Saturday, July 2, 2011

Who said the Homosexual Agenda was a radical one?

It is not often I uphold the New York Post as a beacon of expertise in anything except clever headline writing, but this piece on marriage is pretty en pointe, as the French say, especially when they're talking about something gay.

It seems that the Post columnist makes a connection between Archbishop Timothy Egan and pro football player David Tyree, both of whom agree that gay marriage poses an "ominous threat" (Egan's words) to the "moral fabric of the country" (Tyree's), potentially leading to "anarchy" (Tyree's).

Now I'm inclined to believe that if anything is going to contribute to anarchy in this country, it's not going to be a bunch of committed homosexual couples petitioning the state for healthcare and tax cuts, which are the essential rationales behind government-sanctioned marriage in this country.

In any event, the good people over at Against Equality have some valid points about the whole affair, including the assertion that gay people (and their non-gay allies) who fight for marriage equality are actually fighting against their own best interests:

Gay marriage apes hetero privilege . . . [It] increases economic inequality by perpetuating a system which deems married beings more worthy of the basics like health care and economic rights.

That is, the goal of gay marriage is a misguided one. It situates the "homosexual agenda" within a heteronormative paradigm without confronting the inherent injustices of that model.

Historically, marriage has been the legal structure through which a man takes a wife as part of his property, and therefore is able to produce heirs.  Since then, marriage has remained the institution that guarantees access to one's spouse's resources, including health insurance, citizenship status, and financial assets.

The fight for gay marriage legitimizes the use of this institution to deny nonmarried couples access to each other's resources.  Why is the state needed to sanctify commitment when marriage is clearly an anachronistic legal means to arbitrate property issues?

But if we as a society are to continue placing a high value on marriage - not only for economic ends but emotional as well - then we should examine what exactly qualifies as "marriage material."

For more, we turn to Kathy Edin, an ethnographer based in Philadelphia, whose research concerns unwed parents in low-income households.  Assuming the relationship stability that marriage represents, she investigated the reasons why lower-income couples choose to remain unmarried despite being romantically involved and having children together.  She found that among her interview subjects:

Marriage is the finish line. It's the frosting on the cake; it's graduation, once you've achieved financial stability and you have some of the accoutrements of middle-class success, like maybe a mortgage and two working cars, and maybe some money in the bank, and you've really put your relationship through the test of time . . . So it's not that marriage isn't taken seriously. I would say that it's taken too seriously, in some ways.

Again we see marriage as a marker of socioeconomic status, and one perceived as inaccessible by many impoverished couples.  So why fight for it?  I suppose as long as it remains a guarantor of necessary social resources, it is important for the wellbeing of one's beloved.  That, and my grandmother would kill me if I died a swinging single.

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