Last Wednesday, November 12, I went to a demonstration against Proposition 8, the recent California ballot initiative that banned gay marriage. I was never that fired up about the issue before, and I’m even more lukewarm about it now. The pro-marriage proponents have a limited vision, limited by tradition and, by and large, willful ignorance of broader issues of social justice. There’s been a wild blaming on the net, blaming its passage on conservative African American churchgoers turning out to vote for Obama. Nate Silver does a handy job of dispatching this divisive notion. I think the real target should be yes, the Mormon Church, but also the arch-diocese of San Francisco, who recruited them into the effort in the first place.
But really, the queer movement needs to have a vision beyond just marriage and really talk about embracing and giving institutional support to all kinds of relationships. The Alternatives to Marriage folks have done some good thinking on the subject. Juniper’s perspective is that the state has no business getting involved in contracts between adults, period, unless there’s children involved. He’s from Canada, where gay marriage is legal. The rub is, nobody is getting married. That’s because the institutional bolsters–healthcare, property rights, tax policy–are largely taken care of outside of marriage. So yeah, if all the trappings of marriage mean something to ya, by all means. But if they don’t, you shouldn’t miss out on the benefits and social support just because you march to a different drummer.