So, we’ve done it. We’ve won. Everything is OK, let us cheer from the rooftops and celebrate.
Same sex marriage has been voted into UK law, and apparently I’m supposed to feel happy about this.
And yet it leaves a fairly bitter taste in my mouth, niggling anxieties about the future, a deep unease that far from this being better it may actually make things worse for a lot of us.
I get that some of you are delighted by this, and I’m happy for you. Your kink is not my kink, but your kink is OK. If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine. Just please think about the consequences, both concrete and mere possibilities.
First things first, let’s not call what passed into law “marriage equality”. It means that a relationship between two people of the same sex can be legally recognised as the same as a relationship between two people of the opposite sex. To some, this might sound like equality. These people are not recognising the vast and complex forms that human interaction may take, the sheer breadth of family structures that are possible (and, for many, a lived experience). Marriage is still as inaccessible today as it was yesterday to so many of us–and the resulting perks.
It gets even worse for some trans people. Included in the law is a clause which can spell disaster for trans people: the spousal veto. In order to have your gender legally recognised, you need permission of your spouse. These statistics from@zoejrobinson, via the Coalition For Equal Marriage should demonstrate why this is such a problem. Marriage requires signing over a basic human right to a spouse, and grants the spouse a power to deny you the right to legal recognition of your gender, if they don’t like it. And this problem only applies to a certain set of the population. Yet they are ignored and thrown under the bus, utterly erased by the complete misnomer of pretending this thing is “equal marriage”. No matter how many times they say it’s equal, it doesn’t become so.
And yet, there is a pervasive mentality that we’ve won. It is being treated by many as a glorious victory in the last great battle. For some, it is exactly this, and they are the lucky ones. I fear that we will lose momentum entirely now that same sex marriage is law, having lost these loud voices who have got what they wanted. I fear that there will be no further demands made with the level of resources that were poured into achieving this demand, which is on a par with getting a cat to shit in the litter tray: something which should have been happening all along.
I fear that any movement towards queer liberation will halt. Examine this tweet and image from charity Stonewall. Many prefer to call the organisation S’onewall, due to its complete erasure of trans people. Look at them eagerly thanking the lovely kind state for throwing them a pitiful scrap which they have climbed over a mountain of fellow queers to grasp at. Remember what they named themselves after, and laugh a bitter, hollow chuckle as you remember whose name they appropriated, whose history they all but deny.
There was once a time when we demanded liberation rather than equality. We demanded expression rather than assimilation. The chorus of celebration of same sex marriage rings loudly, and silences these demands that some of us still wish to make. I don’t want equality within a fundamentally flawed system. I want to be free. I want to be able to be myself, to live and love without constraints. I want to exist free from coercion into a certain living arrangement which does not suit me, one which the state is increasingly attempting to force me into. I want to live without fear.
I worry that same sex marriage may have devastating consequences for those of us who choose not to marry. There will be financial and material consequences: machinations are underway to further incentivise marriage with a carrot in among the sticks. There will likely also be social consequences. It is hardly news to people in marginalised groups that those who are able to assimilate are those who are most accepted. Legally speaking, there is now nothing standing in our way of riding the relationship escalator in exactly the same way as straight people. Will those of us who do not be penalised? I don’t doubt that we will, and it frightens me that I am one of these freaks of society, one of those who will not be grudgingly accepted by the heterosexist mainstream because I am not marching to the beat of their monotonous drum.
And I fear that many of my GLb comrades will no longer care about those that have been left behind in this relentless pursuit of assimilation at the expense of liberation. I fear a loss of solidarity, of being told to swallow what I was given because this was my choice just as countless bigots have told us before. Heterosexuals and gay people alike have, all along the way, policed my articulation of my concerns. I do not feel like they would support those of us who have been left behind in their journey. I fear that everything will stop, even as there is so much more to do both locally and globally.
I would love to be proved wrong. I would love for this to have been just a muster in a bid for liberation. Yet again and again history has proved that things do not happen like this. So I remain unrepentantly unhappy with this state of affairs, groping in the dark for comrades who will have my back. Plotting revolution, plotting freedom and fervently hoping that in this broken world that I stay safe and survive.