Monday, February 9, 2009

Marriage exhaustion.

It's apparently "Freedom to Marry Week" and there is a "blogswarm" about marriage.

You want to have a conversation about marriage? Fine. Let's start with a question: When are mainstream groups that support the marriage equality movement going to start using inclusive language so I can feel like I'm every much as part of this fight as a gay- or lesbian-identified person?

GLAAD's media reference guide on marriage says,

Marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is one of today's most widely reported-on social issues. . In the midst of this coverage, gay and lesbian families are often reduced to abstractions by those who claim to be "defending" marriage — and whose carefully chosen euphemisms (such as "protecting the sanctity of marriage" and "sending our children a positive message about marriage") serve to obscure the impact of marriage discrimination on gay and lesbian Americans.

How many "gay and lesbian couples/families/etc." did you count there? That's just the intro paragraph.
They go on to say:

This lack of acknowledgement renders invisible the hundreds of thousands of American families whose lives are most directly impacted by this debate.

This makes me want to bash my head against the wall repeatedly. You know what else renders American families invisible? Talking about marriage equality as if it involved only gays and lesbians.

From their Media Reference Guide on Problematic Terminology:

Problematic: "gay marriage"
Use "marriage" or "marriage for gay and lesbian couples" whenever possible.

What? Seriously? Yeah. It keeps going like that.

"But, Bi Avenger," some long-time readers may say, "haven't you blogged about this already?" Well, okay, yeah. I made these two graphics. But I forgot about it for a while. Whether I forgot accidentally or on-purpose in an attempt to reduce my daily head-explodey factor is up in the air. Those graphics actually got e-mailed to GLAAD by someone (not me) from the BiNet USA listserv, along with several other complaints about GLAAD's terms. Yet GLAAD's website remains the same. Why? How? They're just not listening. Perhaps, like an ignorant friend of mine, they feel that marriage equality "affects homosexuals more than bisexuals and transgendered people".
There's also the "lesbian and gay couples" in the Prop 8 challenge, the ongoing issue with language used by the press and HRC...

What's infuriating about GLAAD is that they are one of the big-time authorities that the press is turning to when they're looking for the correct language to use. Until GLAAD corrects their stuff, they are simply perpetuating the use of non-inclusive language in the press.

Hey! Guess what?
  • If I am partnered with someone of the same sex, that doesn't make me a lesbian.
  • If I am partnered with someone of the same sex, it doesn't make the two of us a lesbian couple.

From discussions with other bisexuals both in person and on listservs I know that many others feel exact the same way I do. This "gay and lesbian" language is also potentially alienating to transgender and transsexual people, and to gays and lesbians who simply don't want their marriage to be talked about in that way and/or also want the B and T to be included in "LGBT." I don't see much of a difference between what GLAAD is pushing and the term "gay marriage." Which GLAAD oppposes using.

Until I can feel like I am included, and until the mainstream organizations start caring about other LGBT issues (gender-identity-inclusive ENDA, anyone?), I'm kind of done with their marriage fight. That's kind of sad, because I have personal reasons for wanting to be invested in it. I don't feel like getting into the details right now, but it hits home for me in a way that it couldn't possibly do for many of the, uh, gays and lesbians who are pushing the marriage thing.

I don't feel I can back down entirely from the issue. What's at the root of opposition to marriage equality is homophobia and ignorance. Those are two things I will always work to fight. But I feel stuck.

I am also sad because I feel marriage has become THE issue. I heard more than one gay person say during the election that Obama and McCain had the same stance on gay rights because neither of them supported full marriage equality. How uninformed can you get?! How can you boil all LGBT rights down to marriage equality?!? I was outraged. Granted, most of the people I heard say this were Log Cabin Republicans, so they weren't too big on facts or logic. But still.

The less I see us included, the more I wonder, are we ever going to be included? Or are we beating a dead horse here? Is it within the movement to include us? Or is this a "gay and lesbian" fight? Marriage is not the only issue where it seems like mainstream LGBT groups forgot the B and T (ENDA, anyone?). Furthermore, to what extent does marriage put value on some family forms over others? I haven't read the book, but I can guess. I can see it happening among my single friends, my polyamorous friends, and my unmarried-but-coupled friends. The more I think about marriage, the more I wonder: What could we have done with the $83 million that was spent on both sides of the Prop 8 debate? (Pam's House Blend begins the list) Where else could we be focusing our energy? Maybe we do need to shift our focus. Maybe radical queers are onto something. I don't know.

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