Broken toes and broken hearts


Keeping toes together to let them heal - fine. Gluing basic human rights to a marriage relationship - not so fine.

My heart is fine FYI, my toes not so much. I accidentally kicked a locker room bench at the Y this morning and my right pinky toe is nice and purple.

At work today, I looked up how to care for a broken toe on Web MD and, aside from finding out I have a horrible disease that might kill me in five days because that’s what Web MD always tells you, I found out that I should “buddy tape” my toes together to let them heal.

Which got me thinking about other things that always go together.

Like marriage and health insurance. Or marriage and receiving Social Security benefits. Or marriage and family medical leave.

The only difference is that anyone can tape their toes together, not everyone has the ability to get married.

I know what you’re thinking: “Katie! You are so right! Let’s fight for marriage equality for everyone!”

Except that I’m not going to argue that at all.

I’ve been thinking lately about the privilege of getting married and whether marriage out to be a privilege at all. I’m thinking it ought to be a special life event that folks can participate in if they want to but  if they choose not to they should not be penalized for it.

Basically I want to uncouple the benefits that everyone ought to receive (like health insurance) from the marriage equation all together.

As I’ve talked about before, getting married is expensive. And even if you don’t have the huge wedding, it still costs money to get a license.

Over and above the cash expense, marriage (and gay marriage) does nothing to root out the underlying causes of homophobia in communities, jobs and immigration policy. As gay marriage advocates push for marriage equality, they (we?) seem to ignore everything that gay marriage would not do and the folks that gay marriage leaves out.

Marianne had never been a fan of calling our celebration a marriage and I didn’t get it until I started reading Queer Critiques Against Gay Marriage which, as it says, includes essays from queer folk against the idea of gay marriage.

The essay this morning was from queer children of queer parents who said that the current form of gay marriage being pushed doesn’t remotely resemble the families they grew up in. While they may have had two moms or two dads, sometimes they had a single parent and they were raised in a community of loving adults, sometimes they had two moms and a relationship with dad/sperm donor – regardless, none of them grew up in “traditional” households. By setting gay marriage as the only acceptable form of relationship (which is what the gay marriage movement feels like to these children) they felt they (and their families) were being pushed out.

Arguing against gay marriage is NOT the same as advocating against long-term committed relationships.  I think Marianne will be in a relationship forever and ever, but I don’t think that we ought to have to leave North Carolina (or the whole United States) to get benefits that ought to be standard for everyone regardless of marital status.

I think we need a radical redefinition of legally recognized relationships. One that doesn’t require constant policing by the “moral” folks among us. One that allows people to define family for themselves and that allows each individual in that family to access basic rights like healthcare. One that challenges us to think about who counts as an adult citizen worthy of care in America.

When we make marriage – gay or straight – the only standard by which all other relationships will be judged, we end up doing more harm than good. I think it’s time we challenge the standard.


3 responses »

  1. Way to go! You are so right! We have been chaseing the wrong dream. If everyone had the same benifits marrige would be a non issue.

  2. Gosh, that’s an interesting perspective that I hadn’t thought about. I’ll have to think about it more. My first impression is that gay marriage, while maybe not the best ultimate solution, is at least a step in the right direction? Maybe? Sorta like ObamaCare doesn’t solve the healthcare problem, but it’s a welcome step in the right direction. Maybe? Who knows. Anyway, whatever happens with marriage, etc, I do think you raise a really good point that it’s very important that people feel acceptable/accepted no matter what their situation, relationship-wise or other-wise. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: It’s Tax Time, YIPPEE!! « Poems, Prayers, Promises & Politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s