By: Samantha White
Today, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and declined to take Prop 8. The end of DOMA, a federal law instituted in 1996 defining marriage between a man and a woman, means that same sex marriages will receive the same benefits as opposite sex marriages. It also means that bi-national same sex couples should receive the same treatment under the law as well. By not ruling on Prop 8, a ban on same sex marriages in California, same sex marriages will now be allowed to resume in the state. Both of these rulings send a message of equality to the general public. LGBTQ people deserve to be treated equal under the law. In a country founded on the separation of church and state, allowing religious conservatism to permeate our politics is shameful and undemocratic. It brings me joy to know that couples who have fought hard to be recognized under the law will now be acknowledged, as well as have the right to marry in California. Denying people of their humanity is one of the biggest errors that we have committed and unfortunately still continue to commit. I am deeply embarrassed that we as a society still continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation and I am filled with shame every time I think about how I will explain this to future generations. Marriage equality is one step in the right direction.
And yet, marriage is not enough.
It is possible to celebrate the unalienable rights of others to marry and to critique the institution of marriage, as well as how it is prioritized within the LGBTQ movement. It is possible to celebrate marriage equality and still demand more because we all deserve it. In a country where suicide among LGBTQ youth is still high and an employee can be fired because of their sexuality, it is important to make sure people survive (emotionally, physically, and financially) so they can get married if and when they choose. In a society deeply rooted in heteronormativity, marriage is often the easiest LGBTQ issue to address because it is safe, it is easy to digest, and does not require any real radical thought or change. Weddings and matching monogrammed towels makes people comfortable. Bumper stickers and radio songs are comfortable. Intersectionality, an extremely necessary idea that seeks to address race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, as well as other factors do is not rooted in comfort-and that is that point. Addressing homeless youth and poverty that occurs within LGBTQ communities is not comfortable. Demanding safe schools where the environment is open and the curriculum is inclusive is not comfortable. Talking about the LGBTQ people who are the victims of hate crimes all across the country is not comfortable. Calling out Western churches who important homophobia to African countries that influence legislation that puts people to death is not comfortable. The effect that the decision on Section Four of the Voting Rights Act will have on voter suppression is not comfortable. Watching a woman filibusterer in front of an audience of men about the need for comprehensive reproductive justice is not comfortable.
However, I am not here for comfortable. I am here for all and everything because marriage is not enough.
Sam White is a youth worker, writer, and a frequent user of the word intersectionality. Although always struck with perpetual wanderlust, she still carries South Jersey in her heart wherever she goes. You can follow her onTwitter or check her out at Hollalujah.