Saturday, October 28, 2006


In one part of my heart, marriage for queer people thrills me. Sentimental, syrupy, sappy, I want to be married. I may resist the femininity that proscribes the cream puff dress; I may have an analysis that resists patriarchy and commercialism, but still I want to be married. Sometimes. Sometimes, I want the mark of living outside the hegemonic systems. I want to not be married. I want to resist marriage. I sway back and forth between these two polls thankful that for the moment marriage is not an option for me - it’s not available in my home state of Maryland and the object of my affection has convinced me that we wouldn’t even consider marriage until we could do it where we live. So we’re the lesbians who’ve been in Canada, Massachusetts, and Vermont and emerged license, registration, civil union free.

In the other part of my heart, I yearn for a dialogue about marriage that is deeper than what I want individually. I want a dialogue about how we organize our lives and how our government and our collective institutions support and engage our lives. A group of queer academics want the same thing and have book together a statement called, Beyond Marriage. It’s a beginning to talk about what is next for the queer community. The Washington Blade covered the statement in this article, Rethinking the Marriage Debate. I’m excited about this Beyond Marriage statement and what it represents in a new trajectory of thinking in the queer community, but I think it is a first step. Marriage has become an entrenched issue in a short amount of time and one that appeals in an emotive and even irrational way. To move beyond marriage, we’ll need more than intellect; we’ll need something else to appeal to our hearts and to our souls.

In the short term, on November 8th, there will be a new set of thinking about how we shape our political lives based on the outcomes of the mid-term elections. I’m watching the Senate race in Virginia in particular. If Jim Webb is able to win in spite of the Virginia anti-gay ballot initiative, he’ll be the first politician to pull off a win who spoke out against an anti-gay ballot initiative, though I wouldn’t characterize his “speaking out” as much more than tepid opposition; still it is opposition. I’m also watching what happens in my home state of Maryland as well as the other hot spots. As always, hoping for a break out year from the past six years. A new direction in Washington could signal a new direction for the queer community, not just work to advance the notion of marriage equality, but a new engagement in progressive values. Given the people that the Democrats are running to be competitive (Webb and Casey, in particular), that seems unlikely, but I live in hope - just like I hope you do, too.

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