As a Queer identified person I've found my romantic and sexual attractions range a fairly wide gamut, including some people that would be identified as being the same sex as me by the state and/or federal government. With this in mind same sex marriage sounds as though it could have a major impact on my life and open up all sorts of possibilities. Additionally I largely see same sex marriage as a foregone conclusion even if it may take a while. So why aren't I more excited?
As people that know me have gradually realized I'm a marriage resistor. I see the institution of marriage as unnecessary to create stable families and view the insistence on marriage promotion amongst politicians as a method to subtly control individuals. I also see a number of the every day acts of violence and oppression perpetuated against Queer people as being more important to focus on than, and in many ways unrelated to, the legal status of same sex marriage. Naturally this has caused a lot of conflict with the mainstream Gay rights movement that seems to be all about marriage as a way of obtaining legitimacy in the eyes of straight society.
I've spent the last few days discussing these views with friends and I recognize that I'm not likely to change many minds. Rather than attempting to explain why people should be opposed to marriage, or why the community as a whole should at least be shifting its primary focus from marriage to other issues without fully opposing marriage, I will instead be outlining what I see as being the limits of same sex marriage. These aren't pros and cons, I recognize in many instances that same sex marriage does offer concrete benefits to people that are being deprived of them at great personal cost. Instead this is merely an explanation of what those benefits are, and where they're lacking. My hope is that those in the Queer community who currently have their eyes on marriage will not see this as an attack on their personal ambitions, but rather a call to recognize that if they choose to see same sex marriage as a stepping stone to larger progress they cannot allow themselves to lose momentum when it's achieved.
Also, this list is not equally balanced. I don't see it that way, I see the institution of marriage as a bad thing. It's not fair and I won't try to make it sound fair. Take my bias for what it is.
Finally, this is not a commentary on the legitimacy of either law being currently debated by the Supreme Court. Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act are both despicable and unjust laws and I hope they are overturned with the strongest language possible. This is entirely a commentary on the seeming focus on marriage as a worthy end goal in itself. Now, without further adeiu:
Same sex marriage WILL allow you to share health insurance with your partner.
Same sex marriage WILL allow Queer people the legal right to visit their partners in the hospitsal.
Same sex marriage will NOT provide you with health insurance. If you are poor, homeless, unemployed, or some combination of the three and cannot afford health insurance for yourself the legalization of same sex marriage won't change that fact.
Same sex marriage will NOT provide with health CARE. The with healthcare considered to be an industry rather than a right the boundaries of what one is able to receive for their personal care is largely decided by the insurance industry. Coverage for mental healthcare, surgeries and procedures meant to reduce or eliminate ones body/gender dysphoria, and access to birth control, contraception, and abortion will not become more comprehensive or affordable should same sex marriage become fully legalized.
Same sex marriage will NOT guarantee access to healthcare that is hospitals are legally obligated to provide to you. Refusing to treat someone at an emergency room is already illegal and it hasn't kept Transgender people from being refused care in life-or-death situations or otherwise mistreated by healthcare providers (please note that this particular link involves the Affordable Care Act which itself may or may not impact the numbers provided over time). Same sex marriage will have no impact on this practice.
Same sex marriage WILL require the state to respect established monogamous partnerships between two men or two women.
Same sex marriage will NOT force individual agencies of state authority, such as the police force, to respect your marriage. Homphobic or transphobic police officers may still act to separate you from your partner with the pretext of a legal system that is homophobic and transphobic in its design. Once separated these entities may dispute your right to legal visitations or delay access. Your identity may still be used as a way to bias a -phobic jury as to your guilt. You will still be at higher risk of police harassment based on your identity or perceived identity. Your identity may still bias judges in child custody cases.
Same sex marriage will NOT guarantee equal marriage access for intersex people.
Same sex marriage will NOT impact state or federal restrictions on Polyamory. However it may open up many unsuspective same-sex moresomes to felony charges related to bigamy or adultery.
Same sex marriage will NOT guarantee access to publicly provided resources such as welfare that require an individual to overcome the bias of a supervising official.
Same sex marriage will NOT force the state to respect the marriages of Queer People of Color. The state doesn't even respect heterosexual marriage amongst People of Color and has shown itself to be perfectly content ripping families apart in support of the prison industrial complex. Homophobia will still exacerbate this process.
Same sex marriage will NOT force the United States military to provide equal benefits to the spouses of Queer soldiers. Nor will it shift the allotments of military funds to benefit soldiers over outdated Cold War style weapons systems that benefit the weapons manufacturers.
Same sex marriage will NOT stop Queer people from being killed by the United States government in any country the military is currently at war with or occupies. Bombs are indiscriminate.
Same sex marriage will NOT encourage the United States government to intervene in the mass slaughter of Queer people even in countries which we currently occupy. Even during the occupation of Iraq the United States government has failed to curb or eliminate the execution of Queer people by the Iraqi government.
Same sex marriage WILL have a positive impact on the economy.
Same sex marriage will NOT create an economy that is centered around the needs of individuals instead of consumption. While wedding cakes and lavish parties allow Queers to participate in a ritual of capitalistic excess there is no way to be sure that the economic stimulus will be meaningfully spent to help Queer people. Increased tax revenue may be given as a subsidy to a corporation or faith based initiative whose actions directly harm Queer people.
Same sex marriage will NOT reduce the huge percentage of Queer and/or Transgender people on the streets. It will not cause straight parents not to abandon or harm Queer youth, stop abuse and assault in shelters or the adoption system, or increase funding for programs that help homeless Queer youth. Additionally, strong proponents of same sex marriage such as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg also promote "quality of life" laws which are incredibly harmful to homeless people of all stripes but especially damaging to gender non-conforming youth and Queer youth of color.
Same sex marriage WILL allow Queer people to pass on inheritance to their children.
Same sex marriage will NOT end employment or housing discrimination which prevent Queer people from having an inheritance to pass on.
Same sex marriage will NOT guarantee legalized adoption by Queer parents or prevent biasing in the adoption process.
Same sex marriage WILL provide tax breaks and to married Queer couples equal to those given to married straight couples.
Same sex marriage will NOT provide a structure that guarantees safe and respectful elder care for Queer people.
Same sex marriage WILL allow same sex partners to apply for immigration.
Same sex marriage will NOT remove biasing in the immigration system.
Same sex marriage will NOT increase opportunities for Queer undocumented workers to immigrate safely without the threat of deportation and state violence.
Same sex marriage will NOT increase the rate at which Queer people in countries in which their lives are threatened receive asylum.
Same sex marriage WILL provide a sense of psychological benefit that comes from the legitimacy of having ones partnership recognized legally.
Same sex marriage will NOT end Queer suicide and is not certain to reduce it.
Same sex marriage will NOT end child abuse against Queers and is not certain to reduce it.
Same sex marriage will NOT make conversion therapy illegal.
Same sex marriage will NOT end Queer bashing.
Same sex marriage will NOT end homophobic or transphobic bullying.
Same sex marriage WILL allow Queer people to have lives more like those of straight people with less restrictions.
Same sex marriage will NOT make straight people respect Queer people, our properties, our families, our bodies, or our lives.
Same sex marriage will NOT make the Human Rights Campaign care about Transgender people for anything other than money.
Same sex marriage will NOT guarantee future reforms.
Sadly this is just a brief list, I'm sure others could contribute even more. However it is a snapshot of just how far we still have to go. I don't want it to sour your wedding cake for you, or make you think you don't deserve a day to celebrate. What I do want is for you to remember when the cake is eaten, the dancing is done, and the celebration is over that the rest of us are still hungry, shambling, and in desperate need for the next step to be taken. There can be no slowing down, no faltering, and absolutely no doubt that marriage is NOT the end of Queer needs and Queer rights.