same sex marriageIn the debate over same-sex marriage, there are two opposing perspectives. Advocates of same-sex marriage claim that access to marriage is a matter of fairness, and a civil right; it brings social acceptance as well as more than 1000 federal perks and privileges not available to people who are not married. Opponents point to religious considerations as well as their beliefs about the importance of children having both a mother and father.

There is another category of skeptics you may have heard far less about. Their arguments are not about religion, the “true meaning” or definition of marriage, or child-rearing. Many of them come from within the LGBT movement.  In the story, “Beyond gay marriage: Is the LGBT movement walking down the aisle to nowhere?”, In These Times magazine interviewed people with each of these perspectives.

The reporter framed the story this way:

“Is winning the right to marry really a victory? Many queer activists argue that the narrow focus on marriage has eclipsed other issues and tamed a once-radical movement.”

You can follow the link and read the entire Q & A. Here, I am going to highlight some of the observations offered by Yasmin Nair, a critic of the focus on same-sex marriage. (For more about her, see the notes at the end.)

 “…the notion that marriage is some kind of magic button that, when you press it, makes things better for LGBT people, is a dangerous one because it can be untrue in so many instances.”

“What marriage does is persuade us that it’s our sole, private responsibility to take care of our families, and that only through a marriage contract will we be granted lifesaving benefits. If marriage is truly a choice, then the unmarried should be able to receive the same benefits as the married.”

“The gay marriage movement wants to pretend that marriage has somehow changed, but it also is invoking this very 1950s narrative that unmarried people are unworthy of respect.”

“…the AIDS movement once argued for universal healthcare, and that argument has now dropped out of the picture. Looking into the future…I may see marriage equality in the next 20 years in the United States, but I will likely never see universal healthcare in my lifetime.”

[Notes: (1) In These Times describes Yasmin Nair as “a Chicago writer with the radical queer collective, Against Equality, who also organizes youth with Gender JUST.” To me, she is a contributor to Singlism and the person who made sure I got to do a bookstore reading in Chicago when Singled Out was first published. (2) The Singlism book includes a set of perspectives similar to Yasmin Nair’s compiled by me and Rachel Buddeberg, in the article, “Should marriage be a ticket to privilege? Skeptics weigh in.”]

Same sex marriage photo available from Shutterstock