Sunday, March 21, 2004

a candidate for privatization
Over the gay marriage issue, I find myself baffled by faint solidarity. People should be able to join any club they wish, including the Future Divorcees of America. But is it a club worth joining? And as a long-term cohabitee I find myself wondering why it's OK for gay people to have institutional privileges denied to myself.

And there's an essential absurdity about the whole thing. There's a good reason to get married if you believe in having your relationship solemnized in the presence of your diety. And from a pomo perspective, why not celebrate the joining of two credit facilities with a great belch of conspicuous consumption? But two people solemnly convening to tell a civil servant that they love each other seems both intrusive and ridiculous. Civil unions, which as far as I understand are essentially legal contracts, cover the relevant institional bases - from nest of kin status to visiting rights in hospital - without having David Blunkett poking his white stick into your business.

Alex Cockburn provides a lucid summary of the whole affair.

Why rejoice when the state extends its grip? Assimilation is not liberation. Peter Tatchell, the British gay leader, put it even more strongly a couple of years ago: "Equality is a good start, but it is not sufficient. Equality for queers inevitably means equal rights on straight terms, since they are the ones who dominate and determine the existing legal framework. We conform -- albeit equally -- with their screwed up system. That is not liberation. It is capitulation."

So the good news, as my favorite paper, UltraViolet (newsletter of LAGAI -- Queer Insurrection) recently put it, is not that 400 gay couples are now legally married in San Francisco but that 69,201 in the city (UltraViolet's number) are still living in sin.

Civil unions for all, he proposes. Seconded.