Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thoughts about the marriage ruling...

So I'm trying to process my reaction to the marriage ruling in California, and part of me is ecstatic, and part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's weird having this ambivalence, partly because it's highlighting an interesting evolution and debate within the queer community, with many people racing towards assimilation, and other people wondering why the hell we're running so fast, particularly since I was part of the wave back in 2004 of couples who got married in SF.

Count me as part of the ambivalent/wondering.

Personally, it feels like that a lot of queer people haven't really thought about what it means to get married, and how marriage is such a social institution that we've been led to believe is the highest form of a romantic and sexual relationship (or at least, they're not getting the press that they deserve), but at the same time how it forces many people into a type of relationship that they, frankly, can't follow. Gay marriage is starting to look less like the political statement that it was in 2004, and now a mindless jump into heteronormative (white, middle/upper class, etc.) assimilation, that worries me.

What exactly are we getting by getting married? The chance to be "like everybody else?" The chance to forget the shame of realizing that one's romantic/sexual choices denies us the ceremonies and traditions of marriage? The dream that our relationships will be given the same weight as our "normal" straight counterparts? The sudden realization and weight of having to fulfill other obligations (like having children) as our "normal" straight counterparts? The right to divorce, go through painful alimony and child custody suits? What happens to those of us in nontraditional relationships, like polyamorous relationships, relationships that transcend state (and country) borders?

It worries me that in the drive to go for gay marriage, that we haven't thought about the natural progression of relationships, like gay divorce, inheritance and children's issues, and non-California residents. Given the nightmare of the badly worded California domestic partnership law that made my partner's and my state and federal taxes a pain this year, I worry how laws and other government decisions that will have to be integrated into California law in order to bring about same-sex marriage could inadvertently fuck us over if the laws aren't well written.

Despite my ambivalence, I am really happy and excited that same-sex marriage is happening in California, but I want to make sure that those couples who DO become married will be served to the best of the state's ability, and not left in limbo like me and a lot of other people who have to deal with current domestic partnership laws in California.

And because Howard's now in Seattle, and I'm still here in SF (and could possibly move to Hawai'i), it doesn't make any sense legally for us to get married in California right now. Given how we got pushed unwillingly into the limelight for being married 4 years ago because we were an Asian-Asian male couple and as a male couple of color and having to deal with the issues of being in the media while dealing with our own ambivalence towards marriage, neither of us are willing to go through the media circus and living in a fishbowl again.

If we DO get married again, the next time will be really for us. Right now, we're both happy being in our odd relationship for the past 11+ years, even if the government's forcing us to become single for the time being.


Yoshi said...

i just want the tax benefits. hahaha!!! like you, i'm in wait and see mode. though most of my friends at school are like, "hey, did you know you can get married?" kinda funny that all these straight boys from the hood are up on the issues...

Grace C. said...

What exactly are we getting by getting married?

1000+ rights that straight people get that we don't get - not just tax benefits! Like the right to visit your partner in the hospital. The ability to protect your partner if you die via automatic inheritance (intestates laws).

Lol, don't believe the stuff about white upper-middle class heteronormative assimilation. I'm simplifying things too much, but working class queers will be helped much more than the former, because those queers who don't have enough money to hire a lawyer to write contracts and wills to protect their partners will automatically get those rights through marriage, whereas in the absence of it, they're sort of SOL.

I hear stories of one partner's parents coming in and taking away everything, not allowing one partner to be around when another is dying, and it's heartbreaking. This is because they're not treated as family. If gays are allowed to get married, it's hard to make an argument that a married gay couple is not family. In fact, it's impossible to make such an argument.