"Gay Marriage." Has anyone used the term "Latino Marriage?" "Mixed-race Marriage," perhaps, and those too were once illegal, or in the neutral state between legal and illegal where we now find gay marriage hovering. So were marriages between slaves, in older days. The restriction of action and rights is an old habit of the powerful in America. What we see here, however, is not only a fight for rights and freedom of action, but a fight to clean same-sex relationships of certain stains.
It is true that marriage confers a number of rights in a number of institutions which no other union could. But this is not the only thing that marriage confers. Marriage is essentially a religious institution which crosses the borders of nearly every major religion in the world. It is the process by which any relationship becomes, not only sanctified, but accepted and approved by one's community, government and society. It is not only recognition, but support, and with this support relationships succeed which might otherwise have failed. It is a ceremony of binding and acceptance, and ceremonies and rituals still have great power, even in this less mystical age.
Marriage, it has been said again and again by the Bush administration, is a sacred institution. To say this as a line of offense against gay people choosing to be married is to miss the point. We know it is a sacred institution; this is why we desire it. It may not be the sanctification of any specific religion, but it is the sanctification which the State and our Society can give. To give us a paltry, mean alternative is to say we and our relationships aren't good enough for this sort of sanctification. And perhaps it is our fault, that we deem the institutions and structures of the majority are important enough to us to fight for. Still we choose to fight for it. "Wait," some people say - wait for another Democratic president, although all the current contenders have expressed their opposition to gay people having the option of marriage. Yet why wait? Why not fight for what we can have now? In a time of war, isn't it important for us to be united? Doesn't that logically mean giving those of us who desire them equal rights, to ensure we would be behind them? Even if one doesn't choose this pragmatic exchange of rights for support, isn't there an ethical compulsion to ensure that rights are available for everyone? Yet the President uses us a tool with which to divide the country, and the Democrats are afraid to support us because it might jeopardize their political position, not realizing that idealism and sticking to one's guns might mean more to the jaded people of America than wishy-washy waffling.
I pity the log-cabin republicans. The best light I can put on them, in my mind, shows people who are trying to work within the system to accomplish their own goals. I remember a quote from Audre Lorde, however - "The master's tools can never dismantle the master's house." The quote is often ridiculed and misunderstood because it is superficially self-contradictory, but what it really means is that one cannot use the tools and systems of the oppressor to accomplish goals and create structures outside of that of the oppressor, not least because the creation of the former often involves the dismantling or transformation of the latter. In this case, many are shocked to see the president has "turned on them;" they assumed their willingness to play by the rules - to work within the master's house - exempted them from such an eventuality. Now they know the truth. It is not adherence to system that is the deciding factor in selecting victims of oppression. It is political expediency. Minorities have become things to be bought and sold, with the price being freedom, and the object purchased political sanctuary. As Howard Zinn has noted, steps have been taken to ensure this situation remains so, with minorities struggling against each other and against themselves, never able to build the broad coalition necessary to resist the effects of such manipulation. We must wash each other's back, lest the dirt thrown at us sticks and we end up quite literally stuck in the mud.