NOTE: In this article, I use the word ‘queer’ as an umbrella term (as does Queer Voices as a whole) to mean anyone who is not straight. While I do realize that not all gays, for example, identify as queer, using one word makes writing easier.
With the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States and with so many cis straight liberals posting dreamy statements like “Finally! We’re all equal. Love wins.” on social media, it is easy to forget that the queer movement still has a long way to go.
Making marriage equality the main rallying point for queers and fighting so hard for it was, in my opinion, a mistake. You see, marriage is a very cisheteronormative institution by nature. It doesn’t recognize the existence of genders other than female and male. It only accepts one kind of relationship—the monogamous long-term kind between two people only. Marriage is also for able-bodied people. People with disabilities are punished for—and sometimes even forbidden from—getting married.
For these reasons, having achieved marriage equality simply means that the most privileged queers have successfully assimilated into cisheteronormativity. This creates a false sense of progress. Now that the privileged few—mostly rich white gays—who can afford to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding and are traditional enough to even want relationships that fit into the cisheteronormative model that the institution of marriage embodies are finally allowed to do so, they are starting to distance themselves from the less privileged, such as queer people of color and trans people. “Look at us: we love the same way that you do, and we’re getting married the same way that you do. We’re not like these. We’re like you!”, They say to cis straight people. They’re becoming more content with their standing in society and less willing to continue the fight for basic protections from the government for the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole.
At the same time, while violence against trans folks remains so common, while basic human protections like employment and house security are denied, and while racism and misogyny in the queer community are rampant, marriage rights don’t matter to many of the underprivileged members of the community. This creates a gap, of sorts, within the queer community. It reinforces the hierarchy that already exists in society. Because this sort of ‘equality’ actually marginalizes anyone and anything outside the cisheteronormative standard, it is problematic. Because many cis straight people believe that we’re now all equal, marriage ‘equality’ erases the pain that many queers go through daily.
(The interested reader could look into some of the essays in the book “Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion” for a more in-depth analysis of the issues with same-sex marriage.)
So let’s continue the fight for basic rights for the queer/trans community, y’all! Being able to get married is not a be-all-end-all solution.