Marriage equality heightens contradictions

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I don’t believe that marriage is the single most critical public policy issue that LGBT Americans need to be fighting for right now; I suspect, for example, that expanding health care access and the reach of anti-discrimination law may have broader positive impacts. I’m also not sure that same-sex marriages will have better outcomes than opposite-sex marriages (about half end in divorce; many harbor emotional or physical abuse).

That said, the visibility and growing success of the marriage equality movement is remarkable, in the way that it helps reframe homophobic policy discourse into a parody of itself:

  • 1970s: gay predation endanger children
  • 1980s: gay diseases endanger public health
  • 1990s: gay demands endanger military cohesion
  • 2000s: gay marriages endange straight marriages

Marriage equality campaigners do a good job of heightening the contradictions, forcing homophobes to make increasingly convoluted arguments as to why it’s bad for people to have stable, monogamous, relationships saddled with legal rights and responsibilities. Since LGBT folks can’t be wished/prayed out of existence, the movement forces opponents to essentially say “down with gay marriage; I’d rather have more frightening, irresponsible, uncommitted, unmarried gay sex.” There’s something delicious about that.

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Anirvan Chatterjee is a San Francisco Bay Area tech geek and bibliophile.


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This page contains a single entry by Anirvan Chatterjee published on July 2, 2008 8:23 AM.

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