Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quick Post: Failure in the Face of DOMA's Repeal

I'm finally back from an INCREDIBLE trip to Pagan Spirit Gathering and a subsequent incredible trip to Indianapolis to spend several days with my partner and metamours. I'm all set to get working on a long list of PSG articles, but there was some news during my absence that needs addressing.

First of all, Exodus International is shutting down. This is the most positive news for Queer people in recent memory. Exodus International has been responsible for the physical torture and psychological abuse of Queer people for decades, through a process referred to as "conversion therapy" but more aptly termed "suicide conditioning" due to the extremely high rate of suicide that follows the practice. Whether leaders of this organization can ever be forgiven for what they've done is a question I have little interest in, but the organization itself is pulling its support for conversion therapy and shutting down. That's satisfying enough. The lives of Queer people everywhere became brighter as this behemoth crumbled.

The bigger news of course is the Supreme Court decision made the other day on the Voting Rights Act. By ruling a key article of the act unconstitutional the Supreme Court has essentially reopened the way for mass voter disenfranchisement, literacy tests, and other tactics to prevent oppressed groups from having any access to the voting booth. Chief Justice John Roberts, who deserves to go down in history as the man intent on resurrecting Jim Crow, authored a decision which has the ability to bring an end to voting rights for everyone in the country that doesn't look white enough to vote Republican. State governments have been reassured that if they put measures in place that disenfranchise people of color the Supreme Court will allow them to continue.

It's because of this second piece of news that the celebration of the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act is so depressing to watch. Having pumped millions of dollars into ridding the world of this legislation, signed into law by a President that just got a GLAAD award, Gay rights organizations have been popping champagne left and right in the wake of this other Supreme Court ruling. They have been celebrating so hard they seem to have missed the news from the day before, and I'm not surprised. Assimilationists have been so busy convincing themselves that they're just like everyone else they can't be bothered to recognize that this facade only goes as far as the companies trying to get the pink dollar. It has never reached the ears of the majority of society, never enough to put a dent on Queer teen suicide statistics, or bullying, or police violence. When these people scream and cheer about being able to get married in exclusively traditional liberal states that have already adopted same-sex marriage they drown out the deeper underlying cry that starts ever earlier in the United States: "The election is coming."

I'm going to speak frankly here: The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act has accomplished nothing. Nothing. Zero. I don't just say this as someone that thinks marriage isn't useful for Queer people, I'm speaking literally as someone that hasn't been partying so hard since it was repealed that I can still conceive of long term planning. The Supreme Court just crippled a law that was meant to guarantee everyone in this country the right to vote. The immediate consequence is going to hit people of color the hardest, because they are once again able to be systematically denied their right and ability to vote at the whim of state and local legislators in an incredibly racist country. If you don't care about this I already want to yell at you, but for Gay people that can't seem to muster up concern over their post-DOMA haze, let me ask you this: When you pull up to your polling place with your Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker proudly polished to celebrate democracy, what exactly makes you think you'll be allowed to vote for someone that will guarantee you keep your right to get married? This is the conceit of the cissexist, white supremacist, Gay movement, the belief that the white picket fence protects them from the oppression faced by those "other" people. When you blink your way out of the haze and realize that right wing reactionaries just seized the ability to increase the power of white supremacy in this country, you're going to have to confront the cold hard facts that they don't see you as the right kind of white people, no matter how fabulous your wedding has been.

The Supreme Court did not just cripple black voting rights. They did not cripple people of color's voting rights. They crippled voting rights. This affects everyone. EVERYONE. This isn't a hard concept. When conservative state legislatures set up a pile of hurdles to keep people from voting they will bring in another wave of more conservative legislators that are perfectly capable of voting same-sex marriage back out of the states it's already legal in. What's more, those hurdles can just as easily be applied to people that read as Queer as they can to people of color. Sure, you can make sure you don't present too femme, because the Gay movement has been so good about femmephobia already, but you're staring into the tunnel back to the 1950's. You're looking back into the closet, back into the pits with the other "degenerates." No matter how well you've been dancing to the demands of heteronormative society you never made lasting change, because lasting change might scare off the allies. This is your whirlwind we now reap. All of us just lost decades of ground.

When you think to yourself "I deserve one day to celebrate. Things are still rough but we got a victory. We can sleep easy for at least a while" you do so out of ignorance. Not only do you need to utterly ignore a huge act of racism to keep the buzz going, but you need to ignore that when you wake up it won't be your legally recognized partner tapping you on the shoulder. When you wake up it will be to sirens blaring, to the beat of the jackboots descending onto your throat at full force, eager to return after being lightly restrained for so long, Tomorrow may look rosy for you now, but election day will come around not long after, and the Supreme Court has ruled that your needs, your rights, and you yourself have no place in that day and age.

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