Posted by Lil Miss Hot Mess on October 20, 2009
Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell’s article in The Nation is perhaps the most balanced and thoughtful piece on marriage I’ve read, possibly ever, and certainly in a long time. I still think marriage is the wrong goal for a queer movement, but I think she does a really nuanced job of sorting through some tough questions and seeming contradictions. It’s nice to read passages like this from someone who is a self-described “marriage equality advocate”:
Our work must be not just about marriage equality, it should also be about equal marriages, and about equal rights and security for those who opt out of marriage altogether.
So what are we to make of marriage? It is both a deeply personal relationship for which people will make almost unthinkable sacrifices, and it is a declining social institution offering little security for most who enter it.
As a black, feminist, marriage-equality advocate I reside at an important intersection in this struggle. This movement must acknowledge the unique history of racial oppression, while still revealing the interconnections of all marriage exclusion. This work must reflect the feminist critique of marriage, while still acknowledging the ancient, cross cultural, human attachment to marriage. This work must be staunchly supportive of same-sex marriage, while rejecting a marriage-normative framework that silences the contributions of queer life.
I would still push back that a lot of seems to be not about marriage as a state institution, but rather about committed relationships in a general sense. The two are clearly related, but not synonymous. But ultimately I appreciate her ability to make this conversation an “and” rather than an “or.”