Exclusion doesn’t lead to revolution

April 3, 2011 at 12:24 pm 32 comments

By Adam Bink

Joe Jervis spotlights a very odd organization (h/t AMERICABlog Gay) — Queers Against Equality. Some of their positions verbatim:

On marriage equality:

Gay marriage apes hetero privilege and allows everyone to forget that marriage ought not to be the guarantor of rights like health care. In their constant invoking of the “right” to gay marriage, mainstream gays and lesbians express a confused tangle of wishes and desires. They claim to contest the Right’s conservative ideology yet insist that they are more moral and hence more deserving than sluts like us. They claim that they simply want the famous 1000+ benefits but all of these, like the right to claim protection in cases of domestic violence, can be made available to non-marital relationships.Against Equality also opposes the repeal of DADT, because nobody should be in the military.

Is it the uniforms? The always flattering navy blue of a seaman’s uniform? The adventurous khaki of a soldier in the desert? Or might it be the rituals of military life, the sado-masochistic infliction of rules and tortuous drills, which drive today’s gays and lesbians to insist that they ought to be allowed to serve freely and openly in the military?

Leaving aside the absurd name, I’ll just say I’ve been organizing for queer (sure, I’ll even use the word for their sake) equality for 9 years and believe me, I’ve encountered lots of folks with these opinions before in different organizing circles. In fact, I spent a good part of college in indie coffee shops, bookstores  and forums arguing for hours over it.

The response I have is always the same: if you don’t want to get married, don’t get married. If you don’t want to serve in the military, don’t serve in the military. But barring others from doing so, and criticizing those who choose to help others do so, is a barrier to equality because it keeps queers in subservience while you take decades to secure your other goal that is related, but separate from equality. Second, the arguments smack of those against securing voting rights for African-Americans because American democracy is fundamentally overrun with corporate dominance and winner-takes-all is a farce and what we need is IRV and the electoral college is a fraud and what we need is a REVOLUTION not propping up a fundamentally flawed system. Great. I’m with you on reforming American voting systems, but keeping African-Americans from voting won’t help secure that in the decades it will take to do so, and keeping gays and lesbians from serving in the military won’t serve the goal of eliminating the military, or creating a more peaceful world. There are exceptions to this  — the tactic in some Middle Eastern and African countries (and Indonesia under Suharto) where elections are a fraud because of dictators rigging them is to boycott and undermine the legitimacy of those elections. This is different as we’re talking about people’s freedoms or lack thereof compared to other, more equal individuals.

The fundamental misunderstanding is that they are related, but ultimately separate, goals. Exclusion doesn’t lead to revolution.

Entry filed under: Community/Meta.

Scheming and dreaming ‘You can’t be both Catholic and Pro-Homosexual’

32 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kathleen  |  April 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I’ve been in lgbt advocacy circles for more than four decades and this attitude, or a slight variation on it, used to be even more prevalent than it is now.

    My own evolution as an advocate is reflected in my changed attitude about fighting for marriage equality. I always believed in it; but in the past I seriously questioned whether this is where we want to spend whatever amount of precious political capitol we might have. I have since come to believe that it’s one of the most profound things we can do to ensure general equality, even for those lgbt people who don’t want to get married.

    Reply
    • 2. Rhie  |  April 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      I’ve heard the marriage thing too. My personal view is very similar to the point in the post – if you don’t want it, don’t have. Just don’t get in the way of people who do.

      In regards to marriage specifically, I think extending existing law to cover LGBT is the single most visible sign of marriage equality. There is a reason bigots fight against it. Marriage means something. The visual of same-sex couples right beside and equal to opposite sex couples is really powerful.

      Others are free to disagree with this and think other fights are where they want to focus their efforts. We need people fighting on all lines. We just need to remember that ultimately we are all on the same side here.

      Reply
  • 3. Alan McCornick  |  April 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    One fights for the right to an abortion not because one thinks abortion is a good thing, but because to stand idly by is to allow ideologues to grab power over another person’s body and to allow democracy to be trampled by the arrogance of religion.

    One fights for the right to join the military not because one approves of America’s wars, but to rid ourselves of second-class citizenship.

    One fights for the right to marry not because one wants to marry but because homophobia lessens us all.

    Reply
    • 4. Sagesse  |  April 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      One fights for the right to choose.

      Reply
    • 5. adambink  |  April 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm

      Well put.

      Reply
    • 6. AnonyGrl  |  April 4, 2011 at 8:29 am

      Beautiful! Well said Alan.

      Reply
  • 7. Straight for Equality  |  April 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Subscribe now, read later.

    Reply
    • 8. JonT  |  April 3, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Reading now, subscribing later. err.. wait.

      Reply
  • 9. David  |  April 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Is this website trolling, or does it have actual weight? If it’s a serious organization, I’m concerned.

    Love David

    Reply
  • 10. atty79  |  April 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I wouldn’t waste much on this website. It’s obviously a NOM-esque organization trying to belittle our side.

    Strategy: Step 1. Pretend to be the immoral stereotype of your opposition. Step 2. Posing as him, say how silly the opposition’s desires are. Step 3. Use non-sensical arguments to make the opposition seem dumb. Step 4. Add extra immorality, such as the poser referring to himself as part of a group of sluts, to debase the opposition’s side.

    The result is what looks like an authentic side of an argument more closely aligned with the opposition. Great stuff for those who are already on the NOM side of things and just want to seek out information which reaffirms their distorted views of us.

    Reply
    • 11. Felyx  |  April 4, 2011 at 7:05 am

      Wouldn’t be surprised if it was a Louis-esque self-gay hating attempt and discrediting *supposedly* from within the gay ranks. Like NOM… so not worth the time.

      Reply
  • 12. Richard A. Jernigan  |  April 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    No, exclusion does not lead to revolution. And I have to agree that those who are aiming for different goals and who think that by striving for equality are undermining the efforts to achieve equality and are therefore helping to keep ALL lgbt’s in subservience and oppression. I have actually had to talk to people in this area about the same things myself. Once I sit down with them and point out why equality is so important, and the fact that I seriously doubt that we will ever get the government to stop tying those benefits to marriage, and the fact that a lot of lgbt men and women have served in uniform precisely so that they can have the rights to disagree about equality and the end of DOMA and DADT, they usuallly change their minds about how important the fight for equality really is.

    Reply
    • 13. Michelle Evans  |  April 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      Yep Richard, talking to people and letting them know who we are, and that we are human beings too, makes all the difference in the world.

      Reply
  • 14. Kevin S.  |  April 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Following their logic, they seem to be arguing that one should never fight for something one wouldn’t personally use. If that’s the case, LGBT would never win any rights whatsoever, because there simply aren’t enough LGBT folk out there to win any kind of election without straight allies. As a straight guy, I don’t support marriage equality because I want to marry another man. I support it because I believe that right should be available to those who would make use of it. QAE’s position seems incredibly short-sighted and self-defeating.

    Reply
    • 15. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  April 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks Kevin! :-)

      Reply
    • 16. Richard A. Jernigan  |  April 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      And using the same logic, that would mean that I should not fight for education funding because I don’t have any children who are of school age. But I will continue to fight for school funding because I was raised to believe that an education is important and that everyone in this country should be able to have one, not just the rich.

      Reply
  • 17. Ann S.  |  April 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    §

    Reply
  • 18. Straight Ally #3008  |  April 3, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve heard the related complaint that fight for marriage equality takes away time and resources from other issues, and not everyone wants to get married, etc. The thing is, when there’s such a stark piece of discrimination in place, it fosters an air of second-class citizenship that hurts the entire LGBT community. These folks need to think a few moves ahead.

    Also: any Boondocks fans? “My name is Uncle Ruckus, no relation….”

    Reply
    • 19. Nicole  |  April 4, 2011 at 5:41 am

      Reply
  • 20. june  |  April 4, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Personally, I’m passionate about marriage equality, but I am interested to read the critiques of it coming from radical queers. I’m all for fostering debate and keeping in mind all the important issues we’re not really addressing when we’re focusing on marriage. BTW, I don’t think it’s true that all of us are fighting for the same thing. Having read some of the documents AE has on their marriage page, it seems pretty clear that a good number of the people associated with the group are Marxists who would sincerely like to overthrow capitalism. Clearly that is not the goal of all those fighting for marriage equality. Even though a lot of the AE-posted documents paint a pretty limited/flawed picture of the marriage equality movement (i.e. who we are, and what we think marriage will actually accomplish), the writers sound like they are very actively committed to economic justice for all people, regardless of orientation, marital status, nationality, etc., and I think that’s cool.

    Reply
  • 21. june  |  April 4, 2011 at 12:43 am

    This seems like a thoughtful book that’s relevant to this discussion:
    Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law
    Author: Nancy Polikoff Series editor: Michael Bronski
    Product Code: 4432 ISBN: 978-080704432-2
    http://www.beacon.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=1867
    and here’s the authors’ website:
    http://www.beyondstraightandgaymarriage.com/nindex.php

    Reply
    • 22. Caitlyn  |  April 4, 2011 at 3:04 am

      Oooh, I think I have something new on my reading list. Thanks!

      Reply
  • 23. Caitlyn  |  April 4, 2011 at 2:48 am

    “They seem to be arguing that one should never fight for something one wouldn’t personally use.”
    No, that is not the argument. The argument is that, instead of abolishing an institution with an essential function of saying “look! we’re acceptable to society too!” to join it is to leave behind, forget about, and inadvertently oppress those who are MORE queer, MORE outside society’s definition of what is acceptable. I already see it happening, on this very site. In the various responses to Pro-8ers assertion that allowing gay marriage will lead to polymarriage, the response has not been “And what exactly would be wrong with that, anyway?” – the response is “No! That wouldn’t happen! We’re normal like you!” And where, exactly, is the news relating to trans rights, or has the community forgotten about the “T” in LGBT?

    When you fight to be included in the definition of normal rather than fighting to abolish the very concept of normal, you will ALWAYS leave people behind. This is why people would rather, rather than having the institution of marriage at all, have the rights awarded in marriage available to ANYONE, regardless of whether they fit into a pre-prescribed notion of what a family is.
    Additionally, there’s the fear that if the homonormative community gets their rights, they’ll abandon the rest of us and shame us just like the current right wing does.

    All that said, my personal opinion, albeit a hesitant and resigned one, is that, while an overthrow of the system is preferred, it is next to impossible in the current state of society and in order to get anything close to what I want I have to wait my turn on the straight privilege train.

    Reply
    • 24. Sydney  |  April 4, 2011 at 5:12 am

      Thanks, Caitlyn. What I was going to write, but you said it better!

      Reply
    • 25. Rhie  |  April 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      Actually, the response to the question why can’t we legalize poly relationships has most generally been “because the legal questions are WAY more complicated than just extending existing law to more couples.” That’s simply a reality, and has nothing to do with poly couples being more or less weird than anything else.

      I think that the issues of bigotry within the LGBT community should be handled in-house. Discussions of whether a “manly” gay man is more acceptable than an effeminate man or whether a black gay man is just as acceptable as white one aren’t going to be answered in the general public sphere until they are answered by the various gay communities across the country.

      Further, we as a country can’t begin to talk about accepting poly families when we can’t even accept monogamous relationships between all couples.

      What we can do across all lines is push for legal recognition that one relationship is just as good as another, one person is just as good as another. Gay marriage law, hate crimes law, DADT repeal, DOMA repeal, enacting ENDA, making noise and celebrating – that’s what we can do now.

      Reply
  • 26. Straight Ally #3008  |  April 4, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Quip of the day:

    “Now this month, America reached a milestone in its attitude toward gays. More than half the country – 53% – now support gay marriage. Now, that still means that 47% of Americans are a**holes….”

    -Bill Maher

    Reply
  • 28. Leo  |  April 4, 2011 at 6:57 am

    OT: Upcoming courtroom deadlines this month (hope I got them right):
    04/04 (today) Answer brief in Perry v Brown in California Supreme Court
    04/15 Amended complaint in Golinski v OPM
    04/18 Reply brief in Perry v Brown in California Supreme Court
    04/26 Motion to intervene by Congress in Pederson v OPM

    Reply
  • 29. Ronnie  |  April 4, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Pfffft..whatever..what other people want has no reflection on me. There are heterosexuals who don’t believe in marriage at all & never get married. I don’t care whether someone that has nothing to do with my life doesn’t want to get married. I want to get married & selfish people like NOM think they have the right to control that personal choice in my life. It is as simple as that. Because of organizations like NOM, FRC, etc & selfish arrogant schlocks like Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown etc. I am being forced to live my life how they want & demand & I am being forced to adhere to their religious tenets, beliefs & definitions violating my 1st & 14th amendment rights as a tax paying American citizen.

    I have to marry how Maggie wants me to marry.

    I have to form my family how Brian wants me to form my family.

    I have to stay in the closet because Tony has an issue with me being gay.

    I have to follow “God” how Jennifer follows “God” or the 1st amendment doesn’t apply to me.

    I hear a lot of “Ronnie & people like Ronnie have to do whatever I want him to do. Ronnie has to live his life how I want him to live because I say so, but I’m going to say that that is what God wants so that I don’t sound like a pompous arrogant windbag (while making yourself sound like a schizophrenic mental case who knows what God wants because a holy book written by man to control man says so)” .

    All the while, It is a NATURAL FACT, that Ronnie’s life is Ronnie’s life & NOBODY else’s….Who I marry? MY CHOICE!!!….How I form my family? MY CHOICE!!!….What religion or higher power I follow? MY CHOICE!!!!….Coming out & staying out of the closet as well as being gay in public; meaning holding hands, kissing, hugging, showing pictures of my family & boyfriend/husband (whichever he is at the time)? MY CHOICE!!!

    Get it?….Let me dumb it down for those who are against Marriage Equality & Equality in general: You have no say in the matter so QUIT YOUR BITCHING!!!, learn it, live it, love it.

    <3…Ronnie

    Reply
  • 30. Jon  |  April 4, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Yep.

    We were a straight couple before we got married. We had the OPTION to get married.

    Reply
  • 31. Phillip R  |  April 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    While I can kinda see their point, it just doesn’t seem realistic. If we were starting from some type of clean slate from which we could start fresh; then yes…I could see that. However, that’s simply not the case.

    Just seems like a pipe dream to me.

    Reply
  • 32. Wren  |  April 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I believe that special rights for all coupled persons should be eliminated (queer or straight). There should be no special rights for domestic partners, civil unions, or marriages. It is discriminatory to single people to have to subsidize their coupling and their CHOICE to have children. I agree that IF marriage rights continue to exist that queers should have equal rights to them, but I also would like to see the whole social construct of marriage disintegrate.

    Reply

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