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Why Progressives Must Reframe the Narrow Terms of Marriage Politics

Kay Whitlock, a progressive queer organizer in Montana, has written an excellent piece for Peace Work magazine on why we must begin now to reframe the same-sex marriage debate for the benefit of everyone. Kay is one of the original authors of the beyond marriage statement.

You can listen to her article via mp3 or read the full article here.

Slightly more than 50 percent of households are headed by unmarried people, some single and some partnered, and almost a third of children in the United States are being raised in unmarried homes. About 40 percent of unmarried partner households, queer and heterosexual, have children under 18 years of age living in them. Many aging baby-boomers will spend a significant part of their senior years alone. Many will live with relatives or friends in non-conjugal relationships. Increasingly, both married and unmarried adults are serving as primary caregivers for aging and infirm parents or other relatives. Many people live in extended-family households. Needless to say, LGBT people in each of these categories often face the added burdens of homophobia and transphobia.

Requiring marriage as a way to access legal recognition and the economic support of a caring society is not a viable option for millions of households. Consider, for example, these kinds of families: senior citizens living together or serving as one another's caregivers, partners, or constructed families; close friends or siblings who live together in long-term, committed, non-conjugal relationships, serving as each other's primary support; extended families living under one roof (a practice common in many immigrant communities). Are they less worthy in our eyes?


Ryan Adams said...

I agree in most ways, Mark, but I don't think arguing for other benefits precludes the current marriage equality debate. Why? I don't even think what she is calling for is even a part of the glbt movement, in so far as things like health care effect everyone.

It's more wood for the fire in that we need to make sure our progressive movement in general is united, instead of divided. So often groups within the progressive movement work against each other, as we saw last January when the Health Care rights people basically through the glbt people under the bus and wrote a judicial opinion in favor of Mitt Romney's lawsuit. One of the things that the conservative movement has been very good at is never working against each other - and that's one of the reasons why, electorally, they've been successful.

So we need to get marriage equality people, glbt-rights people, health-care-for-all types, environmentalists, unionists and everyone on board in the movement. We need to expand the greater movement. Why? Things like what Whitlock wrote effect everyone, glbt people included, and we need to do something about it - I'm right there with you on that. It's only going to get done if we all work together and change the landscape of America.

markdanielsnyder said...

Immigrant rights people will not "join the movement" when organizations like MassEquality endorse candidates that are blatently anti-immigrant. That is working against each other. Anti-war activists won't join our movement if organizations like HRC don't apologize for endorsing Joe Lieberman who is holding a pro-war fundraiser this week and stalled debate on the war itself.

The issues raised are a part of the lgbt movement because healthcare, the war, those ARE issues for lgbt people too.

Sorry Ryan, I couldn't disagree more.

It is the single issue, narrow framing, that divides us and causes long term harm to our entire queer community.