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Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’

Quoth Steampunk Emma Goldman:

You all know I am no fan of that “poor little State- and Church- begotten weed, marriage,” but I do love angry conservatives, and happy queer people, so today qualifies as a good one.

But as a general rule, if you want to find opinions I agree with, you are more likely to hear them voiced by someone shouting interruptions at a politician giving a speech than in a supreme court decision. Let’s keep fighting for all the LGBTQ folks whose problems aren’t solved by access to marriage.

I'm pretty much down with that. This week's marriage equality news from the US is a great sign that compassion and reason are both winning the battle at a rate of knots. It opens up opportunities for numerous families who've been waiting for acknowledgment, and bodes well for a near-future where same-sex relationships are sufficiently normalised that this isn't even a question any more.

But it's worth remembering that the government didn't itself achieve anything progressive or positive. All it did was finally got the fuck out of people's way, in this one area, once it became sufficiently politically expedient to do so. It deserves minimal credit for making a small step towards butting out of everyone's personal business, so late in the game. Love was already happening, people were already finding and creating beauty in their relationships with each other, no thanks to the government, which is just oppressing them a little less now.

A lot of prejudice and inequality is still universally pervasive, much of it built into the fabric of the state. The very fact that nine people making a 5-4 decision can have such a sweeping influence over the entire country is bizarre in itself. Ideally, there wouldn't be marriage equality because the Supreme Court declared it thus; there'd be marriage equality because what the fuck business is it of yours who we love and build our lives with, and who the hell's going to stop us?

So, you're still on notice, America. Don't start thinking you can distract us from the prison industrial complex, continuous indiscriminate killing and torture of innocent foreigners, systemic police brutality, the war on drugs, and the rest of the bullshit you’re still failing to deal with, just because you're suddenly throwing a hundred thousand or so totally fabulous parties.

Well, okay. Maybe for the rest of this weekend we’ll be distracted by the fabulous parties, and all the fabulous people who get to celebrate their love and feel more validated and accepted than they’ve been allowed to up until now. Have fun, fabulous people, and congratulations.

But then it’s back to work. There’s still a lot of shit to straighten out. Marriage equality’s a good start. Next stop: polyamory!

(Seriously, a lot of critical commentators have brought this up, as well as at least one of the dissenting Justices: if you let gay people get married, what’s to stop the same reasoning being applied to relationships with more than two people? These people are making an excellent point, entirely by accident.)

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I tweeted something of a stream of consciousness the other day, about the recent vote on same-sex marriage in Ireland, and in particular against the response to those who vainly railed against it.

I managed to Storify it over here, and I’m re-creating it below as well, because apparently I’m some sort of multi-platform SEO-conscious content-guru now. Ha. Oh god I hope I’m joking.


Finally watched the video the #VoteNo campaign seemed to think was their trump card, and I’m glad I did.

It’s still quite wrong, and #VoteYes was undoubtedly a triumph for compassion and equality and basic good sense.

But there’s more of a case to argue against than blunt, nuanceless, medieval homophobia fuelled by nothing but hateful bigotry.

Anything that reminds me that my ideological opponents didn’t all just wake up and decide to be evil anti-humanists is worth looking at.

It’s a much more feeble victory to be right about #VoteYes if we can’t sincerely and compassionately consider the arguments against.

Which doesn’t mean agreeing with anything they say or accepting that they have a point. They don’t! They’re still wrong!

But I spent too long doing that instinctive flinch thing against the whole #VoteNo tribe and made their wrongness their defining trait.

You do your own philosophy a disservice if you only let it be challenged by the weakest caricatures of the other side.

There can be nuance and intelligence to what your enemy is saying – and maybe even truth, if you try hard enough to understand them.

It’s a rare but vital skill to be able to do that, without flinching defensively against the feeling that your world(view) is under assault.

I still kinda suck at it. As ever, this is a note to self more than a lecture to others.

This has been “I should figure out how Storify works for this kind of thing. And hey, didn’t I used to have a blog?” with me, @writerJames.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled radio silence while I read Neal Stephenson books on my kindle in the bath.

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I’m not in a very writey place lately. Here’s some things I haven’t got around to talking about at more length:

The patent system in the US is completely fucked.

– The dangers of self-regulation. If you’re a cop who tries arresting another cop for dangerously breaking the law, other cops will destroy you for it. The residual media image of the friendly British Bobby still has some effect on our interactions with the police over here, I think, but in America I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t just be scared of them. It seems to be a hotbed of an aggressively defensive kind of workplace culture. And they all carry guns all the time.

– If you still think there’s any chance Sylvia Browne is psychically connected to some kind of deep universal truth, and isn’t just a huckster making shit up, you are paying no goddamn attention.

– A vocal Christian minority in the UK are still feeling deeply threatened by gay marriage. Christian Voice have taken a sudden interest in the apparent impossibility of “consummation” in the case of same-sex couples, and appear to have put a good deal of thought into whether “two homosexuals” can ever “be one flesh”. Apparently to these particular followers of Jesus, the sacrament of marriage is all about the fuckin’. And their list of civil liberties they claim are under threat are almost entirely liberties to discriminate against gays, which they’re worried might not be allowed any more.

Should ginger-bashing be considered a hate crime? Or, more to the point, should the government be in the business of deciding which particular flavours of hatred merit special attention, regardless of the criminal behaviour in question?

– Lastly but not leastly, I fucking love this conversation. It was actually posted a few years ago, which I’ve only just noticed, but it came to my attention just recently so I’m sharing it here. Eliezer Yudkowsky is a huge deal, and the stuff he and Massimo talk about here is important and awesome. There’s a transcript here which you might find an easier format.

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You might have noticed there are some Christians still not on board with same-sex marriage.

One Jesus-centric group recently put forward five reiterations of tired old clichés whose unconvincing nature is becoming ever more apparent. Their second point began thusly:

The promotion and legal recognition of homosexual unions is not in the interest of the common good. That may sound benighted, if not bigoted. But we must say it in love: codifying the indistinguishability of gender will not make for the “peace of the city.” It rubs against the grain of the universe, and when you rub against the grain of divine design you’re bound to get splinters.

It was Hemant’s analysis that prompted me to think some more about this:

Aww… they’re trying to turn their bigotry into poetry. Isn’t that sweet of them.

I’d never quite noticed before that this is what happens in Christianity a lot. They’ll take up a conservative, narrow-minded stance on a very particular interpretation of Biblical values, but distance themselves from all those hateful Westboro Baptists and the like, by claiming that they’re motivated by love.

They’re not raging about queers burning in Hell; they’re talking about getting metaphorical splinters from rubbing against the grain of divine design.

They hate the sin, but love the sinner. Gay people, you should appreciate the compassion these Christians have for you – it’s just your actions in your personal relationships and the innate tendencies within you that they find contemptible and wicked.

The point being, of course, that there’s more to love than flowery language and a soft face and declaring aloud to all and sundry that love for your neighbour is what drives you. If you’re not going to be a hypocrite, you also have to actually love people. You don’t get instant credit for being compassionate just because you’ve replaced blatant spite and invective with worthy analogies built of purple prose.

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I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

Thus spake President Obama yesterday, and yea, there was much rejoicing.

And maybe there should be. It’s a positive development, after all, to have such an unequivocal statement of support from the leader of the free world. People in same-sex relationships are still having to struggle hard for equality all over the world, whether that struggle is just a matter of being taken seriously, or the right not to be executed as an abomination in the eyes of God.

But a lot of the public reaction has been over the top. I don’t want to take anything away from gay people for whom this is a significant victory. But too much import is being ascribed to too insipid a gesture.

Society is changing, and Obama’s announcement reflects just how far we’ve come in a relatively short time. How long ago would it have been impossible to imagine the President of the United States saying something like this? Twenty years? Less? But compare that to Obama’s own “evolving” view on the issue of same-sex relationships. See how far he’s come in, say, the past sixteen years, back when the then State Senate hopeful’s stated position was:

I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.

Huh. So, long before he was running the show, he felt at least as strongly about this as he does now. In fact, if he was prepared to actually fight for it back then, he’s arguably back-pedalled since. Nearly four years into his presidency, he now supports individual states’ rights to decide on what side to let the law come down. (Not, as Radley Balko points out, a stand he seems to take on many other matters.)

In fact, there were a lot of provisos accompanying his statement of support yesterday. I’ve quoted the main highlight above, but he took a lengthy run-up to get there:

…at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that…

…I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

You’re welcome, gay people.

I think it’s fair to say that after much careful deliberation and contemplation I’ve decided provisionally but with conviction that it’s become a moral necessity for me as an individual in my own way to just go right ahead and stick my neck out there and lay my cards on the table and say that at the end of the day I happen to think in my own head personally all things considered that Barack Obama ought to stop being such a fucking politician about this.

I don’t question the sincerity of his feelings at all. I’m sure he’s perfectly fair-minded and decent and progressive about same-sex relationships. I doubt there’s a homophobic (or hetero-supremacist, or whatever) bone in his body. But he has to constantly worry about whether expressing an honest opinion is going to cost him 10,000 votes in a swing state, which would of course result in TOTAL CATASTROPHE. And so his honest opinion is often a long time coming. Because politics is insane.

I share many queer folk’s joy that we continue to see signs of an approaching time when this whole discussion is irrelevant, and true equality is really possible. But some people’s gratitude at having their humanity acknowledged is spilling over into a kind of demeaning, fawning obsequiousness.

He’s not your saviour, and he’s not some hero deserving of your worship. At best, he’s someone who means well and is finally making some sort of effort to do the right thing. But you’re a human being deserving of dignity and respect entirely on your own merits, without having to wait on anybody else’s say-so.

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Monogamy is not the problem, and doesn’t need curing. But there’s definitely a problem.

– An MP and a Knight of the Realm thinks gay marriage is going to lead to censoring Shakespeare. He says the idea shouldn’t be dismissed as “fanciful”, so I’ll dismiss it as hysterical and moronic instead.

Geometric porn. Possibly NSFW, depending on the creative imagination levels of your co-workers.

– And a thing I wrote elsewhere about Trayvon Martin.

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Here’s a quick thought, while I’m still not putting too much pressure on myself to be interesting regularly on here. I may have had a brainwave about this whole gay marriage debate.

Okay, so on one side, you’ve got religious folk and other traditionalists. They’re hung up on the institution of marriage being some hallowed thing, which has remained unchanged through the ages and shouldn’t be fiddled with now. Many of them are fairly supportive of gay rights, and even equality, at least nominally – but only in the form of civil partnerships, which should allow same-sex couples many of the same rights under the law as any opposite-sex married couple, without changing the definition of marriage.

On the other hand, many same-sex couples think they should be entitled to more than just a separate-but-equal arrangement, which still somehow categorises them as second-class citizens, and excludes them from being an equal part of everyone else’s society.

I think there’s a middle ground we’ve all been missing.

Let’s say we make a new thing, kinda like civil partnerships, but unrelated to traditional marriage.

And let’s say we call it “marrij”.

Don’t worry, we’re not changing the definition of marriage. That’s still going to work the same as it was. But we can introduce a new way of recognising the relationships of people who can’t get married, such as same-sex couples, and giving them some of the… well, let’s say all of the legal rights that married people get.

Any two people, regardless of sexual or gender identity, can get “marrijed” (pronounced MAH-REED). It’s much like getting a civil partnership, and they’ll receive all the associated legal and publicly recognised benefits, in a system distinct from the sacred traditions that need to be preserved, but which is closer to equality than anything available now.

The state can marry, or marrij, any such couple who want to participate in either arrangement. Churches can recognise one or the other, or both, and won’t be forced to get more involved in marriages or marrijes any more than they’re comfortable with.

Did I just fix gay rights?

If this has a successful trial run, polygamous marrij is the next step.

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