Can Black Women Lead on Rethinking Marriage?

By Dani McClain, cross-posted from On The Issues Magazine.

One highlight of Election Day 2012: voters in Maryland, Washington and Maine deciding, with their ballots, whether people in same-sex relationships will be allowed to marry.

Black voters in those states — especially Maryland, which is nearly one-third African American – may need to take cover. We know about the backlash black Californians faced after Prop. 8 passed. We also know about National Organization for Marriage’s cynical efforts to drive a wedge between black and gay Americans.

But what we don’t know and what I’d love for some exit poll to find out is whether black voters — especially straight black women — actually are skeptical of marriage equality for reasons that have nothing to do with homophobia. Could it be that we’re not motivated to support these initiatives because we’re not convinced that marriage should grant access to human rights in the first place?

Beyond Wedded Union

If black women are holding out for something better than marriage, then we’re acting in our own self-interest. According to a review of 2010 Census data and as reported last year, black women are at the vanguard of reframing family for the 21st century: “Among African-Americans, U.S. households headed by women — mostly single mothers but also adult women living with siblings or elderly parents — represented roughly 30% of all African-American households, compared with the 28% share of married-couple African-American households. It was the first time the number of female-headed households surpassed those of married couples among any race group.”

When these heads of household go to the polls, they may be thinking about their own desire to directly access quality healthcare or tax breaks, not whether the inability to marry is keeping someone else from the circuitous route people in the United States have come to accept.

The women described above may soon set aside any acceptance of stigma and instead start to see themselves as a political constituency. And once this happens, the same-sex marriage conversation will be forever changed. Bigots may find themselves starved for attention as the movement is forced to confront legitimate push-back.

I know that for some, that vision — outlined clearly in the Beyond Marriage statement is too farsighted for someone who faces deportation tomorrow because they can’t marry the person they love today. I know that Salt Lake City’s mutual commitment registry is too local for that Texan whose heart is breaking because she can’t visit her hospitalized partner. And I can see why the history of the fight to pass the federal Comprehensive Child Development Act in the early ’70s is of no consolation to the person who lacks rights to the child they’re raising today.

That said, these examples and the work of campaigns such as Strong Families have been sources of inspiration for me as someone who worries about the marriage equality movement’s blind spots. They’ve helped me and others understand who gets hurt when romantic and sexual relationships registered with the state (as opposed to, say, familial or friendship bonds) are privileged under the law.

There are alternatives to treating marriage as the brass ring, and progressive family economic policy — accessible to all Americans, regardless of marital status — is the goal that makes the most sense for a growing number of us.

The War On (Single) Women

Of course, even if we got all progressives on board with that goal, we’d face a real fight from the Right. Conservative rhetoric and policy have long depended on the demonization of unmarried women — from Nixon’s veto of a universal childcare bill four decades ago followed by Reagan’s welfare queens to Rick Santorum, during this year’s primary season, asserting that the way to “reduce the Democratic advantage” is to build traditional two-parent families. Through the years, the right’s underlying argument has been consistent: Within the traditional, patriarchal family structure, daddy provides so government doesn’t have to, and that’s a good thing.

The right-wing message machine has been savvy in this arena, but recently efforts to malign unmarried women have gotten a lot more desperate. Last year, two Wisconsin legislators proposed a bill based on the allegation that single parenthood is a leading cause of child abuse. Following their argument requires a suspension of logic, but the bill was really just the latest attempt to drive home the opening words of the 1996 federal welfare-reform law: “Marriage is the foundation of a successful society.”

One particularly aggressive piece of that law incentivized states to convince low-income women that the life-sustaining support they and their children needed could and should be provided by husbands rather than by government. These Bridefare programs added sweeteners to the checks of married couples while slashing — sometimes by as much as a quarter — the benefits of cohabiting unmarried adults.

Writing in the pages of The Nation in 2002, Katha Pollitt critiqued this trend in government marriage promotion: “Why should the government try to maneuver reluctant women into dubious choices just because they are poor?… Instead of marketing marriage as a poverty program, how much better to invest in poor women — and men — as human beings in their own right… Every TANF [Temporary Aid for Needy Families] dollar spent on marital propaganda means a dollar less for programs that really help people.”

How are these Bridefare marriages doing a decade later? Did they improve the financial stability of participants? Have their divorce rates been lower than national averages? The answers may be further proof that the right wing’s belief in a marriage cure is flawed. They’d also tell us something how marriage is experienced by low-income and poor women, and how those experiences match up to the messages pushed by prominent groups within the marriage equality movement.

Soccer Moms, NASCAR Dads and Satisfied Singles

The obsession with unmarried women isn’t just political. It’s cultural, too. The film amplifying Steve Harvey’s ubiquitous advice that we should “act like a lady, think like a man” is just the latest example. Two years ago, the mainstream media’s fascination with black women’s marriage rates hit a high point, and we became the topic of a conversation that we were not in a position to control. Unfortunately, that conversation was driven by media outlets that couldn’t be bothered to check their numbers.

When 2009 data showed that 70.5 percent of black women between the ages of 25 and 29 had never been married, the narrowness of that age range was often left out of mainstream news reports. Headlines implied that 70 percent of all black women had never married. The truth is that as we age a majority do, but still not at the same rates as women of other races and ethnicities. According to the same data, 13 percent of black women age 55 and older had never married, compared with just five percent of white and Asian women and nine percent of Latinas.

These stats — while not as wildly surprising as initial reports suggested — support my thesis: Unmarried black women are an untapped force for change because we’re more likely to stay that way and so are best positioned to lobby on behalf of the rights of single people and those in non-traditional families.

But there’s at least one reason why we’re not doing it. A number of black women across the sexual preference spectrum do desperately want to be married. Rather than heed some rallying cry to demand that policies reflect our realities, many of us are mired in frustration. What can feel most pressing is that marriage is out of reach because of larger social forces, such as the high incarceration rates of black men, the joblessness that has hit our communities especially hard during this recession (14 percent of black people in the U.S. were unemployed in July, compared to eight percent of the population as a whole), white supremacist beauty standards and other factors that put us at a disadvantage in the marriage market. These are real concerns.

I don’t expect that a sizable number of unmarried black women will publicly eschew marriage and brand themselves as a voting bloc anytime soon. But I do think it’s coming. And a review of how we vote on marriage initiatives may offer a window into how far away that day is.

265 comments for “Can Black Women Lead on Rethinking Marriage?

  1. Rhoanna
    September 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    While I definitely support recognizing and supporting relationships other than marriage (to put it far too simply), I fail to see how a vote against marriage equality in any way helps further the goals of rethinking marriage.

    • EG
      September 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      I completely agree.

    • EG
      September 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Because if you really want to decenter marriage’s special cache, open it up as much as possible. To everybody. Siblings. Best friends. Make the benefits it offers as accessible as possible so that as many people as possible can take advantage of them. That’s what will destabilize the US’s fucked up system of distributing healthcare, for example. Making marriage exclusive only makes it more possible marginalize more people’s needs.

    • im
      September 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      … destabilize the crappy healthcare system? Am I missing something here?

    • (BFing)Sarah
      September 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      I agree, Rhoanna and EG. So a legitimate concern that your relationships are not being given validity should lead you to…not legitimize other people’s relationships?

      Plus, The point of marriage equality is not (just) to gain the rights of married couples, the point is also to be allowed to be married to the person you love. As cynical as I am, I don’t believe it is JUST about healthcare, being able to see a loved one on zir deathbead, etc (although of course people should be entitled to those rights), its also about having your love and commitment to another human being be legitimized by society.

  2. Asia
    September 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I agree Rohanna but I think people frustrated with the martial problems within the black community don’t have sympathy for strangers wanting to get married. Add to the fact that tradition doesn’t leave a place for LGBT people. I’ve met many African-Americans that don’t understand why gay marriage is being discussed when it only effects a small part of the population. A part that they don’t identify with or think about. There are LGBT African-Americans but we aren’t seen leading the marriage fight. I don’t think the average African-American is concerned with the fate of African-American LGBT people when she thinks about politics.

    • EG
      September 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      But those objections–that the tradition has no place for LGBTQ people, that many black voters don’t think about or identify with black LGBTQ people–are, contrary to what the OP says, rooted in homophobia.

      • September 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm

        But those objections–that the tradition has no place for LGBTQ people, that many black voters don’t think about or identify with black LGBTQ people–are, contrary to what the OP says, rooted in homophobia.

        I would disagree with your use of the term ‘rooted in.’

      • Bagelsan
        September 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

        “Completed caused by” perhaps?

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

        I assumed he meant the sentence should read “But those objections–that the tradition has no place for LGBTQ people, that many black voters don’t think about or identify with black LGBTQ people–are, contrary to what the OP says, rooted in homophobia.” And I approve that message as well.

    • September 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Don’t you think that the invisibility of AA people in general contributes to that effect? I can think of several black celebrities, etc who’ve come out in favour of marriage equality off the top of my head…

      • konkonsn
        September 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm

        I could be completely wrong on this as I barely watch mainstream television, but I feel like the lack representation of gay people of color (and lesbians) in a lot of ‘family’ shows is a real issue. I feel like every time I see a positive gay family on television (I’m thinking shows like Modern Family and…there’s a new one I just saw commercials for), it’s always two white men.

        I mean, yes, celebrities are great and everything, but having characters on a show humanizes them because you watch their daily lives.

      • September 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

        You’re not wrong. I don’t watch much mainstream TV either, but I do keep an eye on non-straight-cis people being represented, and I’m getting really tired of white gay men (because men can’t be bi don’tcha know) being the only kind of non-heteronormative there is.

  3. Anon21
    September 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Yeah, unless expanding access to the benefits of marriage is on the ballot as an alternative to marriage equality, it’s really hard to credit this article’s theory of why black women in particular might justifiably vote against marriage equality.

  4. Miss S
    September 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    In my experience, black women have kind of separated themselves in an effort to focus exclusively on the issues affecting them. The blogs and websites I read that are black women centered, (a few of them are BWE, or black women empowerment spaces), are comprised mostly of heterosexual black women.

    When these spaces are discussing marriage, they are discussing the way it affects them, because the understood goal is how to better black women. Not other races, not anyone who is lgbt, etc. The topic I see discussed most frequently as it relates to marriage is interracial relationships and marriage. Marriage equality doesn’t come up frequently, because that issue doesn’t affect the core group. Several other issues do, so that’s where the focus lies. I doubt it’s about homophobia as much as it’s about prioritizing the needs of one group, and focusing on that instead. I haven’t come across anyone in these spaces who is against marriage equality.

    • DonnaL
      September 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      I haven’t come across anyone in these spaces who is against marriage equality.

      Good. Focusing on your own issues? Heterocentic, but not necessarily homophobic. But I simply don’t buy the implication in the OP that actual, affirmative opposition to marriage equality can be “for reasons that have nothing to do with homophobia.”

      • Miss S
        September 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

        Heterocentric by necessity, because no one, and I repeat, NO ONE else, can discuss the issues and challenges of single, black, heterosexual women without being disgustingly offensive. Sadly, some black publications have been just as terrible.

        As for your second point, I could have been clearer, and I did clarify downthread- I don’t know any black women who are opposed to marriage equality. My post was my opinion as to why black women (in the spaces I frequent) don’t seem concerned about marriage equality, not why they oppose it.

      • Bagelsan
        September 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

        So who’s supposed to discuss the issues of all the black women that cis, het black women purposefully leave out? :/

      • September 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm

        Bagelsan, that’s a bit idisingenuous. Straight black women have every right to focus solely on their own issues. They have a right to ignore non-straight black women’s issues on their own spaces. Hell, they even have a right to be homophobic fuckwads (just like men or white people or whoever, free speech is a thing). They just don’t have the right to then expect to never be called homophobic, when they’re homophobes.

      • Bagelsan
        September 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        When one says “heterosexual black women” without including the many other black women, I think that’s really erasing a space that needs to exist; certainly black queer people aren’t overflowing with support compared to straight black people, although both ultimately get screwed. Having a space that is explicitly heterosexual and acting like that can or should represent black womanhood… doesn’t sound so great to me. But it’s not really my discussion so I’m not going to get too into my opinion on that, just that heterocentrism isn’t any prettier in color than in white.

    • September 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      In my experience, black women have kind of separated themselves in an effort to focus exclusively on the issues affecting them. The blogs and websites I read that are black women centered, (a few of them are BWE, or black women empowerment spaces), are comprised mostly of heterosexual black women.

      When these spaces are discussing marriage, they are discussing the way it affects them, because the understood goal is how to better black women. Not other races, not anyone who is lgbt, etc. The topic I see discussed most frequently as it relates to marriage is interracial relationships and marriage. Marriage equality doesn’t come up frequently, because that issue doesn’t affect the core group. Several other issues do, so that’s where the focus lies. I doubt it’s about homophobia as much as it’s about prioritizing the needs of one group, and focusing on that instead. I haven’t come across anyone in these spaces who is against marriage equality.

      It makes sense that people would be focused on the issues that affect them, their community and their families first and foremost. I also think you are right that if a heterosexual black woman doesn’t mention marriage equality on her blog, it by no means stands to reason she’s against it.

      But surely marriage equality is just a smaller part of the overall concept of ‘equal protection under the law,’ and therefore heterosexual black women involved in their communities are working just as hard for the overall umbrella of equal protection albeit in an different segment.

      Despite agreeing with you on those points, where I jump off is that I’m not entirely convinced it doesn’t ‘affect the core group.’ All these heterosexual women have gay people in their families, friends, co-workers, etc. It does affect them.

      • BlackLizLemon
        September 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        But surely marriage equality is just a smaller part of the overall concept of ‘equal protection under the law,’ and therefore heterosexual black women involved in their communities are working just as hard for the overall umbrella of equal protection albeit in an different segment.

        Despite agreeing with you on those points, where I jump off is that I’m not entirely convinced it doesn’t ‘affect the core group.’ All these heterosexual women have gay people in their families, friends, co-workers, etc. It does affect them.

        THANK YOU!

    • kungfulola
      September 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      …the understood goal is how to better black women. Not other races, not anyone who is lgbt, etc.

      This phrasing makes it sound like “LGBT” and “black women” are mutually exclusive groups…. was that intentional?

      • Asia
        September 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm

        I think that many black women do see them as exclusive groups. Queer women of color are not usually in the conversations.

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm

        I thought it was clear from my post, but by ‘better black women’ I was referring to the women who were having the conversation in those spaces.

        Or it was intentional. You pick.

  5. SamLL
    September 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    In what way is this not a completely pure expression of heterosexual privilege? “I don’t have to care about this issue”, “this is not important to me”, “my abstract thinking about principles outweighs the important concerns of your life”, etc.

    • (BFing)Sarah
      September 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      I feel better that I’m not the only person feeling this way. I had the same types of thoughts.

  6. September 17, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    What can feel most pressing is that marriage is out of reach because of larger social forces…these are real concerns.

    Unlike the unreal concerns of LGBTQ people – some of us are Of Colour, if not As Oppressed Colour, by the way – who want to get married. Because wanting things to get better for African Americans can, in some bizarre way, be incongruous with wanting things to get better for LGBTQ people, because you have “real concerns” that somehow preclude being for marriage equality. Right. Or, you know. Not.

    • September 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      Also, knowing a number of wonderful African American women just on this site, and many more besides, I think that your claiming to speak for them with your bullshit assertion that there are “real reasons” why people oppose marriage equality is incredibly offensive. Seriously, asserting that AA women are collectively the “Well I don’t get to, so fuck you!” type? Wow. Just…wow.

      • Lolagirl
        September 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

        I’m scratching my head on this explanation as well to some extent. Is it supposed to be like the converse of I got mine politics? I don’t get my equality, so you don’t your equality either?

      • September 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm

        Yes! I mean. What the actual fuck? I assume the person who wrote this article is a black woman…. at least, I devoutly hope so, because otherwise I’m going to have to call sexist/racist as the case may be. As it stands, there’s clearly some internalised bullshit going on.

      • DouglasG
        September 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm

        “Last year, she was selected by the online magazine, The Root, as one of 20 leading black women social activists.”

        Anyway, fondness for having John Mortimer Explain It All For Me leads me to think that the idea here is sort of I Got Mine Projected, with the example being the expectation that somebody else who might get a certain advantage will turn into Phyllida Erskine Brown, who (when still Miss Trant) gradually became accepted as the only woman barrister at Number Three Equity Court during an era of high chauvinism but then consistently opposed proposals to admit other women.

      • September 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        Douglas, I totally agree.

        I just hope the LGBTQ WOC regulars here don’t read this post. I imagine it would make their heads explode with ARGLEGLARGLE.

  7. Chataya
    September 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    So the way to overthrow traditional marriage and its traditional place in society is by…keeping it exactly the way it is?

    I’m confused.

  8. Jon
    September 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Could someone please point out to me where she advocated voting against marriage equality? I know that I’ve voted in favor of issues or candidates I’ve been skeptical of because they were the lesser of two evils. That doesn’t make any discussion of the reasons I might be skeptical of the lesser evil support for the greater.

    • SophiaBlue
      September 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      I don’t think she outright advocated for voting against marriage equality, but she does have this paragraph (emphasis mine):

      But what we don’t know and what I’d love for some exit poll to find out is whether black voters — especially straight black women — actually are skeptical of marriage equality for reasons that have nothing to do with homophobia. Could it be that we’re not motivated to support these initiatives because we’re not convinced that marriage should grant access to human rights in the first place?

      which seems to suggest that, at least, there are good reasons to vote against marriage equality.

      • September 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        Yes, that quote. Also the bit where she goes off about this:

        What can feel most pressing is that marriage is out of reach because of larger social forces, such as the high incarceration rates of black men….these are real reasons.

        Because, you know, black men being incarcerated (I wasn’t aware that prison dissolved marriages, but what do I know) and thus unavailable for single black women to date is EXACTLY like non-straight people not being allowed to marry legally.

      • Jon
        September 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm

        Look, people are entitled to different political priorities. Talking about the issues that face the black community surrounding race is in no way equivalent to the nonsense you and others are accusing her of putting forward. She’s been repeatedly accused of advocating against marriage equality when only the most strained, disingenuous reading can get there.

        And you know what? This discussion was already borderline racist, but dismissing the problems mass incarceration pose to the black community, yes, including on issues like marriage? You’ve officially flown way past that border.

      • September 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

        Dude, if saying that black men’s incarceration has nothing to do with marriage equality is racist, I guess this third-world Indian woman should be off repurposing her cheapo white curtains.

        Also: from the article – FROM THE FUCKING ARTICLE:

        my thesis: Unmarried black women are an untapped force for change because we’re more likely to stay that way and so are best positioned to lobby on behalf of the rights of single people and those in non-traditional families.

        But there’s at least one reason why we’re not doing it.

        I repeat:

        there’s at least one reason why we’re not

        I’m not “accusing” her of anything she didn’t open her mouth and spew herself. So to speak.

        Also, her statement here:

        If black women are holding out for something better than marriage, then we’re acting in our own self-interest.

        I should point out that “better than marriage” here means “voting against marriage equality because they’re holding out for something against marriage”. The entire fucking discussion is about the TOTES NON-HOMOPHOBIC REEZUNS that black people are voting against marriage equality. Which is, by the fucking way, a straw man; black people don’t vote against marriage equality at rates greater than the general population (which, may I remind you, o mighty crusader, is mostly non-black). This woman is positing a false, stereotyped, racist thesis about an entire race to further her own goddamn “real reasons” for voting against marriage equality, and that is homophobic. Period.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm

        Dude, if saying that black men’s incarceration has nothing to do with marriage equality is racist

        It is racist. Incarcerating black men in high numbers ensures fewer black children are 1) born 2) have a 2 parent family and 3)have a better chance of escaping poverty 4) you get more single welfare Queens to punish 5) can’t get married therefore their spouses receive no benefits from marriage nor do their children (which keeps them in poverty as well) 6) more likely to end up repeating the cycle

        How does any of that have nothing to do with marriage equality?

        This sums it up for me–

        htt p://theangryblackwoman.com/2011/08/07/of-activists-feminism-mammy-issues/

        1. If your biggest complaint about American black women & their activism is that they are so focused on their fight that they aren’t willing to fight your battles? It might be time to examine your internalized Mammy issues.

        2. If you think we owe you admission to our spaces & silence while you’re in them? It might be time to examine your internalized Mammy issues.

        3. If you think we owe you our time, energy, & passion and you owe us nothing? It is time to examine your Mammy issues.

        I’m not here to clean up your mess, carry your spear, hold your hand, or cheer you own while I suffer in silence. I’m not here to raise your children, assuage your guilt, build your platforms, or fight your battles. If you don’t like the spaces that we’ve carved out for ourselves, or the way we run them? That’s fine. BUILD YOUR OWN SPACES! DO YOUR OWN WORK! You want a partner? I’m down. You want a Mammy? Get away from me before I really hurt your feelings.

        Newsflash: That Mammy thing? That claptrap about the happy servant overjoyed to leave her family to serve someone else’s? That was just that a convenient myth for racists. Those same racists are still exporting the ideal that we are too loud, too angry, too ugly, & too beastly to be treated as human. We heard it when we were slaves & we heard it through Jim Crow, & we are still hearing it now as we sit at the intersection of racism & misogyny in our own culture.That’s why we’re fighting back on our own terms.

        We are fighting a war on so many sides that it isn’t even funny & we already know that many of our so called allies will stab us in the back if it benefits their cause. We have had this fight with black men, white women, the LGBT community, & so many others that I could write three lists. So, if all you have to say to us is more whining about how we’re not making activism easier for you? We don’t care. We’re not going to care. Pick up the tools we’ve already created & use them or go wallow in your misery somewhere else.

        Now, please go tell it on the mountain about how I’ve silenced you & let me know if that accomplishes anything for your cause. I’ll tell you a secret…it won’t do anything, but keep you wasting your energy on supporting the same oppressors you claim to be fighting. Address those Mammy issues, address your own issues, do something about some issue somewhere except look at us to fix it for you.

      • im
        September 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

        … WHAT THE?

        While I agree that every side of this can be or is problematic, esp. when taken individually, that wall of text says more about you than about any individual person posting here. Mammy stereotypes? I don’t see how that even comes up.

        I think the issue here is that while we should be saying ‘both this and that’, favoring both marriage equality and less privileging of marriage in general, this person is kind of dissuading people from even supporting the marriage law equality in the first place. There is a difference between being self-centered and trying to de-center others.

      • Jon
        September 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

        I would respectfully suggest rereading that “wall of text” until you do see how it comes up. Defensiveness and dismissiveness are not appropriate responses when someone points out racism (or misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, etc). This is some 101 level shit right here.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm

        this person is kind of dissuading people from even supporting the marriage law equality in the first place

        I have yet to read anything saying Black women OPPOSE marriage equality. But non Black women have been very quick to turn this article into just that. And people just can’t puzzle out what other reasons these Black women might have for focusing on their own, immediate issues (which again, does not = opposition but whenever Back people or PoC focus on their own issues it’s turned into opposition) that have nothing to do with homophobia.

        That link and list just gave a very good reason for focusing on their own issues that had zero to do with homophobia. Such as, the very, very long track record of other groups expecting Black women to fight with or for other people. (aka mammy issues) And these Black women getting thrown under the bus in return. They’re being thrown under the bus right now, in this thread. They’re not fighting your fight (or they’re not being perceived to be fighting your fight) so it must by default be homophobic opposition.

        If Black women are juggling 10 balls in the air, but can’t pick up one more, that’s not opposition. And it being spun into opposition is race based bullshit.

        actually are skeptical of marriage equality for reasons that have nothing to do with homophobia.

        Being skeptical of marriage equality doesn’t mean opposed to marriage equality, it means you think equality isn’t (or even shouldn’t) hinge on marriage. And Black people in this country have been down that road. The ability to marry a free person didn’t suddenly grant equality to freed slaves. The ability to marry a white person didn’t suddenly grant equality. Amazingly enough, winning these rights to marry didn’t fix everything. The inherently racist system that is the life blood of this country just found new ways to throw wrenches into the mix. That? That’s likely where the skepticism comes from. And it’s not homophobic.

        But here’s an opportunity to rake Black women over the coals, so we can’t pass that up.

      • September 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

        Being skeptical of marriage equality doesn’t mean opposed to marriage equality,

        Voting against marriage equality means opposed to marriage equality. And she was speaking of exit polls for people who voted against marriage equality, was she not?

        1. If your biggest complaint about American black women & their activism is that they are so focused on their fight that they aren’t willing to fight your battles? It might be time to examine your internalized Mammy issues.

        I don’t want your support, your handholding, your cheering, your mammying or any fucking thing. I want you to not specifically haul your ass to a voting booth to take away my rights. (There was no other issue being voted on that day. No other reason to vote except to reject marriage equality.) Seriously, I don’t want you to give way on the road or drive me to my job, I want you to not repeatedly shoot my car. Is that so much to ask?

        3. If you think we owe you our time, energy, & passion and you owe us nothing? It is time to examine your Mammy issues.

        I owe you all my voting support for your rights, since you’re a human being who deserves them. You owe me likewise. It’s what decent human beings do for each other. It’s what, by the fucking way, black women do for each other, unlike the racist memes this article’s trying to prop up about black women being homophobic.

        Jon, I’m asking her to not advocate that people make a specific and conscious effort take away rights I need TO LIVE. (Homosexuality is still illegal in my country of origin. I could be jailed, raped, or shoved in a mental asylum.) This isn’t the same as saying that black women don’t have a right to fisheye marriage.

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm

        It is racist. Incarcerating black men in high numbers ensures fewer black children are 1) born 2) have a 2 parent family and 3)have a better chance of escaping poverty 4) you get more single welfare Queens to punish 5) can’t get married therefore their spouses receive no benefits from marriage nor do their children (which keeps them in poverty as well) 6) more likely to end up repeating the cycle

        Also, holy shit, I totally missed how all of this is the fault of gay people who want to get married. I’d love to see any causation, or hell, any correlation, since, you know, telling someone they’re homophobic for advocating against marriage equality is apparently racist these days.

        I mean, when I get gay married next month, are black people going to go to jail because of it? The registrar’s going to wander over to the nearest house with black people and demand that the men go to jail because gay people got married in this town? Or is it a preemptive thing? Do I have to present my “six black men went to jail” certificate before I can slip a ring on my wife’s finger? Inquiring gay people want to know! I’d hate to have an illegal marriage.

        But here’s an opportunity to rake Black women over the coals, so we can’t pass that up.

        Oh, for fuck’s sake. Discussing how one black woman is homophobic isn’t the same as saying all black women are. I’ve argued explicitly against tarring black people with that brush several times on this thread, some of those before you showed up and started yelling at me, others after. And if you’re going to talk about how only black people can determine if a given statement is racist against black people, I suggest you fucking step back, check your straight privilege at the door and let us discuss what’s homophobic and what isn’t.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm

        And she was speaking of exit polls for people who voted against marriage equality, was she not?

        What I read were polls from people who had other shit on their mind, not marriage equality. That means either for OR against. If it’s not on your mind, then it’s not on your mind.

        I want you to not repeatedly shoot my car. Is that so much to ask?

        Wow. You really think that’s the best analogy to make give that Black people especially are viewed as gun toting gang thugs? REALLY?

        unlike the racist memes this article’s trying to prop up about black women being homophobic.

        So far you seem to be supporting this racist meme. Because Black women aren’t thinking about marriage equality when they go vote is turned into shooting at your car analogies.

        Also, holy shit, I totally missed how all of this is the fault of gay people who want to get married.

        Yeah. Because I said that. Oh wait, no I didn’t. What I said was it’s RACIST to claim incarceration of Black men has zero to do with marriage equality. Racist and IGNORANT, I’ll add.

        I suggest you fucking step back, check your straight privilege at the door and let us discuss what’s homophobic and what isn’t.

        You can. But you won’t get a free pass when that assumption is largely race based and shows your ignorance of Back womens issues in this country.

      • Bagelsan
        September 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

        So far you seem to be supporting this racist meme. Because Black women aren’t thinking about marriage equality when they go vote is turned into shooting at your car analogies.

        C’mon, when the only issue up for a vote is marriage equality and it gets shot down? That’s not because women voters (black or otherwise) are “too busy” to think about it, or they’re voting on more “important” issues, it’s because the majority of voters are homophobes (black or otherwise.)

        And a second c’mon; you really think macavitykitsune is trying to play up a black thug stereotype? I thought we kind of know her here.

      • September 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm

        What I read were polls from people who had other shit on their mind, not marriage equality. That means either for OR against. If it’s not on your mind, then it’s not on your mind.

        If you have other shit on your mind than marriage equality, don’t fucking go vote when the only thing up for vote is marriage equality. It’s not like the appeal said “We want gay marriage….and to eat babies for breakfast every day.” or “We want gay marriage and sunshine and rainbow farts for everybody! Except those black guys. Fuck them. They go to jail.” or “We want gay marriage…and to take all the nice things away from black women! MUAHAHAHAHA.”

        Seriously. One issue. Gay marriage. Yes? No?

        One vote.

        There was no other issue there except homophobia.

        If you were arguing about black people voting republican in this election, I could see your point about other issues weighing in, but Prop 8? Nothing else was going on.

        Because Black women aren’t thinking about marriage equality when they go vote is turned into shooting at your car analogies.

        Yes. Because effectively supporting a measure that would send thousands of women in my situation back to countries where they face rape, death, imprisonment, forced marriage is homophobic and cruel. And homophobic. And I’m really, truly, absitively, posolutely sorry that you think calling someone a homophobe is worse than being hurt by their homophobia. (Spoiler: no, I’m not.)

        You really think that’s the best analogy to make give that Black people especially are viewed as gun toting gang thugs? REALLY?

        I apologise for the analogy I used, and for anyone I may have hurt with it. It was unintentionally promoting stereotypes.

      • EG
        September 19, 2012 at 8:12 am

        htt p://theangryblackwoman.com/2011/08/07/of-activists-feminism-mammy-issues/

        The Angry Black Woman is queer, and she’s pro-marriage equality. Just by the way.

        “Black women” and “LGBTQ people” are not mutually exclusive categories. When straight cis black women vote against marriage equality (which I see no evidence that they do in particularly disproportionate numbers), they are voting to deny a subset of black women rights that those women need.

      • (BFing)Sarah
        September 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        Yes, I think that paragraph does imply that there are women out there voting on this issue (the bit about EXIT polls…implies the person just voted on an issue) against marriage and that there are reasons for it other than homophobia. The fact that that statement is right before the bit about “why we are not motivated to support these initiatives.” So if the author is not excusing not supporting these initiatives by voting against marriage equality initiatives, she should have worded it better. That’s how it reads, despite all the “but I do think gay people should be able to get married and everything” wording at the end. She didn’t say this is why black women might not be motivated to come out and vote at all on the issue, or why they might not be ACTIVE on the issue–which is a different matter entirely, IMO.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm

        And a second c’mon; you really think macavitykitsune is trying to play up a black thug stereotype? I thought we kind of know her here.

        No, I think she ignorantly used it. And it’s fucking insensitive as all hell, and a racist analogy. Intent or no.

        There was no other issue there except homophobia

        Unless you’re holding out for something better and know that a yes vote means that much longer before something better gets to be introduced. Because that trickle down effect has a funny way of never making it to the bottom. Or taking 10 times as long to reach. Do you think Black people (especially Black women) are unaware of this? Or should they just suck it up and do what gets you yours when that means theirs may never come?

        And voting for Election 2012 hasn’t happened yet. So that one vote you’re talking about? Yeah,people unfairly (and RACISTLY) blamed Black people for it. As if Back people single fucking handedly decided the outcome. Some of that 57&? Sure. Homophobic as any other person. But there ARE other reasons to vote NO that are NOT homophobic. Such as wanting equality without marriage and knowing you won’t get it so long as same sex marriage equality is passed because of the backlash against it. (ie- we already gave gays the right to get married, now those lazy Black welfare Queens want the rights attached to marriage without being married!!! If they want to visit their sick spouse they should have gotten married instead of living in SIN. Should have married that man before having his kids and then watching him go to prison leaving you screwed because the car is in his name or the lease or the electric bill and by the time you get power of attorney-providing you can afford it- your shit will be repossessed. etc etc) Those are reasons to hold out that had nothing at all to do with homophobia. And the upcoming election- for many, marriage equality isn’t something they think about because they have too many balls in the air as it is.

        So yes. There are valid, reality based reasons (not just ideology) for opposing the current marriage equality vote that do not boil down to homophobia.

      • September 18, 2012 at 11:57 pm

        Unless you’re holding out for something better and know that a yes vote means that much longer before something better gets to be introduced. Because that trickle down effect has a funny way of never making it to the bottom. Or taking 10 times as long to reach. Do you think Black people (especially Black women) are unaware of this? Or should they just suck it up and do what gets you yours when that means theirs may never come?

        But then in the meantime gay people (which includes gay women of colour) get to wait for a trickle down that isn’t coming for them either?

        And I don’t actually understand how gay people getting married makes things even harder for straight black women. If the idea is that black women are trying to reform marriage, then doesn’t the reformation of it once open the door to further reformation? (E.g., the way that interracial marriages have helped pave the way for gay marriage equality.) Or is the idea that traditional marriage needs to be shored up as much as possible and that gay marriage then represents a threat to this which won’t be abided? Because I don’t buy that line at all – traditional marriage as an institution has been *traditionally* damaging, heterocentrist, and misogynistic, including toward women of colour – the one thing I can kind of get from the OP is that black women could benefit as well from a more just legal version of recognizing families and partnerships. And it still doesn’t justify privileging the needs of straight black women over queer people, a group which, and this can’t be stressed enough, *includes* men and women of colour anymore than queer people’s needs should be privileged over those of POC. There has to be a better kind of compromise than stabbing each other in the back over this.

      • September 19, 2012 at 12:02 am

        I definitely agree that gay marriage equality won’t solve racism, but neither does gay marriage *in*equality, and the racists and their supporters are going to find reasons to slam black men and women no matter how they vote. The continued animosity (which has been absolutely also fuelled by racist white queers) is only giving more ammunition to the bigots who would screw all of us.

      • September 19, 2012 at 12:39 am

        And voting for Election 2012 hasn’t happened yet. So that one vote you’re talking about? Yeah,people unfairly (and RACISTLY) blamed Black people for it.

        ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. We are discussing Prop 8. We have ALWAYS been discussing Prop 8. There has been no discussion of the 2012 election (except when I mentioned that a general vote makes more sense for black women to skew to their own issues rather than Prop 8). STOP FUCKING SHIFTING THE GOALPOSTS, you fucking homophobe. Denying gay people the LEGAL RIGHT to get married because black women MIGHT get (more) shamed for being unmarried “now that the gays are doing it”?

        How much of vindictive assholes do you think straight black women are, anyway? I mean, I’ve even exchanged words with anti-gay straight black women and even THEY didn’t come up with such a petty, shitty, rotten, “If I can’t have you no one will” attitude to marriage equality. NOT EVEN ANTI-GAY BLACK WOMEN ARE THIS FUCKING ASSHOLE.

        I will give you cookies and whip myself with bootlaces for three hours tomorrow if you can give me any – any – significant way in which my getting gay married will change the life of any straight black woman in the world for the worse.

        Unless it’s because she has a hopelessly incurable heteroflexible internet-crush on me and will cry tears of fire that I’m off the market. That would be okay.

    • Miss S
      September 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Pheeno, everything you said times a million. Especially this:
      If Black women are juggling 10 balls in the air, but can’t pick up one more, that’s not opposition. .

      This is precisely the reason for the separation I noted. As long as black women are in other spaces, they’re expected to fight everyone else’s battles while everyone gets to ignore theirs.

      • (BFing)Sarah
        September 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

        No, not picking up another ball is not ‘opposition.’ But checking a box that says that you want to deny other people the right to marry each other? That is. That is opposition and THAT is what this article is talking about. Voting against marriage equality, for any reason, is opposition. Not voting at all on the issue: fine. Not fighting for another person’s equality makes sense if you have your own fish to fry, fine. But fighting AGAINST someone else’s equality (by going to the polls to vote against it), that does not make sense.

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm

        Miss S,

        I really feel that I should point out that I’m arguing that specifically voting to take away gay people’s rights (or ensure they don’t have them in the first place) isn’t the same thing as refusing to invest energy in gay rights movements. I don’t give a flying fuck if any given person isn’t interested in doing anything to support my cause. But I do have the right to call someone homophobic for thinking there are “real reasons” to actively damage it.

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

        macavitykitsune- I completely agree. As you wrote above, asking someone not to haul their ass to the voting booth and vote for taking away rights is not the same thing as asking them to focus exclusively on their needs. My comment wasn’t directed to that line of thinking.

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm

        Miss S, I didn’t think you were directing your comment there either – it doesn’t fit with your other comments – I just wanted to clarify that that was not what you were saying, as the rest of pheeno’s comment was pretty headtilty. Thanks!

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

        I really feel that I should point out that I’m arguing that specifically voting to take away gay people’s rights (or ensure they don’t have them in the first place) isn’t the same thing as refusing to invest energy in gay rights movements.

        Sounds like you’re saying the ONLY reason Black women aren’t voting for marriage equality is homophobia and that any reason they might have to be skeptical of that equality must be homophobia and not any real reason except homophobia. Which ignores a whole fuck load of Black history and context.

        There’s a huge difference between not voting yes because you don’t believe X group should be married and not voting yes because you know that whole equality via marriage rights is bullshit to begin with. Like how the white family you married into can use the racist court system to deny those spousal rights even though you rightfully should have them after marriage.

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm

        Also, macavitykitsune, to be honest, I don’t see black women being skeptical of marriage as an institution. Frustrated for the reasons I’ve mentioned, sure. But skeptical? I haven’t seen that. I’m not suggesting it’s not true, just that I’m not sure it’s widespread.

        I would have to imagine that religion, not race, (although religion is a bit cultural for many black americans, so a bit harder to separate) would explain those who are actively voting against it.

        In fact, most of the bwe blogs I follow are advocating for bw to take a step back from black churches and figure out if those values really match up with an individuals values. Church vs Christianity. So if religion is playing a role, I would imagine that it would play less of a role in the future, not more.

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm

        Last one: Assuming handfasted means engaged, congrats!

      • SophiaBlue
        September 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm

        Sounds like you’re saying the ONLY reason Black women aren’t voting for marriage equality is homophobia and that any reason they might have to be skeptical of that equality must be homophobia and not any real reason except homophobia.

        LGBTQ people have been arguing that throughout this thread, yes. Look, I agree that the institution of marriage is hugely flawed in a number of ways. Voting against marriage equality won’t do anything to fix that. All voting against marriage equality will do is ensure that gay couples are denied rights and their lives are made worse. So maybe someone who votes against marriage equality doesn’t think they’re homophobic, but since they’re voting to deny me rights, why should I think they’re not homophobic?

      • September 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm

        Sounds like you’re saying the ONLY reason Black women aren’t voting for marriage equality is homophobia

        There is no reason except homophobia to be against gay marriage. Ergo, whether someone is Black or not has exactly as much to do with it as whether they wear contact lenses or own kittens. Voting against marriage equality is homophobic. Defending voting against marriage equality is homophobia apologia.

        There’s a huge difference between not voting yes because you don’t believe X group should be married and not voting yes because you know that whole equality via marriage rights is bullshit to begin with.

        How good that you, straight person, know what’s best for me better than I do! Let me kneel at your feet, like the lowly gay-ga-gay-gay-gay person I am, and absorb the radiance of your straightness, that knows my life and my needs well enough to place her theories above my experience. Clearly you, straight person, know that marriage is bullshit, and I, not-straight person, should bow to that wisdom. Take away my rights, o glorious straight person! I just want to sit here. And listen. To your straight talk. Of straighty straightfulness.

        Seriously, you’re claiming to speak on behalf of Black women here and you’re employing “well I know better than you” as a tactic? Lolz.

        Like how the white family you married into can use the racist court system to deny those spousal rights even though you rightfully should have them after marriage.

        Perhaps your rights-removal recommendations should start with Loving v. Virginia instead of Prop 8, then, since that seems to not have worked out for you. Also, if you’re speaking to personal history (as I suspect you are from other threads) I’m unimpressed by your use of argumentum ad wellMYspousewasshittynem.

      • September 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm

        I would have to imagine that religion, not race, (although religion is a bit cultural for many black americans, so a bit harder to separate) would explain those who are actively voting against it.

        Honestly, I blame the churches, not black people. I’m aware that’s not mutually exclusive, but I totally agree that the further we go, the less important religion will become: for black people, Indians, Arabs, white people, everyone. (Also, sorry, but do people not REMEMBER that the Mormons were the main force behind prop 8, not black people? Can someone please tell Dan Savage to publish a formal apology about that already? Argh, that pisses me off.)

        Last one: Assuming handfasted means engaged, congrats!

        It can be an engagement thing, but we treated it as a wedding! ^__^ Thank you.

      • DonnaL
        September 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm

        There is no reason except homophobia to be against gay marriage. . . . Voting against marriage equality is homophobic. Defending voting against marriage equality is homophobia apologia. . . .

        How good that you, straight person, know what’s best for me better than I do! Let me kneel at your feet, like the lowly gay-ga-gay-gay-gay person I am, and absorb the radiance of your straightness, that knows my life and my needs well enough to place her theories above my experience

        Thank you. All of these tortured attempts to think of “legitimate,” non-homophobic excuses for opposing and/or voting against same-sex marriage are entirely nonsensical. Because there is no excuse. Anybody who tries to pull a reason out of their tuches as to why it’s OK to take the position that my son shouldn’t be able to get married if he wants to, simply because he’s gay, is full of shit and can go fuck themselves.

        And on that note, I can’t take this thread anymore and really am bowing out (really, truly!). It’s been very disappointing.

      • Anon21
        September 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

        pheeno, I think this discussion would benefit from a little clarity. You’ve used the wording “aren’t voting for marriage equality” a few times here. The trouble is that could mean either a) abstaining or b) voting against.

        I can see plausible, non-homophobic reasons for abstaining as a sort of protest against the centrality of marriage in our society. I absolutely cannot see non-homophobic reasons for voting against marriage equality. Can you suggest some?

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 12:13 am

        How good that you, straight person, know what’s best for me better than I do! Let me kneel at your feet, like the lowly gay-ga-gay-gay-gay person I am, and absorb the radiance of your straightness, that knows my life and my needs well enough to place her theories above my experience.

        You’ve decided that you know their lives SO WELL that the only possible reason they could have is homophobia. Not things like- holding out for something that works better for everyone and doesn’t require marriage to get it. Think it might work in your favor to not have to get married for immigration purposes? How about something that works in favor of people who don’t have any marriage at all, but deserve the same recognition and protections? Like women with serious boyfriends/partners in prison who need to be able to decide things and pay things and keep the car that’s in his name so she can get to work and feed her kids? Or access to their boyfriends better healthcare? Tax relief? Will voting yes change that? Is that just theory and ideology? Or even better, simply mental gymnastics? No. It’s reality. Lived reality for many Black women.

        Holding out for these things doesn’t gain them advantages over your rights. It just adds them to the list of recipients without requiring marriage to obtain those rights.

        This is what the article is talking about. Not “let’s make up some shit to excuse homophobia”.

        If they vote yes, you get benefits. They don’t. And that just might be the reason they vote no.

      • Bagelsan
        September 19, 2012 at 12:29 am

        If they vote yes, you get benefits. They don’t. And that just might be the reason they vote no.

        This argument assumes that most black women are kind of vindictive assholes… :p

      • September 19, 2012 at 12:30 am

        You’ve decided that you know their lives SO WELL that the only possible reason they could have is homophobia.

        No, I think that I know my own fucking axes of oppression well enough to know when someone’s hurting me on them. There is no non-homophobic reason for voting against marriage equality.

        How about something that works in favor of people who don’t have any marriage at all, but deserve the same recognition and protections?

        Ooh! I know a group that don’t have any marriage at all, but deserve the same recognition and protections! It’s not BLACK people (the last I checked they could get married!). It’s not NATIVE people. It’s not WHITE people. I wonder what group it is. Gay people? Nah, can’t be.

        Holding out for these things doesn’t gain them advantages over your rights. It just adds them to the list of recipients without requiring marriage to obtain those rights.

        Did I ever say they couldn’t hold out for these things? There’s about sixteen billion ways to do that WITHOUT trampling over gay rights in the process.

        I mean, there’s no ACTUAL way that gay marriage negatively affects black people, unless…

        If they vote yes, you get benefits. They don’t. And that just might be the reason they vote no.

        Ah, I see. They don’t have to worry about gay marriage because it doesn’t benefit THEM. In fact, they can oppose gay marriage without being homophobic when they don’t have any reason beyond playing the fucking dog in the manger.

        I’ll be sure to remember that the next time Native rights comes up as a topic. After all, what does helping Native Americans (or First Nations) do for this gay person? Nothing! Therefore, I should totally vote to fuck them over six ways from Sunday. I’m just holding out for a plan to provide Native kids with better education that actively benefits non-Native gay people! Wait, what do you mean I’m racist? You just said you weren’t homophobic for doing the same thing!

        Also, even McClain isn’t claiming that black women in general are advocating for the end of marriage. She’s positing some wild theory which a) assumes black women are voting largely against marriage equality (FALSE) because these imaginary black women have non-homophobic reasons (FALSE) which absolutely require them to oppose marriage equality (FAAAAAAAAAAAALSE). So, fuck you, she’s homophobic. And so, by the fucking way, are you. I gave you six or seven comments’ worth of straightsplaining to get to it, but here you are, showing your homophobic ass. I hope you feel ashamed of yourself when you look back at this thread; you’re normally too intelligent to pull this shit.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 12:33 am

        I absolutely cannot see non-homophobic reasons for voting against marriage equality. Can you suggest some?

        Because you want those rights without having to get married. Because you’re already affected by not being married and facing real life issues because those rights hinge on marriage. Because it will take longer to establish those things as simply rights, not marriage rights.

        It’s brought up right in the article

        Could it be that we’re not motivated to support these initiatives because we’re not convinced that marriage should grant access to human rights in the first place?

        If you’re not convinced that marriage should grant access to human rights, then why would you vote for something that explicitly reinforces that belief? Everyone should have the right to marry. Rights should not be granted just because of marriage. The non traditional families that include unmarried people (ALL unmarried people- same sex or not) should have access as well. Why can’t a single mother living with an Aunt have access to the Aunts better healthcare? Why can’t they file taxes that resemble married filing jointly since they’re both working to pay for the same roof, the same food, the same bills etc? Why can’t a woman with the father of her children in prison continue making the car payment for him or sell his extra car for money without having to get power of attorney that she may not be able to get? None of these reasons are imaginary scenarios. They’re not just ideology. And they’re not homophobic.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 12:40 am

        Ah, I see. They don’t have to worry about gay marriage because it doesn’t benefit THEM. In fact, they can oppose gay marriage without being homophobic when they don’t have any reason beyond playing the fucking dog in the manger.

        And you getting yours while they wait is what, different? You get marriage equality and all the benefits of it while they get….what? Nothing. You’ll tackle that after you get yours, right? Ya, that’s a new one.

        After all, what does helping Native Americans (or First Nations) do for this gay person?

        What if I promise it will benefit you at some distant point in time, just let me get my rights first and then we’ll work on yours? No? Huh.

      • SophiaBlue
        September 19, 2012 at 12:40 am

        You’ve decided that you know their lives SO WELL that the only possible reason they could have is homophobia.

        Intent isn’t magic. It doesn’t matter what reason a voter has, if they’re voting to deny me rights then I’m going to call them homophobic.

        And you still haven’t shown how voting for marriage equality slows the progress of giving rights to people regardless of marriage status. Because while we’re waiting around for something better than marriage, some of us are getting hurt in tangible and important ways.

        Seriously, I’m with Donna. I can’t believe we’re really having this debate on this site.

      • LotusBecca
        September 19, 2012 at 12:41 am

        I’m sorry pheeno, I just find this all incredibly far-fetched. It just goes against everything I know about sociology and politics to think that there is some huge contingent of people, Black women or otherwise, who are voting no on same sex marriage proposals solely because they are skeptical of government sanctioned marriage and are waiting for something that will bring forth equality between married and unmarried people. I just don’t buy that. At all.

        Is there any actual evidence for this theory? Like statistical, scientific evidence? Or even a anecdotal evidence–a single, verifiable account of a Black woman voting no on a same sex marriage proposal for these reasons? Because virtually every time I hear anyone talking about why they oppose same sex marriage, they use the same “traditional marriage” talking points. Like how it’s wrong to “redefine” marriage. And how marriage is a sacred religious institution and the bedrock of our society. And how it should be between a man and a woman. And how marriage is all about procreation. Etc. In other words, homophobic arguments like Jamila was putting forward here.

        I’m sure that many of the things you are pointing out could account for why many straight Black women might not spend much time or energy advocating for same sex marriage or why they have different political priorities. But it seems ridiculous to me to say that such rationales are motivating large numbers of “no” votes.

      • SophiaBlue
        September 19, 2012 at 12:50 am

        What if I promise it will benefit you at some distant point in time, just let me get my rights first and then we’ll work on yours? No? Huh.

        Yes, actually, I would support legislation that helped Native rights while doing nothing for me. Because I think “Sure they deserve their rights, but what about meeeeeeee?” is kind of a selfish attitude, you know?

      • LotusBecca
        September 19, 2012 at 12:50 am

        I’ll be sure to remember that the next time Native rights comes up as a topic. After all, what does helping Native Americans (or First Nations) do for this gay person? Nothing! Therefore, I should totally vote to fuck them over six ways from Sunday.

        Mac. . .I agree with you that pheeno’s arguments on this thread are pretty ridiculous. And I get that you are very, very frustrated, and that this bit here is just a rhetorical. Still, I’d appreciate it if you dial it back a little. Going down the road of threatening to oppress a minority group as a retaliatory gesture, even though it’s bitter sarcasm and not actually earnest, makes me quite uncomfortable.

      • September 19, 2012 at 1:00 am

        Because you want those rights without having to get married. Because you’re already affected by not being married and facing real life issues because those rights hinge on marriage.

        Yes, and isn’t having the ability to get married a nice buffer against those issues? If only straight black women could get married, like those privileged, entitled gay people! I swear, the day they legalised gay marriage and black women weren’t allowed to marry anyone anymore, things just started going downhill for them in the country….

        Because it will take longer to establish those things as simply rights, not marriage rights.

        So gay people can’t have any of the rights associated with marriage until a subset of straight people have all of those rights and systemic racism has been completely eliminated, is that what you’re saying? Because none of US are poor or Of Colour or disabled or have any issues to worry about. Oh, no, we’re all swanning about in our rainbow unicorn carriages.

        Everyone should have the right to marry.

        You fucking asshole. Everyone DOES have the right to marry, except gay people. Who you’re explicitly advocating voting to keep out of that. It’s not like Prop 8 was “either gay marriage or the total erasure of racism and it’s consequences!” and all the black people (again, a racist meme) voted for the total erasure of racism which unfortunately meant gay people got screwed. I ask you again, how did preventing gay marriage give you ANY of those rights you want? How would voting for gay marriage DENY you any of those rights you want?

        When ALL MARRIAGE is abolished, I will gladly, voluntarily dissolve my own legal bond. Right now, when families (not just black families) are being torn apart, when partners (not just black partners) are being kept from accessing spousal rights, when families are being stripped from each other and thrown across national boundaries? I want marriage equality, you fuckwit, I want rights that YOU CURRENTLY HAVE, or was I imagining your ex-husband?

        It’s real easy to sit on the side where you have the right to get married and tell people why they shouldn’t want the right to get married. Try walking a mile in my shoes, in the reality of being told that any relationship you ever engage in will be Less Than because you’re not Of The Almighty Straightness. Try living four-fifths of your life in the absolute certainty that you can never have a relationship that isn’t CRIMINAL. Try living that four-fifths knowing that absolutely everyone can get married except you, because you’re LEGALLY and COMPLETELY excluded, whether you want to or not, whether your partner’s been around you for 20 years or found you yesterday.

        Try that, and then fucking talk to me about how I shouldn’t be ALLOWED to have a choice that you get to engage or not engage. You privileged little straightsplaining shit. The reality of the world as it sits is that there are advantages to being married and just because you think those advantages shouldn’t exist, I shouldn’t even have the option to access it? An option, by the motherfucking way, that straight black women – all straight black women except the trans ones (unless of course you think the T in LGBT stands for Tram Conductor) – have.

        I’m done on this thread. This is too much fucking homophobia to bother engaging with further.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 1:10 am

        And you still haven’t shown how voting for marriage equality slows the progress of giving rights to people regardless of marriage status. Because while we’re waiting around for something better than marriage, some of us are getting hurt in tangible and important ways.

        I’m not arguing that people aren’t being hurt in tangible and important ways. And I don’t see holding out for something better as vindictive. But I do see the, historically, that trickle down get other people their rights first and then PoC will eventually benefit takes a long damn time. And any time PoC so much as mention this- then they’re being selfish or vindictive because they’re putting their issues and concerns first. On the flip side of that- unmarried Black women are being hurt in tangible and important ways by having certain rights granted only via marriage.

        And this is what I’m getting from the article. What I think the article is saying. She’s exploring other reasons (that reflect the reality of single, straight Black women) for voting no.

        Unmarried black women are an untapped force for change because we’re more likely to stay that way and so are best positioned to lobby on behalf of the rights of single people and those in non-traditional families.

        This sounds more inclusive to me than vindictive. But when PoC try to include themselves it’s rarely ever read positively.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 1:29 am

        Yes, actually, I would support legislation that helped Native rights while doing nothing for me. Because I think “Sure they deserve their rights, but what about meeeeeeee?” is kind of a selfish attitude, you know?

        Yes, if the person saying it hasn’t been last in line since, forever. Sure.

        But when have Black women ever been first? When have they ever been included without having to demand inclusion?

        I just can’t take a Black woman asking about these things as selfish or vindictive. And that’s what the author is doing, IMO. Asking if unmarried straight Black women simply have a different path that might just include them too, as a result of living in non traditional families. Not out of spite or desire to harm, but out of wanting to be included. And if included, can be a powerful force for change that benefits ALL non traditional families.

        Do I think it’s good or right that it hurts others? No. But I also don’t think it’s only a result of homophobia and no other possible reason. I don’t want the other possibilities to stand in the way of marriage equality, but I don’t see marriage equality leading to an all inclusive granting of rights to all other non traditional families any time soon, either.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 2:00 am

        Yes, and isn’t having the ability to get married a nice buffer against those issues?

        Yes. How does this jive with this though-

        Unmarried black women are an untapped force for change because we’re more likely to stay that way

        That buffer is less likely to happen.

        Who you’re explicitly advocating voting to keep out of that.

        NO I AM NOT.

        1) I don’t fucking vote in US government elections.

        2) I’m not ADVOCATING jack shit. I’m answering questions you believe there’s no other answer to.

        You (and others) said there’s NO REASON UNDER THE SUN TO VOTE NO EXCEPT HOMOPHOBIA and I GAVE YOU SOME NON HOMOPHOBIC REASONS.

        The ability to see how other people rationalize something is not the same as advocating. I can see how some reasons can lead to a NO vote. I can see real, legitimate ways that I don’t think are selfish (because of history, the last person to ever get things isn’t being SELFISH to want to be first once).

        That does not mean I think WOOOOOO WAY TO GO DENYING MARRIAGE EQUALITY.

        Jesus christ. Seeing something from more than 1 goddamn perspective doesn’t mean you advocate one over the other.

        Fuck me with a chainsaw. I can see the shit people deal with in real life and get where they come to conclusions based on their lives. And horribly enough, not think they’re vindictive or selfish for doing what everyone on earth does and coming to conclusions based on their own fucking realities.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 2:07 am

        Everyone DOES have the right to marry, except gay people.

        THEN THAT’S NOT EVERYONE, NOW IS IT?

        NO. EVERYONE DOES NOT HAVE EXCEPTIONS.

        THAT’S WHY ITS CALLED EVERYONE.

      • September 19, 2012 at 8:38 am

        THEN THAT’S NOT EVERYONE, NOW IS IT?

        Gay people can still get straight married.

        You snide little nitpicker.

      • EG
        September 19, 2012 at 8:48 am

        Do I think it’s good or right that it hurts others? No. But I also don’t think it’s only a result of homophobia and no other possible reason. I don’t want the other possibilities to stand in the way of marriage equality, but I don’t see marriage equality leading to an all inclusive granting of rights to all other non traditional families any time soon, either.

        Unless you see marriage inequality as leading to an all-inclusive granting of rights to all other non-traditional families sometime soon, voting against marriage equality still doesn’t make any sense unless you assume that black women are just spiteful.

        I’m seeing a massive denial of the fact that straight, cis, black women have straight, cis privilege.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 10:30 am

        Unless you see marriage inequality as leading to an all-inclusive granting of rights to all other non-traditional families sometime soon, voting against marriage equality still doesn’t make any sense unless you assume that black women are just spiteful.

        It may not make sense, but it’s not always rooted in homophobia. Or spite. Immediately defaulting to homophobic or spiteful (or selfish) causes me concern because the belief that Black people are overwhelmingly homophobic is a common racist belief and the Black woman as a selfish spiteful b-word is an extremely common racist belief.

        I’m seeing a massive denial of the fact that straight, cis, black women have straight, cis privilege.

        I agree they have straight, cis privilege. I disagree that all those who either abstained from voting at all and even some that voted no were all motivated by homophobia. Ignorant of their privilege? Sure. Up to their eyeballs in their own reality and only able to deal with their own immediate concerns? Also possible (and not selfish) Privileged enough to not have to dig deeper and consider harmful effects of voting no? Of course. They’re individual people capable of being blinded by their own privilege and barreling down the wrong road firmly believing they’re doing the right thing just as easily as anyone else.

        But I think we have to be careful to not default into common racist meme’s when talking about what does or does not motivate Black women.

        And now I’m bowing out of the conversation because I’m clearly upsetting people (mac especially).

      • September 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

        Ignorant of their privilege? Sure. Up to their eyeballs in their own reality and only able to deal with their own immediate concerns? Also possible (and not selfish) Privileged enough to not have to dig deeper and consider harmful effects of voting no? Of course. They’re individual people capable of being blinded by their own privilege and barreling down the wrong road firmly believing they’re doing the right thing just as easily as anyone else.

        I have a feeling that I am not alone in defining this as, “homophobia”. It’s an imperfect word with a confusing etymology, but if you think of “homophobia” as being equivalent in function (not in content) to “racism”, “sexism”, “classism”, etc. – i.e., the descriptor for systematic bigotry and oppression on this particular axis – then, yes, what you are describing is representative of systematic, socially-embedded homophobia. Being ignorant of (and in that ignorance defending) my white privilege makes me racist. Being ignorant of (and in that ignorance defending) my wealth privilege makes me classist. Being ignorant of (and in that ignorance defending) straight privilege makes a person homophobic, in the imperfect terminology with which we are currently saddled.

        This is a conversation we’ve had before on Feministe, and my take is the same as EG’s below:

        I also don’t think a subgroup of straight, cis people–any subgroup, no matter how oppressed along other axes they are–gets to decide whether or not its votes against marriage equality are homophobic or not. GLBTQ people get to decide that.

        I do understand the desire to defend against the not uncommon racist backlash by white queers and straight allies against straight POC, and I agree that this is a completely valid concern and that as a white queer person I think this prevalent racism undermines and invalidates our movement, hurting the POC within it and making ourselves even more vulnerable to criticisms, just and unjust, from outside. This is why, without trying to put anyone on a pedestal of perfection or infallibility, I think that queer women of colour, if we can all get around to listening to and supporting them, could be in the best position to lead us.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm

        Being ignorant of (and in that ignorance defending) my white privilege makes me racist.

        I don’t always agree with this. There are many people here for example, who have WP and defend it out of ignorance, but it’s how they chose to defend it, to me, that pushes them on into the Racist category. WP and defense of it contributes to racism, yes. It supports racism and the status quo. If you defend that racism by dismissing a PoC as being too sensitive or playing the race card, yeah. Racist. If you defend it from a position of blindness to your privilege or ignorance- not always racist. Annoying and frustrating, yes. But I don’t always believe the person is a racist.

        Now, I may view it this way because I’m hesitant to call all white people racists- this never fails to give me far more trouble and if spoken in person can be risky- but I don’t automatically categorize WP and ignorance as racist. Racism? Yes. But a person can say something racist and not actually BE a racist.

        An example is here on this thread- a poster used a loaded analogy that I found to be rather racist. But I do not believe that poster is racist, just the analogy.

        But- I do grok what you’re saying. It’s not my call on this subject so I need to STFU.

      • EG
        September 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

        You’re not alone, Jadey. All that is homophobia. Passive, unintentional homophobia, but homophobia nonetheless. You don’t have to be carrying a sign saying “I hate gay people” to be homophobic.

      • September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        An example is here on this thread- a poster used a loaded analogy that I found to be rather racist. But I do not believe that poster is racist, just the analogy.

        Sure, and I apologised for unintentionally using that loaded analogy. I’m still fucking waiting for your apology for defending someone intentionally stripping away my rights.

        Okay, to take a step back and be more civilised about this… suppose Native marriage rights came up to the ballot. The ONLY thing being voted on was whether Native people could be legally married or not. Now, if a gay person decided to vote against Native marriage, claiming that it’s because he thinks Native people can wait for legal marriage until gay people can get married, would you say he has a non-racist reason for wanting to take away Native marriage?

        But- I do grok what you’re saying. It’s not my call on this subject so I need to STFU.

        Yes. Please. Stop trying to tell queer people what is and isn’t homophobic. I took you seriously when you told me what is and isn’t racist against black people (even though, for the record, both of us are POC and neither of us is black). Do me the favour of returning that respect.

  9. DouglasG
    September 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    As Miss Austen wrote in Persuasion: “How quickly come the reasons for approving what we like!” Or, in this case, disapproving what we don’t like, translating into Sticking It to People of Whom We’re Not Terribly Fond and Feeling Morally Righteous About It. As Ms Kitsune said, just… wow.

    I’m very deliberately not saying more.

  10. jaz
    September 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    It seems like you are missing the author’s point. It’s not that most black women are against marriage equality (because that’s not true), she is saying that because Black women are least likely to have “traditional” families (meaning marriage to a man) that we are uniquely positioned to vote for policies that support families that aren’t heterosexual. Because our families often look different, we are MORE likely to support ideas of “nontraditional” families.

    Yes, many mainstream Black media outlets are heterosexually centered but I wouldn’t say that’s any different from non-Black media outlets. It’s not hard to find Black (or people of color) queer focused blogs as it is to find White queer focused blogs. It’s a general problem of most media in general.

  11. Jon
    September 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    One could read it that way, although there is another reading that is at least as valid and more chartitable to the author in which she’s simply noting that a disprivileged group of people might not find the extension of a problematic institution to another disprivileged group to be of paramount importance.

    The author made it fairly clear that she is vehemently opposed to the harms that gay people suffer because of the current state of marriage in the US. I think it’s worth noting that, in a post framed around the scapegoating of black Americans for Prop 8, the commenters here are accusing her of outright racism over a thoughtful post that looked at some of the more intersectional aspects of the discourse surrounding marriage than we usually see.

    • Jon
      September 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      *homophobia, not racism, obvs. Sorry.

    • Jon
      September 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      And, this comment is supposed to be in reply to SophiaBlue above. Again, sorry.

    • September 17, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      I don’t need my causes to be of paramount importance to anyone else, trust me. I do, however, take massive exception to this person claiming that black women don’t care about marriage equality because they have REAL PROBLEMS.

      intersectional aspects of the discourse surrounding marriage than we usually see.

      The intersectional aspect of the discourse surrounding marriage equality would be studying LGBTQ African-Americans. Not showcasing yet another straight person whining that she has REAL PROBLEMS and there are REAL REASONS to not support marriage equality.

      • Jon
        September 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm

        There’s a real difference between “my problems are real problems, as in they are not made up” and “my problems are real, as opposed to yours which are made up.” You’re choosing to read the latter without any evidence that it’s not the former.

      • September 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm

        You’re choosing to read the latter without any evidence that it’s not the former.

        When the article explicitly states that the author is sure there are “non-homophobic” reasons to vote against marriage equality, I’m going to go ahead and assume homophobia, if that’s all right by you.

        …you’re straight, aren’t you?

      • Jon
        September 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

        Why do you not see that it’s problematic to put words in someone’s mouth and then accuse them of being bigoted based on the words *you* inserted into the conversation? Yes, the original author explicitly used the term “non-homophobic” but, as I tried to politely point out in my first comment, she said NOTHING about voting. Period. Either for or against marriage equality. Every time that you claim she said that she would or that people should vote against marriage equality, you are lying, and in so doing, reinforcing the racist trope that black people are to blame for the failure of marriage equality.

      • im
        September 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        The main people I have heard about who attack marriage equality for non-homophobic reasons are the following:

        – Radicals who don’t need to worry about their destroy-all-norms attitude having negative consequences because they can never win

        – ‘Queerer-than-thou’ types who feel threatened by the successes of the much larger at-least-somewhat-binary population

        I think that my frustration with both groups is understandable. Also, both are part and parcel of the Tumblr slimepit.

      • Jon
        September 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

        And, again, if the original post had been an attack on marriage equality, rather than a look at attitudes towards marriage among black women more broadly using marriage equality as a framing device specifically and explicitly because of the scapegoating of the black community for the passage of Prop 8, that might be relevant.

    • SophiaBlue
      September 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      I mean, obviously people are going to find issues that affect them more important in their lives than issues that don’t. But I don’t think it takes that much effort or empathy to recognize that marriage equality is important to many LGBTQ people, and that it shouldn’t be opposed just because of some (justified) suspicions about the institution of marriage.

  12. September 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Oh, and!

    the commenters here are accusing her of outright racism

    Homophobia, dear, not racism. Get the privileges straight.

    • Jon
      September 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks. I caught that myself immediately after I posted it, which is why I immediately corrected it. I just had racism on the mind for some reason.

  13. September 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Well, that comment above was supposed to be a reply to Jon, but… while I’m on here….

    Everybody repeat after me: Human rights cannot be expressed in mercantilist fashion. Human rights are not a zero-sum game. Thank you!

    • Jon
      September 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      If human rights are not a zero sum game, then how does a black woman’s discomfort with the institution of marriage broadly translate to homophobia?

      • September 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        If human rights are a zero sum game, how does gay people getting married affect black people’s rights in any fucking way at all? Are LGBTQ people physically forcing straight black women to divorce so they can get gay married? If not, why say there are race-based reasons not to support marriage equality?

      • Jon
        September 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        Did you even read the original article? You seem to have missed this, but it wasn’t about why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married. If you see *the entire institution of marriage* as oppressive, then I fail to see how viewing the extension of that institution as an imperfect way of addressing the oppressions caused by inequality in access to that institution is a problem.

        Jesus Christ, when did “the state shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all” fall outside the realm of acceptable discourse?

      • im
        September 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

        My view is that no single minority or majority is entitled to make that choice. Although I do have a largely uncommited interest in removing marriage from public law and just making a uniform household law system.

        Also, I think that ending marriage is so much more difficult than ending marriage inequality, that trying to end the institution rather than modify it would massively prolong the oppression of homosexual persons.

      • Jon
        September 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm

        Think about what you’re saying – the black community is not allowed to examine how issues affect them because you see one line of critical examination, activism, and legal challenge as better than another.

        You may well be right that marriage equality is a better and more just approach than trying to end civil marriage altogether. I fact, I’d be more than a little inclined to agree with you. But the commenters in this thread have been insisting and even talking about alternative paths or asking how issues like marriage and oppression affect communities other than than the LGBT folks is intrinsically homophobic. And when a black woman who ISN’T ADVOCATING AGAINST MARRIAGE EQUALITY is repeatedly accused of homophobia for pointing out that strait black women might have a perspective on marriage and equality informed by their own experiences, well, that looks racist as fuck to me.

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm

        If you see *the entire institution of marriage* as oppressive, then I fail to see how viewing the extension of that institution as an imperfect way of addressing the oppressions caused by inequality in access to that institution is a problem.

        Well, and if you see the entire institution of marriage as oppressive, don’t…get…married? Oppose straight marriage? I don’t know, do any of a bazillion things that don’t result solely in a marginalised population being fucked over?

        But the commenters in this thread have been insisting and even talking about alternative paths or asking how issues like marriage and oppression affect communities other than than the LGBT folks is intrinsically homophobic.

        I have never, at any point, said that straight people can’t criticise straight marriage. If she wants to abandon marriage, fight for more rights for unmarried people, whatever, who am I to stop her? I just don’t see how gay marriage negatively affects the rights and lives of black people, or black women.

      • DouglasG
        September 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm

        [Jesus Christ, when did “the state shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all” fall outside the realm of acceptable discourse?]

        I’m not personally concerned one way or the other with the invocation of the H word. I have certainly encountered the line about disengaging the state from recognition of marriage before. When uttered by someone with only a vague idea of How Things Ought Ideally to Be and no plan for Not Hurting People in the Here and Now, I’ve always called that someone a Major Pill. Now, if someone wants to make a big sociological dig into the difference, that’s fine, but it isn’t going to make all that much difference to me.

        To her credit, the author does at least recognize at least some of the pain caused, and does have much more of a genuine agenda to advance than just an abstract ideal. And the post is more of a sympathetic examination than advocacy (though that can often feel quite similar, but that’s another thing). Perhaps this can get to somewhat of a Lesser Pill.

  14. William
    September 17, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    It seems like a pretty clear misreading of the piece has taken hold in the comments, specifically the false idea that Dani advocates against marriage equality in her piece. There are two pretty key critiques: the first is levied against the institution of marriage as not meeting the needs or comporting with the desires of many people, including black women; the second is of the marriage equality movement as perhaps having some blind spots insofar as it seeks to expand who can get married within a flawed construct that privileges binary romantic relationships over those of other shapes and textures.

    The hypothesis Dani floats — that disenchantment with the institution of marriage rather than pure homophobia may lead some straight black women to vote against marriage equality — is surely provocative. But we risk, as some in the comments have, missing the bigger picture by distorting this point into some sort of passive-aggressive justification for voting against marriage equality instead of engaging the critique of the institution itself, the mythologies that surround it, and the cultural power it holds.

    • Miss S
      September 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      I don’t know if I’m still missing the point but as for your first critique-

      I don’t think the problem with marriage and black women is a problem with marriage itself, and in the spaces that I frequent, marriage as an institution isn’t presented as a problem. It’s problems surrounding it. It’s not ‘marriage’ it’s the high incarceration of black men, to which many have responded by advocating for women to marry outside their races and communities. It’s not ‘marriage’ it’s Eurocentric beauty standards which privilege white women, to which many have responded by highlighting the beauty in black women, by providing hair and beauty techniques unique to black women (which mainstream publications don’t provide), by pointing out that men of all races have and will continue to find black women attractive, Eurocentric beauty standards be damned.

      The black women I know IRL would be married if they could. In other words, I don’t see, online or off, black women abandoning, and subsequently denying others the right to, marriage, particularly when I don’t see marriage being identified as the problem by anyone.

    • Anon21
      September 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      I don’t think there’s been any misreading, or if there is one, it’s invited by the text. “The false idea that Dani advocates against marriage equality” is a straw man; people are correctly pointing out that part of piece consists of offering excuses for people who vote against marriage equality. If you don’t think that’s what’s going on, try re-reading the part about “we’re not motivated to support these initiatives” and think about what the most obvious meaning of that phrase is in the context of exit polls. It is possible to read that as saying black women are just declining to organize for marriage equality, but I think the more likely meaning is that black women (in the author’s opinion) are voting against marriage equality, and that that’s somehow defensible.

    • debbie
      September 19, 2012 at 8:16 am

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who interpreted the article this way.

    • EG
      September 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

      that disenchantment with the institution of marriage rather than pure homophobia may lead some straight black women to vote against marriage equality — is surely provocative.

      I think that this is the risk you take with a provocative thesis (particularly one for which you provide no evidence)–people will focus on it and its implications instead of your larger critique. If McClain didn’t want that, well, she needed to write a piece that was not so wide open to misinterpretation.

  15. LotusBecca
    September 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    I do wish more high profile LGBT activists would adopt a more intersectional approach to politics. I think all the energy spent to push for same sex marriage really reflects how much power wealthy, white, cis gay men have in the movement. These folks are really fucked over by not being able to legally marry, but they are less likely to get subjected to job discrimination, street violence, incarceration, or untreated HIV infections than many other subgroups within the LGBTQ community. Therefore, the mainstream LGBT groups, dominated as they are by wealthy, white, cis gay men, focus more resources on the issue of same sex marriage than they do on these other issues.

    I think a different approach that prioritized the issues that most helped the most marginalized LGBTQ people would be better for justice. I also think it would be more effective in the long run because it would allow for stronger political alliances between queer people and those straight people who are oppressed by their race, class, disability, or other factors.

    I’m all for same sex marriage being completely legal everywhere, but I agree with the OP that pursuing this in a single issue sort of way while short shifting other issues is not the most tactically effective approach, alienates many other disadvantaged people from the movement, and doesn’t address many other types of marriage-related discrimination (like the discrimination against single people).

    • LotusBecca
      September 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      those straight people who are oppressed by their race, class, disability, or other factors

      This should read: “those straight people who are oppressed on account of their race, class, disability, or other factors.”

    • September 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Becca, I’m all for pursuing all kinds of equality, not just marriage equality. I just fucking hate when people treat marriage equality as some sort of frippery, not a “real problem”. Because let me tell you just two of the very real problems I would have if I weren’t getting legally married (got handfasted last winter) in a month:
      1. My family are anti-medical-establishment. As in, “you can will away PCOS through the power of positive thinking!” I can’t rely on emergency medical decisions by them.
      2. I’m an immigrant in Canada. Getting married is pretty much the only way I cannot be removed from the country.
      There’s other, way more personal ones I’m not going to get into. But believe me when I say that marriage in my case is a massive, life-saving security net. And having people whinge about how they’re totes not homophobes for taking away that security net, just because they have their own fucking problems, just grates on my last nerve.

      • LotusBecca
        September 17, 2012 at 9:42 pm

        I totally hear you. . .and congratulations on your impending legal marriage! People having the right to be legally married is definitely not some frippery; I agree. And it grates on me, too, when straight people dismiss marriage equality (or LGBT rights more generally) as some sort of tangential “social issue.”

        I guess my main point was just that I feel many mainstream LGBT rights groups adopt an overly conservative stance in order to pander to the privileged straight establishment, and I think this is wrong ethically and also wrong tactically. Yes, it’s horrible that queer people can be kicked out of the country they’re living in and separated from their families because they are not legally married to their spouse (to use your example). But more broadly, all deportation of people is horrible and oppressive, and all Western immigration laws are horrible and oppressive. If more LGBT rights groups adopted this stance, then maybe they could have more effective alliances with immigrant rights groups and ultimately get more accomplished. Also, in general, almost every right that same sex couples are denied that they will gain through legal marriage is a right that all people should be able enjoy without having to be married in the first place. So while I definitely support activism to legalize same sex marriage as a useful incremental step in the right direction, I just wish it was more widely framed as simply the first step by the movement’s most visible activists.

      • September 17, 2012 at 10:30 pm

        Thank you! And yes, I absolutely agree that there’s a large amount of shameless pandering happening with LGBTQ groups… and definitely this view that marriage equality is the last step to full equality, which is as ridiculous as saying getting the vote gave women equality, or Loving v. Virginia gave SBW in the US consequence-free interracial relationships with white men.

        However (and maybe I’m speaking from a bitter ex-third-worlder perspective), I actually think that LGBTQ groups would be quicker to work with immigration rights groups, if said groups weren’t quite so eager to chuck them under the bus. And okay, you know what, I’ll come out and say it: in my experience, first-generation immigrants are usually not only more socially conservative than citizens of the country they’re in, but of the country they come from. At least, that’s definitely true of the FGI Indian community in Canada, who are doing/saying things that would totally raise eyebrows if not fists in India, but which they seem to regard as totes normal, just because it was considered okay in the 80s or 90s or whenever they left India. And FGI are also the ones really active in immigration rights movements. I’d worry a lot about going to an expat Indian lawyer to help with my immigration case just because they’re likely to be more asshole about my not being straight than Random Liberal Canadian or (currently in India) Indian.

      • LotusBecca
        September 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm

        Ay ay ay. That’s so fucking shitty how every group has to reinforce the kyriarchy in their own little way, right? LGBT groups are racist and immigrant rights groups are homophobic straight on back. It’s realizing how extensive this problem is which makes me wonder if people will ever come together and work for human rights for everyone. I remain hopeful, but it’s still astounding to me how many people can’t draw the connection from the shit they go through to the shit their neighbor goes through. Can’t they see we would all be better off united rather than divided?

      • amblingalong
        September 17, 2012 at 11:55 pm

        But more broadly, all deportation of people is horrible and oppressive, and all Western immigration laws are horrible and oppressive. If more LGBT rights groups adopted this stance, then maybe they could have more effective alliances with immigrant rights groups and ultimately get more accomplished.

        I’m sorry, but this simply isn’t true. In terms of political tactics, even pro-immigrant groups can’t take an ‘all deportation is oppressive’ stance if they want to be relevant. For an LGBT rights group to take a radical (and yes, in the current political landscape such a stance is radical) position on an issue like that would simply mean that group no longer gets fundraising, meetings on the hill, supporters at their rallies, etc.

        I greatly admire your idealism, LotusBecca, but your proposed political strategy simply doesn’t reflect the way these battles can be fought and won. The only way anything gets done in American politics is incrementalism. Yeah, it can suck- a lot- but knowing how to pick your battles is absolutely critical when you don’t have overwhelming majorities (and also critical for building those majorities- like the one that now exists in favor of legalized same-sex marriage).

        I don’t work on this particular issue, primarily, but I do work in politics, and I can simply flat-out tell you that what you’re suggesting would result in irrelevance followed by bankruptcy. None of this is a statement against your actual policy goals, just the workability of your method of implementing them.

      • LotusBecca
        September 18, 2012 at 1:13 am

        The only way anything gets done in American politics is incrementalism.

        I don’t really agree, and I certainly don’t agree that nonprofits must take non-radical stances to ensure they can keep raising money and meeting with Congresspeople.

        I worked as a political/nonprofit fundraiser for about 13 months during 2011 and the first part of this year. One of the groups my company often contracted with was the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights group. I’d say that I personally raised about $5,000 for the HRC. Which doesn’t make me some kind of expert, but I’m not completely unfamiliar with how the nonprofit world works.

        I was also involved with Occupy Austin last fall. Which was a really inspiring experience, compared to the extremely disillusioning experience of working in a call center for political groups. And based of what I’ve seen, I definitely think that direct activism can accomplish about ten times more–given the same amount of money–than the more staid nonprofit-industrial complex model. And my historical knowledge confirms this. Time and again, the most revolutionary social changes in history have come from below. The heavy professionalization of activist groups starting in the 1970s went largely hand-in-hand with their decreased effectiveness, for example.

        Which is why I think marginalized people should stand together in solidarity rather than scrambling to be let into the elite while fucking over everyone else. There are so many people in the margins who could be great activists but are too cynical and hopeless to really get involved (which is in large part the OP’s point, in my opinion). And every time political groups take the easy route and angle for the big money by being more moderate, cautious, and exploitative, they miss the opportunity to inspire these people and set the stage for truly groundbreaking change.

      • amblingalong
        September 18, 2012 at 1:27 am

        Which is why I think marginalized people should stand together in solidarity rather than scrambling to be let into the elite while fucking over everyone else.

        No disagreement there. But the position you staked out on immigration is not going to play well on the hill, in the press, or in the minds of the majority of Americans (there’s plenty of polling on that last). The Human Rights Campaign may not be as inspiring to work for as OWS, but is has accomplished a hell of a lot more.’

        Lobbying actually is effective in accomplishing policy change. So is donating to politicians, running ads, and so on. ‘Staid,’ maybe, but it gets things done. OWS? Hasn’t.

      • LotusBecca
        September 18, 2012 at 2:01 am

        Occupy Wall Street is just starting out, unlike the Human Rights Campaign, which has been around for 30 years. So it’s not yet clear what OWS will prove to be the forerunner of. But in my opinion, if things go well, it could someday be seen as analogous to the feminist consciousness raising groups of the 1970s, or the early labor union movement, or the early gay liberation movement right after Stonewall. All of these were largely decentralized, operated without much big money, and were pretty ambivalent about electoral politics–but they were radical and hit a nerve with people. And in the long run, they instigated more dramatic social changes than their moderate contemporaries’ games of inside baseball. Of course, plenty of people’s movements also burn out without accomplishing very much. But my point is that almost all real change has started with the successful radical movements. And the way to make them successful is to participate in them, not to talk about how they aren’t pragmatic enough because of some poll results. That just creates a self-defeating prophecy. Also, any successful progressive lobbying or whatnot is merely the elites’ way of trying to co-opt the forces of radical change when they’ve begun to appear truly powerful and dangerous. But the actual change doesn’t start with the lobbyists and their strategic calculations.

      • amblingalong
        September 18, 2012 at 9:56 am

        Occupy Wall Street is just starting out, unlike the Human Rights Campaign, which has been around for 30 years.

        Is this really true? It seems like OWS has faded almost entirely away, both in organizational capacity and from the public consciousness. I can’t think of the last time I read about them in the news.

        And in the long run, they instigated more dramatic social changes than their moderate contemporaries’ games of inside baseball.

        I think you’re drawing a line where none exists. It’s not that radical social justice movements were co-opted and defanged, it’s that those movements gained enough widespread acceptance that they were able to gain political pull. You can only achieve so much if you aren’t willing to be involved in electoral politics at all. Consciousnesses-raising is great, but unless you can actually change oppressive policies, you really haven’t improved peoples lives much. That’s the yardstick by which I think OWS failed; they added some good words to the lexicon (99% is here to stay) but they didn’t (or have yet to, if they’re still around) actually accomplish a single policy objective.

        And the way to make them successful is to participate in them, not to talk about how they aren’t pragmatic enough because of some poll results.That just creates a self-defeating prophecy.

        If you treat polling as static and people’s minds as immutable, sure. But it can also stop you from losing ground on issues you care about due to alienating voters.

        Also, any successful progressive lobbying or whatnot is merely the elites’ way of trying to co-opt the forces of radical change when they’ve begun to appear truly powerful and dangerous.

        That’s one of those ideas that sounds coherent but makes no sense when you think about it carefully. The HRC, for example, is largely run by gay people. You really think someone in a cigar-smoke filled room somewhere though “Oh no, the radical gay acceptance movement is becoming too powerful and dangerous, lets found a more milquetoast group that will lobby for gay causes in a way which will ultimately serve our elite goals?” I’m pretty sure the story is more like Steve Endean, who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (in turn founded by a guy who was at Stonewall) saw that there weren’t enough politicians who supported gay rights, and started an organization to help them raise money.

        By the way, since this is the second time in a couple days we’ve disagreed about something like this, I want to be clear that as someone closely involved in this field, I’m genuinely interested in the question of how things get done in American politics and how we should be working to improve the system. I really appreciate these conversations, and I’m not just following you around looking to try to attack your ideas.

      • LMM
        September 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm

        And my historical knowledge confirms this. Time and again, the most revolutionary social changes in history have come from below.

        This thread’s largely dead, but I had to comment:

        A few years back, This American Life had a *fascinating* episode (“81 Words”) on the campaign to convince the American Psychiatric Association that homosexuality was not a mental illness. (*) One thing they focused on was the interplay between the outside groups (who mostly did protests) and the closeted gay men who were actually *in* the APA — and the fact that it really took both sides for change to actually occur. At least one gay psychiatrist admitted that most of the latter hadn’t even considered removing it from the DSM, but, at the same time, they were the people who wound up electing more liberal leaders who would consider implementing such changes.

        (*) And I know the over-arching statement for all oppressed people is that, well, we should just eliminate the concept of mental illness — but, you know, I kind of like the fact that I can get out of bed in the morning and that I usually don’t scare the cats because I’m raging.

  16. Miss S
    September 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    To be clear, I wasn’t referring to black women who are anti marriage equality, but the reasons I don’t see the issue brought up as much on the blogs and websites I frequent. I don’t know any black women who are anti marriage equality.

    • September 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      I don’t know any black women who are anti marriage equality.

      Yeah, this, pretty much. I hate to No True Scotsman on this, but I haven’t actually met any straight black women (SBW for convenience) who were anti marriage-equality… some with internalised homophobia, sure, but no more of those than white or brown or even those infamous polka-dotted thought-experiment people.

      Personally, I tend to be of the opinion that SBWs’ blogs don’t have to focus on marriage equality or even LGBTQ issues, on account of they have their own shit to deal with and fuck knows it’s skyscraperiffic… but right around when they’re defending voting against marriage equality while claiming a lack of homophobia is when I fisheye them. Not about race, still, but about orientation stuffs.

      • Miss S
        September 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm

        Agreed. Anyone who argues against marriage equality and thinks it has nothing to do with homophobia is lying. That makes absolutely. no. sense.

        I’ll be honest with you- I’ve witnessed very little to no homophobia from black women. Black men, on the other hand? Different story. That’s why this article seems weird to me- it doesn’t fit with my personal experience at all.

      • LotusBecca
        September 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm

        That’s interesting. I’ve definitely noticed that men in general are more homophobic than women. Anyway my personal experience is hardly definitive, but I have thought a lot about anti-queer bigotry and where its sources lie. And as far as I can tell, most folks in the US who are actively anti-LGBTQ are motivated by Christian fundamentalism. I think this generalization applies to people of all races also.

        I know I had a good friend a couple years ago who was a Black lesbian and was from a fundamentalist Christian background. She still stayed in touch with many of those folks, and many of them were very homophobic. Actually, she had been secretly dating another Black woman for several years who was still heavily involved in the Church. This woman was completely closeted about their relationship due to her religion and ultimately broke it off with my friend over concerns that her life had become “cursed” due to the relationship. I’m certain my friend’s ex didn’t support legal same sex marriage, just as most fundamentalist Christians do not–whether white, Black, or of any other race.

      • September 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

        “Agreed. Anyone who argues against marriage equality and thinks it has nothing to do with homophobia is lying. That makes absolutely. no. sense.”

        I’m one of those people. I don’t think I’m homophobic but I’m not quite 100% sure on where I stand on gay marriage. On one hand, I think of the issue from a legal standpoint–anyone who is an adult, is of sound mind and body, and pays taxes should be able to get the same rights and benefits of citizenship as any other citizen, regardless of race, sex, creed, ethnicity, etc.,

        On the other hand, could the word “marriage” be reserved for a legal union between a man and a woman while the a “civil union” would be granted the same legal standing as a marriage but go by a different name to signify that any two individuals could be civilly joined?

        Another argument is that the word “marriage” should be reserved for only a union of the opposite sexes in recognition of the ability to procreate ( since homosexuals cannot procreate, they cannot get married; and, all heterosexuals do not have to procreate for their union to be a marriage.)

        I don’t believe that everyone who is on the fence or declines to actively support the right of gays to marry is homophobic.

      • DonnaL
        September 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        Jamila, you may not think you’re homophobic, but the comment you just posted is classically homophobic, in every possible way. Proving everyone’s point.


        could the word “marriage” be reserved for a legal union between a man and a woman while the a “civil union” would be granted the same legal standing as a marriage but go by a different name

        Are you kidding? Creating two separate classes of legal partnership, only one of which gets to be called “marriage”? Because straight people want to keep it for themselves? There is no possible source or basis for this proposal — a very common proposal by those who say “I’m not homophobic, but” — other than pure homophobia. Own it.

        And please don’t start with that tired old “procreation” justification. Straight people have never ever ever been required to have the ability to procreate in order to get married.

      • September 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

        @Jamila: I’m a bi woman. I might get married to a man someday. I might get married to a woman. When I get married I plan on doing it only once. Regardless of who i’m marrying I will wear my mother’s wedding Kimono down the aisle. I will have my family there. I will get presents. I know what characteristics I want in my future spouse, regardless of hir gender, and how I’d like us to be equal partners in our relationship. It makes no sense for me or anyone else to have to use two words for the exact same ceremony, the exact same type of relationship.

        Marriage has never meant just one thing throughout all time and space. It’s meant many permutations of people and genders and sexualities in many different places in the globe. Narrowing it now and erasing those other definitions? Not only culturally biased but homophobic. “I don’t think I am, but…” doesn’t protect you here.

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        On the other hand, could the word “marriage” be reserved for a legal union between a man and a woman while the a “civil union” would be granted the same legal standing as a marriage but go by a different name to signify that any two individuals could be civilly joined?

        Sure. I’ll be in favor of that when the state “civil union” is all that’s available to straight couples as well, and marriage is a purely religious matter with no legal standing at all.

        Let me ask you this: why? If this has nothing to do with homophobia, why does the word “marriage” need protecting from gay people and their gay relationships? The word has meant loads of different things to loads of different people in loads of different societies. What’s so special about its contemporary incarnation that it needs to be set in stone?

        Procreation has nothing to do with it. Straight people get married without procreating all the time, and all kinds of people procreate without marrying. While certain societies have allowed non-procreation as a reason divorce, I don’t think that divorce has every been required in such a situation, and certainly nobody is legally required to undergo a fertility test before marrying today.

      • September 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm

        @ Jamila

        I’m going to preface this that as a queer white woman invested in social justice, I admire and respect many women of colour and feel that black women of colour as a group are often a potent source of change who are also subject to much unjust malignment and marginalization, including by queer white people such as myself.

        That said, statements like this:

        Another argument is that the word “marriage” should be reserved for only a union of the opposite sexes in recognition of the ability to procreate ( since homosexuals cannot procreate, they cannot get married; and, all heterosexuals do not have to procreate for their union to be a marriage.

        Are statements of hate to me. Not for grand philosophical reasons, but because reading them makes me feel like I’ve been slapped with a red-hot poker. As a queer person and as a person with a somewhat dysfunctional uterus who would prefer not to be defined by my ability or desire to “procreate”. While I do not define myself by the institution of marriage either, knowing their importance in my current society means that statements like this remind me that someone feels that I am different and less (yes, less – because the depiction of “marriage” being something special which must be reserved for only certain groups implies a hierarchy).

        Whether you recognize it or not, this is an incredibly hurtful thing to say and to promote.

    • Miss S
      September 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Jamila-

      It didn’t occur to me that what you described would be anti-marriage equality. I consider people who are in favor of civil unions to be in favor of marriage equality, because it’s my understanding the only difference is the title.

      • Past my expiration date
        September 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        If the name for a legal relationship for one set of people is “marriage”, while the name for the exact same legal relationship for a different set of people is “civil union”, how is that equal?

        Not to mention that there’s the word “marriage” in “marriage equality”.

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

        Because I thought they were the exact same thing?

      • Bagelsan
        September 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

        They aren’t the exact same thing. You thought wrong.

      • Odin
        September 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm

        Re: civil unions vs (civil) marrige:

        History shows that “separate but equal” generally isn’t (see also: “blacks only” schools and bathrooms).

        Furthermore, recent studies confirm there is a significant difference in practice between civil unions and (civil) marriage — in terms of benefits from employers, in terms of actually having their legal rights respected (such as hospital visitation), in terms of social recognition, etc.

        Lastly… seriously, “ability to procreate”? Um, plenty of heterosexual couples are unable to procreate (seniors, infertile couples, people who opt for permanent sterilization), and some same-sex couple _can_ procreate. (A cis man and a trans man who has not had a hysterectomy, for example.)

        If your religion wants to privilege opposite-sex couples, or privilege procreating couples, or, hell, privilege blue-eyed/green-eyed marriage over other eye-color pairings, be my guest. But don’t use such spurious reasoning to deny a basic civil right (see Loving v. Virginia) to same-sex couples.

      • September 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        “But don’t use such spurious reasoning to deny a basic civil right (see Loving v. Virginia) to same-sex couples.”

        While I’m aware of the fact that the decision in Loving v. Virginia says marriage is a basic civil right, that cannot automatically be construed to mean that gay people have the right to get married. Just like the ‘right to bear arms’ still allows for certain types of guns (see: Clinton’s ban on assault weapons) to be banned.

        “Lastly… seriously, “ability to procreate”? Um, plenty of heterosexual couples are unable to procreate.”

        Whether or not they can or cannot procreate, whether or not they choose to or choose not to procreate is not the issue. The issue is that it takes sperm (from a man) and an egg (from a woman) to procreate. This is not about literal procreation, but symbolism.

        “Furthermore, recent studies confirm there is a significant difference in practice between civil unions and (civil) marriage”

        Then an argument can be made that the law should treat civil unions and civil marriages all the same. All of the rights granted under one should be granted under the others. Right now marriage is controlled primarily by the states, so perhaps the federal government should only recognize civil unions and marriage could just be something that non-governmental institutions do.

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm

        Whether or not they can or cannot procreate, whether or not they choose to or choose not to procreate is not the issue. The issue is that it takes sperm (from a man) and an egg (from a woman) to procreate. This is not about literal procreation, but symbolism.

        And you think such symbolism is more important than the happiness of real people? That is such a morally bankrupt position that I don’t know what to do with anybody espousing it. Why do you think we should base a civil right on a roll of the biological dice?

        Women with hysterectomies can marry men with vasectomies, even though there is neither a sperm nor an ova to be found.

      • Odin
        September 19, 2012 at 8:03 am

        (There’s a limit to how deep nested comments can go, so I’m trying to reply to Jamilla)

        Um, I already addressed the fact that opposite-sex couples don’t necessarily have one set of testes and one set of ovaries between them, and that some same-sex couples do. So “symbolism!!11” still doesn’t justify restricting civil marriage to opposite-sex couples. Go straight to Fail, do not pass Go, do not collect $100.

        Also, seriously, your response to the reality that “separate but equal” doesn’t work for civil marriage is to say “well, um, it ought to, they ought to be the same under the law”? That’s it? When one of the examples I gave was hospitals not respecting the rights that civil unioned couples already had under the law?

        My gods, why the fuck do we have to debate this on Feministe, did I wake up in a parallel universe where feminism is not a social justice movement and just a club for making shitty arguments?

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm

        If they’re the same thing, why can’t they have the same name?

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm

        I was always under the impression that marriage was typically considered a religious ceremony, while a civil union was not. So marriage is religion + legal contract, while a civil union is an identical legal contract without the religion.

      • September 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm

        Miss S, I think you’re being a bit Christian-centric in assuming that all religions refuse gay couples religious wedding ceremonies. (For example, Hindu same-sex weddings have happened. India doesn’t legalise homosexuality except in parts. etc.)

      • DonnaL
        September 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm

        I think you’re being a bit Christian-centric in assuming that all religions refuse gay couples religious wedding ceremonies.

        There are certainly Reform Jewish religious same-sex weddings. I’ve attended more than one, including before New York State legalized same-sex marriage. Maybe Reconstructionist, too?

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

        You’re mistaken. Atheists can and do get married. My parents got married, down at city hall. My mother and stepfather got married at a nice restaurant, with a liberal Justice of the Peace officiating. My father and his wife got married down at city hall. Should I get married, the ceremony would almost certainly be officiated by a Justice of the Peace, as was my cousin’s. If I can get the same Justice who did my mom’s wedding, that would be even better. Marriage is a civil, legally recognized institution.

      • DonnaL
        September 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm

        Thanks for pointing that out; I should have made that clear. My parents were married by a judge at the Bronx County Courthouse; they had no religious ceremony whatsoever. Like hundreds of thousands of other people.

      • LotusBecca
        September 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm

        Hey! It’s just like chickpeas and garbanzo beans! Two names for the same thing make stuff more interesting!

        Straight people can only eat chickpeas, and gay people can only eat garbanzo beans. Actually, I suppose straight people can eat garbanzo beans, too. But gay people definitely can’t eat chickpeas. Definitely not. Yeah.

        Why would anything think this is homophobic?! I mean, these two words refer to the exact same thing! No big deal, right?

        All the same, we must never allow gay people to chickpeas. Never.

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm

        I stand corrected.

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 8:52 pm

        And Donna–definitely Reconstructionist Jews perform same-sex wedding ceremonies! I made sure to ask my uncle when he and my aunt joined a Reconstructionist synagogue many years ago

    • (BFing)Sarah
      September 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Right, it makes complete sense that blogs centered on straight, single black women’s issues wouldn’t focus on that marriage equality. Other issues are real and important and everyone is entitled to have a forum for discussion of the things most important to them. To me, the article did seem to say that there are good reasons to vote against marriage equality, but if that’s not how other people read it, then I guess it is open to interpretation.

      For the record, I know a few black women (probably a handful of the women in my family) who are against marriage equality and its for religious reasons. But I know a handful of people of all backgrounds that are against it. Certainly not more BW or BM against marriage equality than any other racial group that I know.

      • (BFing)Sarah
        September 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm

        This was meant to be a reply to what Miss S said above…I hate threaded comments!

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

        Yeah, I may have been a bit confused by the article.

  17. KristinaR
    September 17, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I really enjoyed this piece, because it made me think. Thank you for expanding this debate and for your audacity to question the dominant ideology. I support marriage equality, but I will now look at it through a deeper lense.

  18. FYouMudFlaps
    September 18, 2012 at 4:13 am

    This was a good piece as I gave it a chance, but almost bailed due to those comments about marriage equality. There is absolutely zero cover to be given to anyone opposing full equality for LGBT people. I am single and do not seek marriage myself and realize it has flaws, but there is no justification for continuing to discriminate against LGBT folks that do seek it, or military service, or ANYTHING. I don’t care what the race of the anti-equality contingency are, or their religion, or some faux-righteous reason… there’s NO room for denying LGBT rights. Quit shoving this narrative down our throats.

  19. Q Grrl
    September 18, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I think it would be more useful to see how black women approach dismantling heteronormativity. Black women may not be getting married, but the black community embraces a heteronormativity that is heavily exclusive of homosexual expression. Not embracing marriage is not the same as creating inclusive communities. Not embracing marriage is not meaningful in a context in which homosexuality is excluded from both personal and community expression.

    I would love it if the queer community did not have to make marriage equality it’s masthead. I’m not fond of what marriage represents in a patriarchy, and don’t want to subject myself or my partner to any of those expectations. However, I also can’t choose how the greater public is going to receive our approaches to full civil rights. We’ve spent decades trying different approaches, with only feigned interest and support from the straight community. Marriage is contentious enough, for various reasons, that people can finally relate to queer civil rights issues.

    If some Black women want to redefine marriage (and in so doing ignore the deeper background of marriage equality), then they should go for it. I would think that black women who want to change marriage as an institution wouldn’t need the queer civil rights movement to spark their own agency — and I don’t believe they actually do or have done this. Which is why I don’t understand the OP. Black women have been working for decades to re-define marriage, their roles in their communities, and their roles as both mothers and non-mothers. All of these are and have been significant — which makes it all the more irritating that suddenly two distinct, decades-old struggles get conflated into “black women aren’t bigoted because they don’t support queer rights, they’re just busy doing their own thing.” Both parties have been “doing their own thing” politically for a long time. Anyone’s reluctance to support either camp should be looked upon with some healthy skepticism.

    • im
      September 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Does gay mairrage in a patriarchy represetn the same stuff as straight marriage does?

      • Bagelsan
        September 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

        Hardly! I think that’s why it’s so heavily opposed by people who love them some patriarchy.

      • Cagey
        September 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm

        It can represent the same stuff. Theoretically it could work to dismantle patriarchal norms and ideas, but that effort would in most cases have to be conscious on the part of those getting married. What I see often is a lot of gay people, particularly those pushing for same-sex marriage, putting forth a very heteronormative image or one mimicking it to a T, even down to the designated man/woman roles. And I see heteronormativity as intricately tied to patriarchy, so it might as well mean the same thing.

  20. September 18, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Does anyone have any evidence that, controlling for religious affiliation, African-American women voters are worse for marriage equality than white women voters? I don’t see anything to be gained by attributing a tendency a community doesn’t actually have, and then debating why they have it.

    • Bagelsan
      September 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

      I don’t believe they are, in fact, worse on queer equality — but more to my point, I don’t think that religiosity should be controlled for. Belonging to a homophobic religion isn’t a pass on being homophobic, it’s just part of being homophobic. If a given black woman is a religious homophobe that’s just as bad as if she’s an atheist homophobe.

      • September 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

        I think you misunderstand what I mean when I say “controlled for.” I don’t mean “get a pass on.” Unfuck bigots. I mean that, if the driver of whether people are bigots is whether they listen to bigot preachers and not race, why are we talking about race?

    • BlackLizLemon
      September 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      WORD

    • Miss S
      September 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      I was wondering the same thing. I didn’t realize that black women opposing marriage equality was even a thing. I also assume that religion, not race, would explain that.

      Seems to me that conservative religious black women would oppose marriage equality at the same rate of other conservative religious groups.

      • (BFing)Sarah
        September 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm

        Yup. Religion is the common denominator with the people I know, definitely not race. And even religion is starting to erode as a reason to people.

      • Miss S
        September 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm

        I agree- I see religion playing less of a role in the future, not more.

    • September 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      From a statistical analysis standpoint, controlling for a factor in which the subsamples legitimately differ is actually introducing a statistical artefact with misleading results.

      Which is to say, if it is religiosity which leads (among other factors) individuals to be more against gay marriage and one group factually differs in the degree of their religiosity, then controlling for it would only obscure the actual statistical prevalence of it as a legitimate mediator of the variable of interest and not reveal a meaningful result.

      I can’t answer your original question because I do not know. I just wanted to clarify this point of analysis because even experienced analysts make this logical error, to the extent that I have read some strongly-worded statistical articles chastising us for it.

  21. Odin
    September 18, 2012 at 8:40 am

    If this had been an article about why straight cis black women aren’t heading the fight for marriage equality, then it would be a good article about why LGBT marriage rights take a backseat to issues that are more immediate for straight cis black women. And it’s totally fine for one marginalized group to focus their energy on their own issues.

    But instead it really seems to be arguing that one marginalized group should get a pass if they oppose another marginalized group having access to a basic civil right. Which is is not okay. (It’s not okay for white LGBT people to oppose social justice for cis straight black people, either). And worse, it’s furthering the meme that Black People Oppose Marriage Equality As A Whole, which the exit poll data from California in 2008 actually disproves. It’s true, that meme is highly problematic and rooted in racism, but the appropriate response is to debunk it, not accept it as fact and then start arguing that it’s totes okay for straight cis black women to oppose access to basic civil rights for other people.

  22. EG
    September 18, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I’ve been thinking about it, and this post reads to me like an extended version of what the left used to say to women: “After the revolution, when everything is perfect, you’ll get your rights; when we’ve made things so good that marriage doesn’t matter, you won’t need marriage, and you’ll have your rights.” Well, that’s great, but in the meantime, I’d still like my rights, thank you very much, and I can’t see any reason for opposing it that doesn’t come down to bigotry.

    • im
      September 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Which left? Moderate? Mainstream? Radical?

      That’s actually kind of a big thing. One of the CREEEPYest things is revolutionaries who don’t care about the present except for how bad it is and don’t seem to even be all that great at imagining the future except for it not having the things that the present has.

      There are a lot of people who do this: Marxists of various stripes, Twisty Faster, futurists who are a bit too faithfully apocalpytic about the Singularity, etc.

      I can see one reason: strict prioritization. However, due to how easy it is to be prejudiced toward your own issue, strict prioritization is really risky and probably should not be done.

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

        There is no mainstream left in the US; what you’re thinking of is “liberalism.” When I say left, I mean the actual left, of which there has been many examples across US history.

  23. BlackLizLemon
    September 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I’ve never been inclined to write a comment on this board, but my entire reaction to this article is this:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v209/lena4prez/gifs/6a00d83451b8c369e201348750182d970c-pi.gif

    Really? Black women (self included) are THAT selfish that we don’t anyone else to get married? Word???? So instead of painting a broad brush that the Black community is homophobic, we’re hating harpies, too? Chile…

    Anecdotal evidence alert: Of all my single black lady friends, NONE of us are anti-gay marriage or think it’s “unimportant.” For some women it might be a case of “I’m too busy raising my kids/working/just being awesome to care about gay marriage,” but that doesn’t automatically equal actively voting against something.

    Geez Louise, we was this cross-posted?

    • BlackLizLemon
      September 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Sorry, I shouldn’t have included the “too awesome to care” part. That was hella rude.

      What I’m saying is I think MANY, if not the MAJORITY, of straight Black women DO care about and want gay marriage to be legal, and would vote in favor of it if the case ever presented itself to them. But when you’re trying to tend to kids and/or work 50-11 jobs, actively fighting for gay marriage (ie, canvassing, lobbying elected officials, etc) is lower on the priority list versus actively fighting for decent childcare and higher wages. Plus, this entire convo leaves LGBTQ black women out of the equation. Ugh.

      • DouglasG
        September 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

        Ms Lemon – I thought it sort of fit the tone of the picture you linked, and I entirely understand. We must all prioritize. Caring is great when people can. When people have Other Things to Do, that’s okay.

        I’ll thank you friends in advance for an equality-favouring vote should they ever have the opportunity, and hope that you will all be spared the indignity of such a vote on some similar issue, however willingly I’d reciprocate.

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

        BlackLizLemon,

        What you’re saying totally jives with my experience! I haven’t actually met any straight black women who actively oppose marriage equality, personally. Even the SBW arguing against me on this thread aren’t OPPOSED to marriage equality, just undecided and maybe with some internalised homophobia (but seriously, which race doesn’t have that? The horror stories I could tell you about Indians…). And I found it weird – I mean, borderline offensive weird – that McClain insisted that many black women have “real reasons” to oppose marriage equality, simply because I hadn’t remotely expected such a viewpoint. AFAIK most black women (I’m given to understand that black men are a different story, but tbh I don’t know many men well, because of trust issues, so I wouldn’t know) on the social justice scene are pretty fierce about marriage equality, certainly more than Ye Randome Indian Blogger. I’m thinking of Womanist Musings, ABW, Racialicious… yeahhh, no, I see more support, statistically, from WOC (even ones that focus on different issues most of the time!) than from the general population. This article’s left me pretty fucking baffled.

  24. T
    September 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    As a single, straight black woman, I think this post hits the nail on the head. Historically, marriage has always been an institution used to control wealth, reproduction and white straight male dominance. A better way toward ensure our rights to healthcare, fair immigration and social welfare policies and practices is by directly forcing pressure on those issues. I voted against prop 8 in CA because it was wrong. But I don’t think “marriage equity” is the way to a more civil society. It’s an assimilation tool. And don’t be surprised with when gay men are able to better use it to their advantage than POC LGBT folk. That’s the way these things work. When I lived in Milwaukee back when they were one of the first cities to pass local laws that allowed city workers to extend their benefits to their parents, siblings or same sex partners, I supported that because the basic principle of it wasn’t based on marriage, but caring for a love one, no matter the relation. It would have included people like me. If marriage equity does become the law, let’s see who will actually be able to use it to their benefit. History proves that people of color, especially Black women are still last in line. Prove it? Look at how they are treated in the military, wages, education…and I could go on.

    • pheenobarbidoll
      September 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      History proves that people of color, especially Black women are still last in line. Prove it? Look at how they are treated in the military, wages, education…and I could go on.

      Yup.

    • September 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      I voted against prop 8 in CA because it was wrong. But I don’t think “marriage equity” is the way to a more civil society. It’s an assimilation tool.

      I absolutely agree. I think that marriage equality as it’s presented is a bullshit scheme. I would love to have gotten married simply because it was a choice. I would love for my handfasting to have been the only formalisation of my relationship, and to skip the legal wedding I’m planning next month. Unfortunately, that would fuck me over for immigration, fuck me over for emergency medical care (my otherwise next-of-kin are somewhat batshit about medicine), leave my stepchild with significantly less protection, etc, etc, motherfucking etc. I hate that this is the case, but I’m still grateful that I have this lifeline. What the fuck else do I have to go back to? A country where I could get jailed, raped, committed for being not-straight? Certainly, I would find housing difficult, find myself out of a job in any field related to education.

      So yeah. I can agree with your assessment that gay marriage shouldn’t be the way to get privileges. I really can. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the best shot most of us POC LGBTQ people have right now, and to have someone casually dismiss our real lives and recommend we ignore our real concerns because Idealism Is Important reeks of homophobia to me. And just because she’s black doesn’t mean she gets a pass, any more than Indians or whites or Chinese or what have you get a pass.

      (FTR since I used Indians a lot in this comment I should specify I am from India and am referring to my own ethnic group, not the First Nations.)

      • Tracey
        September 19, 2012 at 2:48 am

        This so very much. I am a strong supporter of the Beyond Marriage movement and disdain the focus on upholding marriage as a paradigm of love and as a designated special relationship.

        However, that does not excuse straight people voting against same-sex marriage. Voting against same-sex marriage does not advance the fight for marriage abolishment, immigration reform, civil partnerships open to all people regardless number of people in the relationship and their relationship, etc. The only thing voting against same-sex marriage does is deny same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. There is no excuse for a straight person to deny that right to same-sex couples other than homophobia.

  25. September 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    @DonnaL

    You’re right: I don’t think I’m homophobic, your assertions to the contrary notwithstanding.

    “Are you kidding? Creating two separate classes of legal partnership, only one of which gets to be called “marriage”?”

    No, I’m not kidding.

    It’s possible that people can have all kinds of ideas about the very word “marriage” and thus they don’t want to change what they believe to be the long-standing (at least from their cultural/social/religious/historical standpoint) meaning of the word. Doesn’t mean they hate gay people, it may just mean they have what they consider to be a profound respect for their traditions.

    Also, if gay people are given the same legal rights and responsibilities under civil unions as they would be under the word “marriage,” then what does difference it make? Unless, of course, this has more to do with wanting to redefine–as some people see it–the word marriage, than it has to do with actually wanting the same legal standing as being married.

    “And please don’t start with that tired old “procreation” justification. Straight people have never ever ever been required to have the ability to procreate in order to get married.”

    While you may think this is a “tired” argument, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t non-religious people who believe it to be true and to be a good reason to not allow two people of the same sex to marry.

    For example, actor Jon Hamm (of Mad Men) said this about the possibility of marriage to his longtime partner: “To me, people [should] get married when they’re ready to have kids, which I’m not ruling out.”

    PLEASE NOTE: I am not saying that Jon Hamm doesn’t believe gay people should be allowed to get married. I’m only making the point that procreation and marriage are linked in the mind of many sane, non-religious, non-homophobic people.

    • September 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      It’s possible that people can have all kinds of ideas about the very word “marriage” and thus they don’t want to change what they believe to be the long-standing (at least from their cultural/social/religious/historical standpoint) meaning of the word. Doesn’t mean they hate gay people, it may just mean they have what they consider to be a profound respect for their traditions.

      Many cultural/social/religious/historical traditions dictate that a marriage should be done in church. Does that mean someone with a ‘profound respect for for their traditions’ is allowed to decide my marriage is not valid because it didn’t happen in a church?

      If, as you say, “It’s possible that people can have all kinds of ideas about the very word ‘marriage'” then the very idea is ludicrous.

      Also, if gay people are given the same legal rights and responsibilities under civil unions as they would be under the word “marriage,” then what does difference it make? Unless, of course, this has more to do with wanting to redefine–as some people see it–the word marriage, than it has to do with actually wanting the same legal standing as being married.

      What, so I suppose since Christian marriages are the ‘traditional’ type of marriage a majority of people in this country have, we should set aside separate categories for all non-Christian marriages? Jew-unions? Hindu-partners?

      The point about marriage equality, is that until two people can call their union whatever the fuck they want to they don’t have equal rights. What is so fucking hard to understand about that?

    • DonnaL
      September 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Frankly, when you say homophobic things, it isn’t up to you to decide whether it constitutes homophobia.


      what does difference it make?

      Because if you reserve the word “marriage” for straight marriage, and require same-sex partners to call themselves something else, you’re creating a subordinate class by definition. “Separate but equal” rarely works in this context or any other. Even assuming that the legal rights are the same, it’s still second-class status by definition, so long as people of the same sex are prohibited from calling marriage marriage. “Profound respect for traditions” hardly precludes homophobia when those traditions are profoundly homophobic. You have not provided, and cannot provide, a single rational justification for such separate categorization beyond animus for same-sex couples, and a belief that the institution of marriage is somehow contaminated by their inclusion. It isn’t even subject to debate.

      Same thing with believing that the inability to procreate biologically as a couple is a “good reason” for prohibiting same-sex marriage. So what if people truly believe it? That doesn’t make it any less absurd or bigoted. You have not responded, and cannot respond, to the obvious fact that straight marriage does not require an ability to procreate.

      I don’t care what you believe; you have confirmed that you are a homophobe, pure and simple. Instead of coming here with ludicrous and truly disgusting arguments allegedly justifying prohibiting my son from getting married to a person he loves, perhaps you should go educate yourself.

      And guess what? I’m even being reasonably polite about it!

      • DonnaL
        September 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

        Since when is same-sex marriage actually subject to this kind of debate here, not in the sense of debating the institution of marriage itself, but in the sense of permitting people to argue that that there’s a justification for prohibiting same-sex marriage while still allowing straight people to get married? What’s next, a debate on whether women should be allowed to vote or own property?

        I give up.

      • (BFing)Sarah
        September 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm

        Don’t give up, Donna! Your comment allowed me to start breathing regular air instead of fire, so there’s that!

      • Lyn
        September 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm

        Agreed. It’s just exhausting.

    • Bagelsan
      September 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Yeah, Jamila, you’re saying things that are homophobic as hell right now.

      It’s possible that people can have all kinds of ideas about the very word “marriage” and thus they don’t want to change what they believe to be the long-standing (at least from their cultural/social/religious/historical standpoint) meaning of the word. Doesn’t mean they hate gay people, it may just mean they have what they consider to be a profound respect for their traditions.

      Ooh, does that mean that we’re not gonna be mixing the races in marriages anymore? Oh, and old people can’t get married (infertile wrinkly fucks!) Not to mention that fathers will sell their prepubescent daughters to other men to cement familial bonds between tribes, only legitimized once she is brutally raped and a bit of blood is shown, natch… Your traditional marriages sound SO NICE. I would totally hold on to that tradition!

      Yeah, it’s “possible that people can have all kinds of ideas”; yours are just really stupid ones.

    • Drahill
      September 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      Jamila, I feel the need to point out that Hamm’s statement is not a pre-creative one. to “have children” does not, by definition, mean to make babies through PIV sex. Gay couples do “have kids” – they do so through a variety of means. As do straight people. The process of having kids is not inherently linked to biological procreation. You have read into his statement something that wasn’t there.

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        ” You have read into his statement something that wasn’t there.”

        No I didn’t. That is why I said “PLEASE NOTE….” in that response and why I talk further about the procreation issue elsewhere in the thread.

      • Drahill
        September 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm

        Um, even with the PLEASE NOTE, you read Hamm’s statement wrong. The phrase “having kids” is only tied to traditional procreation if you define “having kids” as having heterosexual penis-in-vagina sex as the only way to “have kids.” But LBGT couples can have kids. Infertile straight couples have kids – and they all do without the benefit of PIV sex. The idea of coupling heterosexual marriage to procreation exclusively is an outdated model for even a lot of straight couples. Those who couple marriage to procreation, such as you are doing, have an outdated model of the childbearing process.

      • September 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

        I HAVE A KID, you asshole. My wife had a child before she met me. We’re raising her together. Bi people exist.

        Also just… I’m fucking tired. I can’t believe I’m having to explain to so-called allies that marriage equality is important, and why. And I really can’t believe that this shit is being allowed to stand in a supposedly tolerant space.

      • September 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm

        Um, even with the PLEASE NOTE, you read Hamm’s statement wrong. The phrase “having kids” is only tied to traditional procreation if you define “having kids” as having heterosexual penis-in-vagina sex as the only way to “have kids.”

        Wait, are you telling me Jon Hamm can’t give birth?

      • September 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm

        Wait, are you telling me Jon Hamm can’t give birth?

        I R DISAPPOINT

      • Bagelsan
        September 19, 2012 at 12:35 am

        Then what is he good for??

    • EG
      September 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      Also, if gay people are given the same legal rights and responsibilities under civil unions as they would be under the word “marriage,” then what does difference it make?

      If it makes so little difference, why can’t we use the word “marriage”? After all, you say it hardly matters.

      As to your traditions, beliefs, etc., I have no respect at all for traditions or beliefs that disempower marginalized groups of people. I certainly don’t think they should be legally binding.

    • EG
      September 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      It’s possible that people can have all kinds of ideas about the very word “marriage” and thus they don’t want to change what they believe to be the long-standing (at least from their cultural/social/religious/historical standpoint) meaning of the word.

      Did it every occur to you that LGBTQ people also have all kinds of important cultural/social/religious/historical ideas and feelings about the very word “marriage,” and that the word is similarly important to them? And that their feelings matter just as much as those of bigots?

      By the way, which is it? Is the word “marriage” really really really important to a bunch of bigoted straight folks, and we must respect that, or does the word “marriage” not make any difference as long as the legal benefits are the same? Important or not? You can’t have it both ways.

    • September 19, 2012 at 1:33 am

      Here’s the deal with holding things precious: You only hand them out to people you think are worthy of them. Some things are in limited supply–only Grandma’s kids inherit Grandma’s jewelry. In the case of something like marriage, it’s not like you’ll run out of if you pass it around too much. It’s just something that you hold sacred, something your religion tells you is important, and something you’re emotionally attached to exactly as it is.

      Denying that to gay people–telling them that they can have something like what you have, but not exactly what you have–is telling them that they aren’t good enough to share it with you. They aren’t worthy of what you have. You have something that’s very special, but it’s only for certain types of people, and they don’t qualify. If they have what you have, it becomes less special to you. And yes, that is homophobic.

      And for the record, there are a lot of people out there who have their own feelings about the word “marriage” and the institution of marriage and who hold it sacred and special, and as such think it’s something that should be shared with all comers. It isn’t some new, rebellious, heretical approach to marriage–it’s a longstanding tradition for a lot of faiths that just doesn’t match up with your own tradition. And we live in a country that (theoretically) (constitutionally) is supposed to accept that. No matter how territorial you may feel about the concept of marriage, that doesn’t mean it actually belongs to you. You don’t get to be the one religion in charge of doling out marriages.

      • September 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        Here’s the deal with holding things precious: You only hand them out to people you think are worthy of them. Some things are in limited supply–only Grandma’s kids inherit Grandma’s jewelry. In the case of something like marriage, it’s not like you’ll run out of if you pass it around too much. It’s just something that you hold sacred, something your religion tells you is important, and something you’re emotionally attached to exactly as it is.

        Awesome analogy! Five stars.

  26. Cagey
    September 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I see marriage equality as an example a professor once gave me: there are people inside a house living lavishly and there are people outside a house who are threatening to tear it down. The people inside decide to let those outside in, but only if they agree to also keep some people outside. I think this describes how a lot of “progress” has been made in movements and particularly is relevant here.

    The thing about this model is that it requires there to always be people on the outside. The house isn’t valuable if everyone can come in, so incrementalism doesn’t work, because there will always be someone knocking on the door, asking to be let in. Someone *has* to be left outside for that house to have any value. The answer is to tear the house down.

    Marriage equality as it has been pitched by mainstream gay rights groups has been about forwarding an image of harmless white, cis, middle-class, monogamous couples just wanting to do what other white, cis, middle-class monogamous couples do. They aren’t threatening, they just want to be like you. Let them into your house. They won’t bring anyone else with them, they promise. And they mean it.

    Unfortunately, marriage comes with a number of privileges not accessible to people whose relationships don’t fit this model, who won’t be let in. Moreover, that this focus has come at the neglect of issues like protection from violence, employment discrimination, housing rights, etc. (issues which are rampant and disproportionately affect trans* people and people of color within the LGBTQ community) has made a lot of us just not give a fuck about whether Joe and John can get legally married anymore.

    So I am all for re-thinking why these rights and privileges should be tied to this marriage model rather than being offered in some other, more inclusive way.

    • September 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      “The thing about this model is that it requires there to always be people on the outside. The house isn’t valuable if everyone can come in, so incrementalism doesn’t work, because there will always be someone knocking on the door, asking to be let in. Someone *has* to be left outside for that house to have any value. The answer is to tear the house down.

      I think this is another reason why some people oppose gay marriage: they know that there are those who only want to come into the house to tear it apart–so why let those people in?

      I’ve often seen comments/posts where someone is arguing along the lines of “the only way to destroy marriage as a tool of the patriarchy/the only way to destroy the institution, etc., is to let everyone get married. Thus, marriage will lose it’s meaning once we let everyone do it.”

      The result is that those who still have a profound and deep respect for the institution may seek to protect it by excluding people who would only seek to see it torn asunder.

      • Past my expiration date
        September 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm

        I think this is another reason why some people oppose gay marriage: they know that there are those who only want to come into the house to tear it apart–so why let those people in?

        Yes, obviously the reason two people would want to get married is to destroy the institution of marriage.

        (And by “obviously”, I mean “I find this statement absurd”.)

      • September 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm

        “(And by “obviously”, I mean “I find this statement absurd”.)”

        Probably because you didn’t read what I was replying to.

        Also, further up thread, this same argument is suggested (i.e., let gays get married to destroy the patriarchy).

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm

        I did not suggest that argument (I assume it must be my post to which you are referring). What I pointed out was that if the reasoning cited in the OP was the case–that black women opposed marriage equality because they did not think basic human needs and rights should be apportioned out based on one’s marital status–then it made no sense for them to be opposed to marriage equality, because only by opening it up completely would marriage be rendered meaningless.

        Tell me, what do you do to combat straight people who get married while wishing to destroy the institution?

      • Lolagirl
        September 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

        This:

        I think this is another reason why some people oppose gay marriage: they know that there are those who only want to come into the house to tear it apart–so why let those people in?

        has got to be one of the dumbest reasons I’ve ever heard come from straight people for why there should be no gay marriage. Because the only people I’ve known to burn marriage to the ground? They have all been het people. Now this is the part where fundies especially get all high horsey about loosening social mores and the erosion of traditional gender norms as the reasons for why we have teh horrible divorce these days, and all of that just comes down to sexism and prejudice.

        The straightsplaining going on here in this discussion is seriously giving me a headache, and I am straight. There really is no need to explain to anyone here why Straighty McPrejudicedPants opposes gay marriage. Pretty much everyone gets it, and sees it for the offensive bs that it truly is.

    • Cagey
      September 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      I wanted to add that because of those things I mentioned, I see this less as someone saying another group shouldn’t have rights, and more as someone saying that the “right” being pursued is a kind of poisonous apple that has been detrimental to the group they are apart of and they really no longer want any part of it.

    • DonnaL
      September 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      No, actually, it doesn’t require some people to be left on the outside, and that isn’t its only value, any more than the proposition is true of universal suffrage. Your professor’s analogy is horseshit. Marriage would provide the same benefits no matter how many combinations of people were extended the same benefits — except for that hopefully small percentage of people who actually do believe that their benefits mean something only if not everyone has them. But I guess you’d argue that voting rights mean something only as long as children don’t have them?

      Also, I despise the “queerer than thou” rhetoric that the only people who care about or benefit from same-sex marriage are those dreaded Rich White Gay Men. Again: horseshit. And I belong to a group that’s suffered as much as any from the near-exclusive concentration on legalizing same-sex marriage. However, it simply doesn’t follow that “too many resources are devoted to same-sex marriage and not enough to passing a trans-inclusive ENDA” = “same-sex marriage is poisonous and doesn’t matter and let’s tear down the house.”

      • DonnaL
        September 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

        they really no longer want any part of it.

        That’s fine and dandy. I don’t notice anyone being forced to get married, or being forced to become same-sex marriage advocates, or being prevented from working to continue to expand the benefits of marriage to others, whether they be friends, siblings, parents-children, or any other voluntary association. But actively opposing same-sex marriage? Taking the “don’t worry, just wait, you’ll get your rights when the revolution comes, as long as you join our cause, but meanwhile only straight people will have the benefits of marriage” approach that EG rightfully decried? Reprehensible.

      • Cagey
        September 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm

        I don’t believe anything in this piece actually said to oppose same-sex marriage and if you think I buy into “wait your turn” trickle-down progressivism at all(which is what the mainstream gay rights movement *is* practicing), then you have really misread me.

  27. yes
    September 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    @Jamila

    I think people tend to resent being offered a separate-but-equal alternative in lieu what the mainstream gets.

    • September 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      I’m agree.

      I’m just saying that this is how some people actually feel and rationalize their beliefs.

      • Bagelsan
        September 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

        Ah, you’re not a homophobe, you just sound exactly like a homophobe! I get it!

  28. September 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    @miga

    “Marriage has never meant just one thing throughout all time and space. It’s meant many permutations of people and genders and sexualities in many different places in the globe. Narrowing it now and erasing those other definitions? Not only culturally biased but homophobic. “I don’t think I am, but…” doesn’t protect you here.”

    Words have different meanings depending upon the time, place, and cultural situation. We don’t live under the laws of Rome, thus we may or may not use the same definitions of words–like “marriage”–as were used in Rome. I’m well aware of the fact that what marriage means and who is able to get marriage has varied throughout history and from culture to culture. This fact doesn’t mean that in THIS time, place, and culture the people don’t get to decide on their own definitions. While “they use to do it this-or-that way” may convince some people, it won’t be a satisfactory explanation for everyone.

    • September 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      But one of the reasons being used to exclude people from marriage is “marriage has only meant this, so it can only mean this.” You hear this all the time in political rhetoric. It’s just like the “you don’t see homosexuality in nature, therefore homosexuality is unnatural” argument. You don’t really hear that one anymore because it’s been debunked many many times over.

      Secondly, does this mean that you are comfortable with a heterosexual couple where the man happens to have a vagina, and/or the woman happens to have a penis? Or if they used to?

      • September 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm

        “But one of the reasons being used to exclude people from marriage is “marriage has only meant this, so it can only mean this.”… It’s just like the “you don’t see homosexuality in nature, therefore homosexuality is unnatural” argument. You don’t really hear that one anymore because it’s been debunked many many times over.”

        There are two completely different topics. As you already said, you do see homosexuality in nature and you do see various types of sexuality expressed by humans. There have always been gay people–they haven’t always been allowed by the state (whatever state they happen to be living under) to get married or have their unions recognized.

        “Secondly, does this mean that you are comfortable with a heterosexual couple where the man happens to have a vagina, and/or the woman happens to have a penis? Or if they used to?”

        I think that consensual adults have a right to privacy and that consenting adults can have any sort of relationship with each other that they want to have. It doesn’t matter what anyone’s genitals look like.

      • Bagelsan
        September 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

        If genitals don’t matter, why do you oppose marriage between people of more-similar genitals, and not oppose it between people of less-similar genitals?

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm

        No, they aren’t separate topics. When you say that “marriage has been traditionally defined as man and woman, therefore it should only be defined as such” you are saying an untruth. This untruth about tradition is being used to bolster your argument, just as the untruth about homosexuality not appearing in nature was used to bolster that same argument. One lie got replaced by another. That was my point.

        I wasn’t clear about that last bit, I meant within the confines of marriage. Are you ok with marriage being used for a union in which the man happens to have a vagina, and/or the woman happens to have a penis? Or used to?

    • SophiaBlue
      September 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      This fact doesn’t mean that in THIS time, place, and culture the people don’t get to decide on their own definitions.

      Sure. Some people define marriage as being between a man and a woman, and some people define it as being between consenting adults of any gender. Given that the former definition denies people rights and the latter does not, why should the government define marriage as the former?

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        Also, this.

      • September 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm

        “Given that the former definition denies people rights and the latter does not, why should the government define marriage as the former?”

        Basically, the government is supposed to represent the will of the people. If most of the people don’t believe gay people should be allowed to marry then the will of the government will follow suit. The key thing to do then is to work on changing the hearts and minds of the people by convincing them that marriage should be for everyone, so that the next time the question comes up on the ballot the laws can be changed.

      • Kristen J.
        September 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm

        If the Government was supposed to represent the “will of the people”, then my husband and I wouldn’t have been able ot marry in a state when anti-miscegenation is still on the books. We wouldn’t be able to live together in a state that still has laws against co-habitation before marriage. The will of the people is often based in ignorance and fear. Law is not a reflection of justice and human rights should not be subject to a majority vote.

      • EG
        September 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm

        Basically, the government is supposed to represent the will of the people. If most of the people don’t believe gay people should be allowed to marry then the will of the government will follow suit.

        Bullshit. Human rights are not up for a majority vote. Even if the majority of people in this country think that all citizens should accept Jesus Christ as their savior, I am guaranteed freedom of religion. That same document guarantees equal protection under the law. If other people’s basic human rights are subject to the will of the majority, you have nothing but mob rule.

  29. September 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    There’s a difference between focusing on your own marginalized constituency and leaving other people out in the cold. I think the beginning of the article, in its attempts to make the rest of it relevant to the marriage equality movement, conflates the two.

    I’m not super focused/well read on vegan rights, for example. I’m not vegan. I don’t know many vegans these days. I have lots of balls to juggle in my life, and adding one that doesn’t directly affect me is a lot to ask.

    HOWEVER- when I worked in a restaurant and saw that my bosses adding meat byproducts to things you’d assume were meat free and actively telling us not to disclose that information? You can bet I told them I disagreed. You can bet I told my customers who were looking for a vegan option to look elsewhere. You can bet that was on my list of reasons why I eventually quit.

  30. Bagelsan
    September 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    (People, the “reply” button is blue and at the top of each post; if you click it, your comment will nest in the replied-to comment. Just FYI.)

  31. Bagelsan
    September 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Can Black Women Lead on Rethinking Marriage?

    My short answer: yes, sure, they absolutely can, for a variety of the reasons listed in the post. But it should in no way excuse them if they vote against marriage equality in the here and now. That’s not “busy” or “revolutionary” that’s “assholish” and “homophobic.”

    • (BFing)Sarah
      September 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Agreed.

  32. September 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    @miga

    “No, they aren’t separate topics. When you say that “marriage has been traditionally defined as man and woman, therefore it should only be defined as such” you are saying an untruth.”

    I could have been more specific to make my meaning clearer.

    I was referring to specific traditions. Some traditions allow non-heterosexual couples to marry, some don’t; and traditions can change over time, what is not allowed now may be allowed at some time in the future or maybe it was allowed in the past before popular/religious traditional opinion changed.

    “I wasn’t clear about that last bit, I meant within the confines of marriage. Are you ok with marriage being used for a union in which the man happens to have a vagina, and/or the woman happens to have a penis? Or used to?”

    Honestly, I can’t say for sure. I’ve never thought too deeply about it. I do believe that all consenting adults should be able to love who they want to love, pass on property to whom they want to pass it onto, and all those other rights that marriage bestows under the law. I’m just not sure how far I would expand the word “marriage,” whether or not I would call all such unions “marriage,” where civil unions fit into this, what about the religious institutions that don’t want to marry non-heterosexual people…

    And this could be another reason why some people vote against gay marriage–they fear they might be opening up a can of worms or don’t know where these sort of questions lead, so they figure it would just be easier (legally, socially, religiously) to keep marriage as it is and just exclude a portion of the population.

    • EG
      September 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      what about the religious institutions that don’t want to marry non-heterosexual people…

      What about them? Nobody’s making them do jack shit. The Catholic Church would refuse to marry me, an atheist, to a man of my choosing, but I can still get legally married any time I want (providing I can find a consenting partner).

    • Partial Human
      September 18, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      And this could be another reason why some people vote against gay marriage–they fear they might be opening up a can of worms or don’t know where these sort of questions lead

      Care to give us some examples of these fears, what sort of thing same-sex marriage might lead to?

      I’m very interested. Thanks in advance .

      • Donna L
        September 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

        what sort of thing same-sex marriage might lead to?

        People marrying dogs and goats, of course. We’ve heard everything else on this thread; why not that?

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        Or- lazy, immoral people living in sin being given benefits that should only be given to married people. Because marriage is sacred and those not married are clearly unworthy of special tax breaks. Marriage benefits are the reward of the pious, worthy, respectable person, not just any ol’ person shacking up with someone. Oh and let’s not forget those dirty immigrants getting benefits currently reserved for married people! You’re just opening the door for all the unworthy people thinking their non traditional families are just as valid as married peoples. You can’t reward people for playing house!

        (these are actual arguments I’ve read from people)

      • September 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm

        Because marriage is sacred and those not married are clearly unworthy of special tax breaks.

        “Because marriage is sacred, gay people can’t have rights like having a child together” –> actual argument.

        Also, please do let me know who’s criminalised straight people having children out of wedlock. Compare to all the gay people who aren’t allowed to adopt, or let their partner adopt their bio child.

        Oh and let’s not forget those dirty immigrants getting benefits currently reserved for married people!

        Speaking as an immigrant who’s heard enough shit about gay immigrants to make the shit about straight immigrants seem trivial and benign, fuck you sideways for implying that this is an argument that gay people don’t have to worry about.

        You can’t reward people for playing house!

        “Just because you’re faking some sort of “lesbian” relationship doesn’t mean we’re going to reward you with marriage!”

        Don’t fucking play the oppression olympics about people who CAN get married if they want, against people who are PUNISHED for wanting to get married. Seriously, pheeno, this entire thread has been you being passive-aggressively homophobic and telling gay people you know their needs better than they do and whining about how oppressed straight people are in today’s society. Please, please stop talking.

      • Partial Human
        September 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

        Oh Donna, my best friends got civically partnerificated two weeks ago, is that why next door’s husky keeps eyeing me up? Is it a tit-for-tat thing, every legal joining of filthy queers=a human/dog arrangement?

        Bugger. She’s not even an indoor dog, and I’m used to my home comforts. This is not good. I’ll try and buy her off with tasty steak pies instead

        I hope one day your son can get married, and me too, and my friends who are civilly partnered. Ugh that sounds so sterile and chilly.

        I’m lucky that here in the UK I have partner rights simply by being in a relationship with my beloved, we have legal protection even as common-law “spouses”, but the romantic in me wants to show her off to the world.

        @Mac – congrats on the upcoming nuptials! I’m excited for you both.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm

        Perhaps you don’t understand Mac, but I’ve only posted bullshit I have read assholes posting when they go on about marriage equality.

        Just like the hateful ” well next people will want to marry toasters or their dogs”.

        My comment was posted in exactly the goddamn same vein as Donna’s. Meaning-I added her list of “reasons” as to what “horrible” things douchebags think will happen if marriage equality is obtained.

        I was MOCKING them and showcasing not only their homophobia but their bullshit patriotic godbag filled crap about marriage, their racism and their hatred of immigrants.

      • September 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

        Perhaps you don’t understand Mac, but I’ve only posted bullshit I have read assholes posting when they go on about marriage equality.

        Sorry about misunderstanding you. I simply assumed that you were continuing the arguments from threads further above, where you were using pretty much these same arguments to argue that there are non-homophobic reasons to reject marriage equality. Which, since you explained above, too, that you’re representing arguments rather than making them yourself, I’ve calmed down a lot about. I think we were acting out of similar ignorance of the opposite axis of oppression (me for race, you for sexuality). I still don’t think there are real non-homophobic reasons that voting against marriage equality would help straight black women who are ostensibly voting against, but still.

        @Mac – congrats on the upcoming nuptials! I’m excited for you both.

        Eee, thank you! ^__^ I’m really excited, too.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm

        I think we were acting out of similar ignorance of the opposite axis of oppression (me for race, you for sexuality). I still don’t think there are real non-homophobic reasons that voting against marriage equality would help straight black women who are ostensibly voting against, but still.

        Yes, I think we were too and I’m sincerely sorry I upset/contributed to oppressing you. Doesn’t happen often, but it bothered me after I got off the computer. Most things online don’t follow me after I log off, but this did and I wanted you to know that. Not that it makes it better, or excuses it, but still just want you to know.

      • September 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm

        Thank you, pheeno. That means a lot to me, actually.

    • September 19, 2012 at 11:24 am

      Then, as other commenters were stating before: why can’t it change now? There is no reason except for other peoples’ homophobia that this shouldn’t change, just as there was no reason except for other peoples’ racism that my dad’s parents couldn’t get legally married (he was a white-lookin’ Mexican immigrant and she was a dark cocoa black US woman).

      I’m not arguing against religious traditions in general (I’m Catholic!), just traditions that become law and are used to hurt other people. I deserve to be able to walk down the aisle just like everyone else. I might not be able to do it in the Church I love, but at least I should be able to do it in the place I live.

      Honestly, I can’t say for sure. I’ve never thought too deeply about it.

      Well, maybe you should before you go spouting homophobia and/or transphobia under the guise of playing devil’s advocate. These are real people being hurt by your words. Think before you speak.

  33. tmc
    September 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Wow, as a queer Black woman, I hate this thread on so many fucking levels.

    • September 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      You want some popcorn, aspirin, or an appletini?

      • tmc
        September 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

        All three!

    • miga
      September 19, 2012 at 12:32 am

      It feels like we’re playing a bad Pokemon game. Especially with these new avatars.

      “A homophobe appears!”

      “Miga- use logic!”

      “It’s not very effective.”

      ARGHLBARKDLGSD111 D:

      • FYouMudFlaps
        September 19, 2012 at 5:05 am

        You truly say the greatest thing ever here.

      • September 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm

        This.

  34. September 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I am confused by this article. I do think that the queer rights movements have done an abysmal job of recognizing and celebrating the queer women (and men) of colour who have done so much work on behalf of themselves and the rest of us. I also, as I said, greatly respect the work of many straight women (and men) of colour and would gladly count them as allies, if they want to be allies. But this article seems to stray too much into once again erasing queer POC, as white queers have done, and I don’t clearly understand its point or its goal.

    If straight women of colour want to be queer allies, then by all means, and I in fact know many straight WOC allies. If some straight WOC feel they cannot support queers (which, again, includes queers of colour), because they have too many of their own battles to fight, I have an urge to sympathize, but I also know I wouldn’t feel much sympathy for queer whites who felt that they could not be moved not to support racist legislation because they have their own shit to deal with. So I am ambivalent.

    I think no one is obliged to fight battles they don’t have the energy or resources for. I honestly do believe that. And while I welcome straight black women as allies (again, I already know many), I wouldn’t then look to them for *leadership* – I’m not sure why any straight person should lead this movement, given that it’s not their own personal fight. It would definitely be strange for me to suggest that white queers should be leading a movement which had at its centre the concerns of straight black women. (I get that oppressions are not directly exchangeable – cultural context and all – I’m just trying to illustrate my confusion with what this article is about.)

    So, do I think that straight black women have a lot to contribute? Hell yes, without question. But I question the idea that they have more call to leadership than, say, queer women of colour. And I agree so much with the statements above that straight women of colour have, whether they recognize it or not, many queer people in their lives and their hearts.

    Any straight person does not understand what it is like to be gay, and especially to be gay in a heterocentrist and homophobic society, which is true of all experiences of marginalization – they all have their own bitter flavour. I would hope that straight women of colour would be able to empathize, however, based on their own experiences and also realize that they too are capable of perpetuating social harms ignorance or malice.

    More than anything I wish this would stop being framed (not just here, but in general) as a conflict between black straight values and white queer values.

    • September 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      I am confused by this article. I do think that the queer rights movements have done an abysmal job of recognizing and celebrating the queer women (and men) of colour who have done so much work on behalf of themselves and the rest of us. I also, as I said, greatly respect the work of many straight women (and men) of colour and would gladly count them as allies, if they want to be allies. But this article seems to stray too much into once again erasing queer POC, as white queers have done, and I don’t clearly understand its point or its goal.

      I think many people here share your confusion. I wish the author of the OP would perhaps pop by the comment section to clarify. (I looked at the cross post and there didn’t seem to be comments there either.)

  35. September 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I should say that I’m not just confused by the article (which seems at first to suggest that black women are skeptical of marriage as an institution only to admit at the end that this is *not* the case as black women are struggling more with wanting to be married and not being able to), but also the discussion thread here and the other perspectives being added. I am familiar with criticisms of marriage equality because of the problems of the institution itself (from *within* the queer movement most often, actually), but from the discussion playing out here and from the admission at the end of the article, that doesn’t really seem to me to be what’s going on at all. So, if that’s not it, what is the non-homophobic reason to actively oppose gay marriage?

    • DonnaL
      September 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      So, if that’s not it, what is the non-homophobic reason to actively oppose gay marriage?

      Despite all the mental gymnastics some people have engaged in here in an attempt to try to come up with such a reason — there isn’t a non-homophobic reason to actively oppose same-sex marriage, while simultaneously taking the position that straight people (including oneself!) should continue to be able to get married. None.

      Sure, it’s wonderful to advocate extending the legal benefits of marriage to any voluntary combination of two adults, but I don’t know of anyone who actually works towards that goal who actually advocates extending the benefits of marriage to no one as a way of achieving it. It’s pure double-talk. And not one Black woman commenting here has actually claimed to fall into that category, or to oppose the institution of marriage in general, or to justify opposition to same-sex marriage on the basis of skepticism towards the institution of marriage in general.

      And, yes, despite the strained attempts to defend the language of the OP, I have no doubt whatsoever that the “skepticism” referred to was skepticism as manifested by votes against same-sex marriage — otherwise, it would make no sense to refer to skepticism as expressed at the polls. Because nobody casts a vote for skepticism about same-sex marriage by voting in favor of it! Very clearly, the OP is hoping to attribute anti-same sex marriage votes by Black women (a “straw woman” in the first place, given that opposition by Black women to same sex marriage has been highly exaggerated) to skepticism rather than homophobia, religiously-motivated or otherwise. But she provides no examples of anyone who actually has voted that way for that reason rather than standard homophobic reasons. It’s all entirely speculative. And if she did find someone who said they voted against same-sex marriage because of marriage skepticism, but said they weren’t against marriage in general? Their vote would still be the product of homophobia.

      • DonnaL
        September 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm

        I should add that despite the accusations to that effect, few if any of the people commenting here have argued that not caring about same-sex marriage, and focusing on issues important to oneself and one’s community = homophobia in any way. It’s actual affirmative opposition to same-sex marriage that I and other people have been talking about. So anyone making an impassioned argument against the first proposition is arguing something that isn’t being disputed.

  36. September 18, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    On a completely different note, the number of (presumably American) POC on this thread willing, without an apparent shred of irony, to propose a separate but equal arrangement for non-straight folks depresses the shit out of me.

    • EG
      September 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      Well, you know, “marriage” is only a word, so what difference does it make? Except when it represents very important traditions and beliefs, so we can’t mess with it.

    • Mr. Kristen J.
      September 18, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      For what its worth, I’m with you. Marriage is not a great institution, but as long as it remains legally and culturally significant it must be open to all people and all consensual relationships. Holding on to that value of equality is not a burden, it isn’t work and it doesn’t conflict with my own struggle for equality. Any assertion to the contrary strikes me as false. We get there together, not as individuals looking out for those like us, but as a human family committed to the wellbeing of every member.

    • Bagelsan
      September 19, 2012 at 12:40 am

      Separate but equal… why does that ring a bell… some bell that, I dunno, black women might not like… 9_9

  37. igglanova
    September 19, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Man, I was gonna say something about how fucked up a thread like this reads to queers of colour, but it looks like you’ve all got it basically covered. I don’t have much else to say but WTF.

    • September 19, 2012 at 1:03 am

      Hi. Fellow queer of colour. Though not the right colour, apparently.

      Sorry, I’m just feeling bitter.

      • igglanova
        September 19, 2012 at 1:39 am

        No worries about the bitterness. Shit, I’d be surprised if crap like this didn’t make a person feel bitter at times.

        (Quickly, though, I want to point out that I’m not actually a POC. I just wanted to clear that up, because I was worried that allowing people to believe that I am a POC could give me some undeserved ‘cred’ in future comment threads about race.)

  38. EG
    September 19, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I just fundamentally don’t buy this. I know plenty of Marxists who don’t vote because, for example, welfare is not good enough, we need revolution to assure a decent standard of living to all people.

    Well, we don’t have revolution, and we’re not going to have revolution any time soon, so in them meantime, welfare is pretty fucking important to plenty of people.

    I didn’t buy it then, coming from Marxists, and I don’t buy it now, in a theory regarding black women for which I see not a shred of evidence presented.

    • A4
      September 19, 2012 at 8:38 am

      That’s what really gets me here. There’s no evidence around here to make me think this group of women really exists.

  39. EG
    September 19, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I also don’t think a subgroup of straight, cis people–any subgroup, no matter how oppressed along other axes they are–gets to decide whether or not its votes against marriage equality are homophobic or not. GLBTQ people get to decide that.

  40. (BFing)Sarah
    September 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I think it is so depressing that, on a site like Feministe, people are having to defend their rights to marry the person they love. How is it that there is even a discussion of what REASONS there are to support inequality? And whether those “reasons” are legitimate? I can understand the exhaustion mentioned by several posters above because I expect this type of thing on other cites, but I don’t expect to see it here. Its really disappointing. I’m straight, with the accompanying privilege, but it makes me sick that people are still on the wrong side of history on this issue.

  41. volunteer for MD4ME & No On 8
    September 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I haven’t read through the whole thread yet (I know, I know), but I’m confused about something:

    But what we don’t know and what I’d love for some exit poll to find out is whether black voters — especially straight black women — actually are skeptical of marriage equality for reasons that have nothing to do with homophobia

    That’s from the OP. Then mackavity (whose comments I’ve been agreeing with, I should add) says:

    Voting against marriage equality means opposed to marriage equality. And she was speaking of exit polls for people who voted against marriage equality, was she not?

    What poll is being discussed here? All I’m seeing in the OP wishing for an exit poll that doesn’t exist.

    What I read were polls from people who had other shit on their mind, not marriage equality.

    What poll? Where? Links?

    Then mackavity says (and don’t get me wrong, I agree with the sentiment of the comment, but):

    If you were arguing about black people voting republican in this election, I could see your point about other issues weighing in, but Prop 8? Nothing else was going on.

    Um, no. I agree with the thrust of your statement, but I was there. In Los Angeles. Prop 8 was one of many propositions on the ballot. Others were:

    * Proposition 2 – Regulations on animal confinement practices (hence why some anti-Prop 8 protesters dressed as chickens after Prop 8 passed, or held signs that read, “You gave chickens more rights than us!”)

    * Proposition 4 – Waiting period and parental notification before minors obtain abortions

    * Proposition 11 – Independent commission to draw legislative district boundaries

    Etc.

    There was also this other big thing that was going on on Nov. 4th, 2008. That thing where two dudes, I don’t remember their names, McCain and Obama or something, were vying for this really important office or some shit.

    That said… I’m sorry, but the idea that black voters just had other priorities or “other things on their mind” when voting for Prop 8 is redonk. When I knock on doors for Marylanders for Marriage Equality and someone, black or white, is against marriage equality, the issue is religion. Every. Single. Time. It’s Jeebus. So chalking it up to black women prioritizing other things, or side-eyeing the institution of marriage in general, or whatever, does not at all reflect my on-the-ground, in-person experience with this issue. It’s people thinking Jesus hates the gays. Whenever someone is on our side, it’s because they know out gay people. It’s really honestly fucking simple, guys.

  42. volunteer for MD4ME & No On 8
    September 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    – Radicals who don’t need to worry about their destroy-all-norms attitude having negative consequences because they can never win

    Ahahaha. As someone whose politics (or at least, Utopian Fantasy Version of America) are pretty radical, I have to say, this is the best thing I’ve ever read. It’s so true, dude. It’s so true. (And yeah. Tumblr is a slimepit.)

  43. volunteer for MD4ME & No On 8
    September 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Sorry to keep commenting, but Mac, I wanted to apologize for being needlessly insulting about the factual inaccuracies I perceived in your comment — you’ve dealt with a lot of shit in this thread. (As a bi chick myself, this thread has also been making me boggle.) Also, EG and A4’s latest comments basically sum up my reaction to the OP.

Comments are closed.