Friday, July 03, 2015

I like to think I value love, not marriage, but it's amazing how strongly I feel that marriage is a basic human right. Amazing to me only because those feelings contradict my internal logic (I value love, not marriage). The feeling that marriage is a basic human right shouldn't be amazing to most people in our culture, which fetishizes marriage as the ultimate bond, the end of every rom-com, the authentication of adulthood. Books, films, music, the news, the pulpit, politicians are all relentlessly positive about the value of marriage. Which must be where I got that feeling about marriage being a right. From the very thorough conditioning of my culture, through all of its media filling up the cracks of my neurobiology. Our culture values marriage, and the institution of marriage outfits individuals with dignity.

Heterosexual individuals.

Our culture also values equality, fetishizes equality. In much the same way, but not to the same degree. Obviously, because the American ideal of equality did not include marriage, until June 26th of 2015. It was not extended to same sex couples, not "out of animus" as a couple of conservative legal commentators said on a podcast I was, coincidentally, listening to the morning before the morning of the ruling (animus basically means malicious intent), but because gay people cannot procreate. The procreation argument is entirely fallacious, being that marriage is regularly granted to child free and infertile couples, and that marriage forms adoptive families like my own. Only malicious intent could support it. Malicious intent, or the very thorough emotional (and specifically religious) conditioning that marriage is a heterosexual institution.

And equality is dignity, in that you allow basic esteem to an individual by granting them rights the same treatment their neighbor gets. The right has often confused this issue by calling it "special rights," but it really is a basic right: non-procreative gay men and women look at their non-procreative heterosexual neighbors, and realize that their culture will not afford the dignity of fetishizing, cosseting and cooing over, or ceding rights to, a gay marriage. Gay people are resilient. They have their lovely parties, and lovely, lovely relationships. But they go in to work the next day, or the day after their honeymoon, and realize that their cubical neighbors and employers don't see those relationships as equal because they won't grant them the same rights. Heterosexuals voted against that marriage equality in state elections, refused to extend benefits at work, denigrated same sex marriage in books, films, music, the news, politics, and most especially, most thoroughly, from the pulpit.

Our western, U.S. culture, adoring the concepts of marriage and equality, wouldn't grant either of these things to Gay, Lesbian, or (depending on their situation) Trans people.

Until June 26th, 2015.

And now they can't take that dignity away. Our government has worked, protected a minority, extended a right, and a dignity. It makes me happy, proud to be homo sapiens and an American, and content. I know there's other things to be fixed, but I think I would like to be happy about this for a little while.

The feelings that I was left with the morning of June 26th, at 10 AM, were mixed. There was honest shock. I never expected to see Marriage Equality in my lifetime because people are deeply bigoted. Because twenty years ago, when I was hanging out with an old hippy, she had mentioned that she expected to see revolutionary change twenty years previously. This grant of dignity has been a long time coming. I feel a little disoriented, like I live in a whole new world. In a practical sense, that is hyperbole. In a legal sense, that is very true. There is some anger about this dignity being withheld for so long. Even paranoia, that the conservatives will lash out in anger, that I would run into angry people on the street. That attacks on my Queer friends would increase (which has absolutely happened). There's some regret that many minorities still have a great number of challenges to face. There's some shame that I can't claim full ownership over gay marriage because I am bisexual, and benefit from the assumption of heterosexuality.

And of course, dignity granted by the state doesn't wash away the bitter knowledge that our culture, families, and especially our churches won't grant us that dignity.

But mostly since then I have been happy, and content. And I think people should celebrate. People who fought for and won their dignity, and everybody else. Because that dignity granted grows the dignity of the human race. It is entirely additive. It cannot be taken away. I feel like this should be a national holiday, another kind of shot heard around the world. We've done a good as a western culture in the U.S. to grant people their freedoms. But this is the most sweeping dignity we have granted.