I’m not sure if you’ve heard – you know, in case you live under a slab on concrete in some remote location that hasn’t yet discovered the interwebs or Facebook – but the Supreme Court just overturned any bans that prevent same sex couples from getting married. It’s kind of a big deal.
Facebook was already in a rainbow tizzy over the annual June Pride month, but now there is one more reason to celebrate – people who want to create permanent, legal unions can now do so in any state they want to. Even North Dakota. Was it any surprise that North Dakota wouldn’t choose to do something proactively (unless it was proactively hateful, like 2004’s marriage ban which was part of what this whole Supreme Court sitch was all about in the first place) and would need to be dragged kicking and screaming into a brand new century? Not to me. If North Dakota is anything, it’s predictable, and even though North Dakota has some history of progressive shit-starting in its distant past (look up how early settlers stood up to capitalist “Robber Barons” if you think ND has always historically been a “red state”) they’ve settled into a rut of backwards politics and atrocious handling of all matters related to diversity for the past half century or more. No, North Dakota wasn’t going be a part of equality until the SCOTUS pimp slapped them and said, “Get with the program, bitches!” Now that the pimp slaps have been administered, geographically challenged queers who weren’t located in marriage friendly states are now free to promise to love, honor, and cherish.
Well, except in Alabama. Apparently, certain “activist judges” (that term makes me laugh, so I’m using it here tongue-in-cheek) have decided to not marry same sex couples. How can they get away with it, given the recent ruling, you ask? Simple. They simply refuse to marry anyone. When I heard about this, I LOL-ed for real. I could only imagine how long that would last: all of those uptight Christian fundies not able to get married because that was the only way for these judges to stand up against marriage equality. After all, equality doesn’t only go one way: marriage for none is just as equal as marriage for all, though it certainly wasn’t the intent of the ruling. What would Alabama trailer park dads do with their shotguns now that all of those weddings were called off?! As it turns out, the threat has less teeth to it than it seems: the judges may be refusing to marry people at the courthouse, but there was nothing to stop them from getting the actual marriage licenses and nowadays anyone can get their ordination papers online from the Universal Life Church (I have mine!). I mean, sure, you’re still crushing the dreams of those who’ve always lusted after a no frills quickie service at the local Justice of the Peace, but I think society as it stands will survive.
So let’s celebrate this historic moment. I’m not going to qualify that. I was planning to; this post was percolating in my mind with a much different focus until I saw something posted on Facebook by a friend (I’ve edited a couple of minor grammar things the English major in me couldn’t ignore, but I haven’t edited the content):
This may piss off a few people on my timeline but I’m going to say it anyway. Something really great happened yesterday. It was historic, social changing and we should all be dancing in the streets. Many of us are…but not all of us…and I’m not talking about the conservatives. Within 12 hours of the decision the mad rush began to be the first Eeyore to piss in the punch bowl…… *President Obama said “gay and lesbian” a few times instead of GLBT so if you’re bi or trans you really shouldn’t celebrate.” *”Injustice still exists in the world so you really shouldn’t celebrate” “My [insert pet cause here] still exists so you really shouldn’t celebrate” What is wrong with taking the win? Couldn’t we have ONE DAY to revel in the fact that the arc of history turned a little farther towards justice? Can’t we pause the scramble for attention and the “who’s the most offended” contest long enough for one good group hug?
Is that too much to ask?
It isn’t. In a way, I had felt the exact same way, hearing some of our leaders use this moment as a chance to still remind us “how far we have to go” and “there are still battles to be won.” But the thing about battles in a war is that there are a lot of them, and if you don’t take time to celebrate the little victories, you run out of engagement and momentum and “give a damn” before you get to the end of the war.
But there was a part of me that wanted to be another one of those Eeyore’s pissing in the punch bowl. If you read my recent post about “The Get Along Gays,” you know what I’m talking about. I’m getting really tired of this focus on heteronormativity in queer politics, especially centered around marriage equality. That was the line I was going down, until I read Randy’s post.
Why not take a little time to celebrate? Why not choose to revel in this moment in history and see all of the joy and relief experienced by couple who truly did want to be a part of this institution? And of course, there is a part of me that delights in the foot-stomping, toddler tantrums of those who want to keep marriage all to themselves (like this asshat pastor who said he would light himself on fire if gay marriage were legalized – no word yet on whether or not he’s followed through on that little gem). And even though I do have frustrations and see limitations in our current activism, I didn’t want to be like those queer killjoys who just can’t take a moment to celebrate and have to keep pushing their agendas and issues, every statement a soundbite.
And as I was thinking about Randy’s post, I decided that it was all about perspective and that I could, in fact, have my cake and eat it too.
Now that the marriage question has been settled, think about how much time and money and resources that frees up to look at other queer issues! Those who want to get married can do so and the rest of us can focus on other queer issues that are still important and still matter. We have that much more time to talk about trans- and bi-phobia within our communities, and how privilege related to race, ethnicity, and skin color still greatly impact our queer families, however we choose to organize them. We can have discussions about different ways to think about families and relationships, including non-monogamy, in ways that don’t exclude those who don’t fit that heteronormative ideal. There are still a lot of issues that need to be addressed out there, that’s true. But why not make that part of the celebration and think about how much more time we’ll be able to devote to them now that this big, important, momentous decision has settled one of our issues? Do we need to have some heavy conversations about representation, and cross-marginalization, and privilege? Of course we do. But not today.
Today, we don’t have to divide ourselves between those clamoring to walk down the aisle and receive the paperwork for their efforts and those of us who are sick of the whole white-gowned, unity-candled mess. It’s just like being Pro Choice: even if you don’t think you’d choose to have an abortion, or know that you would never make that choice, it’s good to know that the choice belongs to you and not some gray-faced man in a Brooks Brothers suit. Having the option you would already pick be the default under a restrictive law is not the same as having the freedom to choose for yourself. The same with marriage. If you don’t want to get married you still don’t have to. It just means that those who do, can.
And it means that if those of us who aren’t riding the marriage train suddenly change routes at a future station, we can continue to enjoy the ride. And it also means in my next divorce, I can finally get some alimony.
Time for this bitch to marry up.
Tags: Alabama, gay marriage, Gay Marriage Equality, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Marriage Equality, Miss Jaye, same sex marriage, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Marriage Ruling, Universal Life Church, World of Champagne