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Same-sex marriage is classist and racist, or something

This article was brought to you by a Facebook friend of a friend, labelled as "today's #mustread", and let's just say that it did not improve an already-frustrating morning. While I suggest reading the whole thing to get a better understanding of the argument, the OP did a fairly good job of summarizing through pull quotes, so I'll use exactly what he posted:

With the distance and detachment born of time’s passage, will historians of this sort note how much the gay marriage movement has been centrally about acquiring government benefits and protecting the wealth of an influential, prosperous, successful, urban elite during a time of deepening national inequality?

Ironically, then, public benefits, supported by national taxation—ones initially enacted in order to benefit families in which raising children was the norm—became increasingly available to an economically powerful and culturally influential group whose advantaged position was in part attained by widespread childlessness.

It is hard to imagine that future historians will neglect to point out the irony of LGBT activists’ adoption of civil rights language against a state constitutional amendment overwhelmingly supported by black voters. By refusing to defend the duly-passed constitutional amendment, California’s elected leaders chose to favor a wealthy and influential interest group over millions of voters.


Let's break this down point by point.

1) The fight for marriage equality is really about money: "While jubilant crowds of same-sex marriage proponents celebrated a victory for “dignity” and “equality” on the steps of the Supreme Court on the morning that the case was handed down, unmentioned was the fact that Edith Windsor—already a millionaire—had gotten even richer."

Okay, let's talk about marriage. I know that marriage is supposed to be about love and family values and whatever blah blah blah. But let's be real: two people can be madly in love and raise a happy, well-supported family (or not! their choice) without being married. Marriage as a legal institution is (and has long been) largely about formalizing the connection between these two people for very practical reasons. Marriage has never not been economic. Can it also be about love and commitment? Sure! But the law gives exactly zero fucks about love and all the fucks about your money.

You can't say that Windsor is any less entitled to equal treatment under the law just because she's already wealthy, or because she's trying to avoid an inheritance tax. We don't ignore the law just because someone can afford it. If a millionaire's car is stolen, you don't say "oh, they can just buy another one". It's still illegal. Not to mention that Windsor applied to a lot of matters beyond just inheritance taxes, and that not all gay people are millionaires. Next.


2) No, really. Gay couples don't need the same kind of economic advantages conferred by marriage because they're already wealthy and don't have kids: "Largely unmentioned today—but perhaps of interest to future historians—were suggestions that homosexuals, especially lesbians, enjoy economic advantages largely because they don’t have children, which could inhibit their economic progress and success."


You're right! No gay couples have kids and all straight couples do, which is why straight couples should get extra help. Case closed, we can all stop worrying now. Let's go get cake. Ugh.

3) Gay people are using civil rights language while just making wealthy people wealthier and "disenfranchising large numbers of voters—particularly African-American and Hispanic voters" because a lot of black and Hispanic voters were in favor of Prop 8.


I can kind of see the conflict here between the use of civil rights language when it's not exactly the same issue (although there are many similarities), but suggesting that they're totally different things because the LGBT community is a "wealthy and successful interest group" is absurd. LGBT folks face very real discrimination and saying that this isn't the case because some are wealthy is like saying racism is over because we have a black president and everyone loves Beyonce.

More importantly, that's not actually disenfranchisement. Disenfranchisement is saying "you're not allowed to vote because you're black". It's saying "we know you voted, but we're not going to count it because you're poor". It's not saying "you voted on this, and we counted it, but this law has been deemed unconstitutional by the court". We don't pass unconstitutional laws just because people want to. Even if every single voter wanted to ban media criticism of the government, we still couldn't pass that law because it would be a direct violation of 1st Amendment rights.


Can you make the argument that the gay rights movement shouldn't use the same language as the Civil Rights movement? Probably. You could probably even make it with some level of success, although I'm not sure any one movement gets to have a monopoly on the terms "dignity" and "equality". But this piece sure as hell doesn't pull it off.

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