Gay Marriage

There is so much I want to write about today I don’t know where to start. For one, the setback to gay marriage by the passage of Proposition 8 in California. $74 million was spent by both sides over Proposition 8, the most spent on any proposition in the nation this year. But it was a close race: 52.46% were for the ban and 47.54% were against it. It is interesting that in the eight years since voters approved a statutory ban on gay marriage, the 22-point margin for Proposition 22 shrank to five points for Proposition 8. [Surprisingly enough, the governor of CA, Arnold Schwartzenegger, is on record as saying that he hopes the California Supreme Court will overturn Proposition 8.]

According to its proponents, Proposition 8 restores marriage and protects California children. How does gay marriage destroy marriage or harm children? That’s like saying that allowing a couple who had a child out of wedlock to marry will destroy marriage. Or someone who is divorced. (Shades of Catholicism.) Where will it stop? Obviously, no one wants to get to the point where people have to be vetted in order to be allowed to marry. Or do we? If we’re going to make it hard for gays to marry because we somehow think that they lessen the validity of marriage, then shouldn’t we make it harder for straight people, too?

I would think that gay people marrying has as much of a rationale as straight people marrying: married people are more stable members of their community, they are more law-abiding, they take care of each other and they are less likely to act out in undesirable ways sexually in the broader society. (Remember Paul’s admonition that it is better to marry than to burn?)

Why am I writing about this in a feminist blog? Doesn’t that just strengthen the stereotype that all feminists are lesbians? One reason that feminists have included and supported lesbians in their ranks, is that lesbians are women, too, and deserve support just like any other category of women. Secondly, by embracing women of all categories, we expand and strengthen the definition of what it is to be a woman. Thirdly, lesbians have a lot to teach us about relationships, discrimination and the effects of living in a patriarchal society.

Whatever straight women suffer, lesbians suffer the same more acutely. Custody fights, discrimination in the workplace, being unable to adopt, being denied the benefits of a legal relationship, being unprotected in the case of a split-up/divorce. Issues like Proposition 8 deny gay women (and men) the protections and rights that straight women (and men) have just by virtue of their sexual orientation, something that is as intrinsic to a person’s identity as gender identification, maybe even more so.