Tag Archives: gay marriage

Eye-opener

This past weekend in Paris was an eye-opener.

When foreigners think of Paris, we of course imagine the Eiffel Tour, the Triumphal Arc and the Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre.

But beyond the museums and tourist attractions, we also think of Paris as being a center of intellectual liberalism. The home of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. The city of American expatriates like Hemmingway and Langston Hughes. The sight of the sexual revolution protests in 1968 that witnessed a seemingly out-of-touch Charles de Gaulle resign from office.

On Sunday, Paris was the sight of a very different sort of protest from those of ‘68. Rather than students descending on the streets of Paris to protest for reproductive rights, thousands of bourgeois Parisians swarmed such iconic sights of past protests as the Bastille all in the name of opposing France’s new gay marriage law.

My boyfriend and I unwittingly picked a horrible time to visit the city. A friend of ours was on a whirlwind, 8-day tour of Europe and happened to be stopping through Paris the same weekend as the protest – something we only realized once we arrived and saw hundreds of posters across the city inviting “Tous à Paris” (Everyone to Paris) on May 26.

On the day of the protest, we did our best to avoid the crowds of homophobic, Right-wing protestors but it was inevitable that we came across more than our fair share. When we woke up on Sunday morning, several dozen had gathered at the Gare de Lyon near our hotel and our friend’s hostel.

My boyfriend made the observation that all of the protestors exuded an image of wealth and class.

And it’s true. While it’s true that there was nothing classy about their hoodies adorned with stick-figure heteronormative families, they all seemed like they hailed from the same white, bourgeois neighborhoods. While some protestors made their way towards La Place de la Bastille, a number of others sat down to expensive sidewalk cafés for Sunday lunch.

A nice Bordeaux, perhaps, to go with your protest, Monsieur?

We spent the afternoon in Montmartre away from the protestors. There were still signs pasted on notice boards and street lamps, of course, but we could happily forget that the city streets below were swollen with well-to-do Catholics, many of whom decided this would be an appropriate occasion to trot out their own young children as if this was an appropriate occasion for showing off to gay couples what they were missing out on.

A train ride north and we were in Saint-Denis to visit the first gothic-style basilica in Europe and the final resting place of France’s royalty. Saint-Denis is outside Paris and as you ride the metro you notice a significant shift in the demographics from what you see in the city’s core.

In the two or three hours we were in Saint-Denis, I saw a total of one sticker near the metro entrance announcing the protest. Mind you, we didn’t simply walk to the basilica, turn around and leave; we went to a café afterwards and then walked down the main street to a McDonalds for internet access. We saw a lot of kids with their families playing out on the street, riding their bikes and playing soccer. But no hoodies or flags with stick figures of mom, dad and the kids.

The complete lack of interest in this working class, heavily Muslim neighborhood synthesized for me what a divided city Paris is. Where before I’d only seen the classic 19th century architecture and wide boulevards along the Seine River, I could now see the conservative ruling class that was still in place 150 years after Paris’ reconstruction largely rid the inner parts of the city of its poor and working classes.

My hunch is that many in this diverse community don’t have favorable feelings towards gay marriage or gay adoption. I don’t want to suppose a percentage or a proportion, but I’m sure that if you conducted a poll, you would find plenty who oppose the new law. The protests in Paris, however, don’t reflect the values of the suburbs since many of the same wealthy few in the city’s core are the very same ones who support anti-immigration and Islamophobic measures.

Here I will make one concession to Americans who oppose gay marriage: they are generally very fervently convicted of their beliefs. It’s not a question of propriety or preserving the status quo, but rather a question of moral rightness. Yes, of course it is wrong to impose a religious system of beliefs on what should be a free and open democracy, but at least there is some misguided conviction present which drives such actions, some idea that what is at stake is the very heart and soul of our country.

Meanwhile in Paris, the haves hold the have-nots at arm’s length in the suburbs as a tribute to the 19th century reconstruction of the city, just as they tried to keep immigrants out in the 20th century and just as they are trying to keep non-traditional families from enjoying the same rights today in the 21st century.

A symbol of intellectual liberalism and progress? Perhaps yes, but only as spurned on by the overbearing conservative bourgeois who dominate still today.

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2013 is our year

Equality DE

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28/01/2013 · 16:55

Who cares, NC?

The news out of North Carolina has been a bit of a shock for the world of everything gay here in the USA, I think.

I haven’t been following the story very closely, but as far as I know, I don’t know anyone who expected the amendment to get passed so soundly – on a 60/40 margin.

So it’s not really surprising that NC voted in favor of it but, still, the polling prior to this vote suggested it would be closer.

More people voted in today’s NC election than in the highly contested 2008 Democratic primary. In fact, over 500,000 more people voted in today’s election than did in the primary four years ago.

Which makes me really uncomfortable.

I guess I really didn’t care that much about NC voting to once more ban any type of marriage that isn’t one man and one woman. (This time it’s in the state’s constitution – gay marriage was already illegal, though.)

Before proceeding, it should be noted that this isn’t just about gay marriage. From Mother Jones : “While it’s being called a gay marriage ban, the amendment is more than that—it’s an all-out refusal to recognize any kind of partnership or union that isn’t marriage. So gay North Carolinians, who couldn’t get married anyway, are screwed, and so are straight, unmarried North Carolina couples.”

The American Religious Right has a fixation on marriage and on keeping a small minority group out of that institution for the sake of its “protection”, for the sake of its “sanctity”. If we were really concerned about the sanctity of that institution, why not enforce laws that make it harder to get divorced? Why not attack shows like the Bachelor or the Bachelorette that make marriage into a reality TV farce? (Forgive me, I’m sure there are newer, better, badder versions of that show, but I’m definitely not hip enough to have any idea what they are. Oh yeah, and I don’t own a TV.) Why not make it necessary to have a one year waiting period between the time people get engaged and the time they get married to emphasize the weightiness of entering into this type of union?

Ladies and gentlemen, I propose to you that the Religious Right doesn’t give a shit about the sanctity of marriage or the seriousness of this union. If they did, they wouldn’t bother doubly banning fags like me from getting married.

Why, NC? What are you after?

jrm

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Filed under Queer Politics, US Politics

Rethinking Marriage

I’m going to be upfront with you: I have reservations about “marriage equality”.

Here in Delaware, a new bill went into effect at the beginning of the year which allows couples who are lesbian or gay to get civil unions. While a lot of people are very pleased that it’s going into effect (myself being one of them), others say that civil unions don’t offer real equality.

Let me also be upfront in saying this: I think that every couple that wishes to make a commitment to one another should have that commitment recognized by the state and they should be able to enjoy its benefits regardless of sexual orientation.

I recognize the fact that I need to tread very carefully here. There are people who have been waiting their whole lives to marry their partner – some of whom will never see that day and that leaves me heartbroken. We all deserve our day. I am genuinely excited that more and more states in this country are beginning to recognize this right – and glad that more and more Americans feel that civil unions and marriage should be extended to LGB couples.

However, I have my reservations about marriage.

As an outsider, I have a hard time taking marriage too seriously. I will never understand why we overemphasize this one day when, in theory, you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with this person. Why set yourself back thousands of dollars on a dress you’ll never wear again or make yourself go through a diet just to fit into it? Why not spend that money on your future instead? Why spend all that money on a facility and photos? You could spend that on a better apartment, house or car. Your education or your kids’ education. Hell, why don’t you put it into a nice vacation? At least that would last a week or two.

If I ever get a civil union/get married, I want the simplest ceremony possible. Maybe even just going down to the courthouse and having it officiated there. Then send out invitations to all your friends and have a huge party. No overpriced dresses, no patriarchal rituals or bad singing, no sermons. And I also want to be realistic. I don’t really want there to be anything about “Till death do you part” in the ceremony.

Then there’s all the gendered baggage associated with “traditional” marriage. Who’s going to be the man in the relationship? Who’s going to be the homemaker? What if, in fact, I don’t want to be the man or the housewife? What if I don’t want either of those from my partner?

And by the way, these are also questions for the straight world to deal with as well. How comfortable do you feel as a straight woman being “given away” by your father to another man? Why don’t you walk down the damn aisle yourself! What about married expectations as far as gender roles are concerned?

Obviously a lot of these questions are for couples to consider – but we must all face the weight of society’s expectations and if we are going to participate in this institution as LGB people, might I suggest that as we fight for inclusion, we simultaneously reevaluate it and test what needs reforming? Simply fighting to participate in what is oftentimes in the heterosexual world a very sexist ritual is not enough.

What are your thoughts on marriage equality? For LGB readers, what are your thoughts on getting a civil union vs. getting married? Is getting a civil union akin to the farce of “separate but equal” in American racial segregation? Are you married? Do you have a civil union? Do you feel that your relationship’s label has implications for your relationship?

jrm

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