Op-ed: Have We Sacrificed Our Freedom for Marriage?

Jim Morrison, host of the political show For & Against, takes on a conservative columnist who equates same-sex marriage with a desire to curb our queer appetites.

BY Jim Morrison

April 17 2013 5:42 AM ET

Of course, some married same-sex couples will want the type of marriage we can safely assume Brooks has in mind. If so, go for it. Some may want a wonderfully complicated (or not) non-monogamous marriage while still desiring the financial and other benefits bestowed upon “traditionally married” couples. Other LGBT people will want something else. And on and on. That's the wonderful power of the LGBTQ perspective and critique — it's about (I hope) challenging norms. At least sometimes.

It’s just as likely that we will add our own perspective to marriage and not always assimilate into its hetero-patriarchal conception. Besides, haven’t the straights done enough damage to the institution of marriage?

In the end, it’s amusing to watch the unfolding gymnastics. Now that society is tossing so much historical bigotry aside, conservatives like Brooks seem to be looking for ways to make us palatable to themselves. They know this ship is sailing, so they’re figuring out ways to jump on board and still sleep at night, ideologies intact.

What I’m more worried about is “us” buying too much into Brooks’s reasoning that the LGBT focus on marriage equality means we’re ready to conform, reform, and renounce or “unordered” behavior. One has to question just how right Brooks is when he says:

“Once, gay culture was erroneously associated with bathhouses and nightclubs. Now, the gay and lesbian rights movement is associated with marriage and military service. Once the movement was associated with self-sacrifice, it was bound to become popular.”

It’s frustrating to me that the fight for those “mainstream” things does tend to eclipse other equally important issues. Why aren’t we talking about Bradley Manning, arguably an LGBT hero who has been treated cruelly and violently because he’s queer?

Why is there silence from our advocacy groups on his cause? Is it because Manning challenges the prevailing power structure to which we are now more fully admitted, literally with the repeal of DADT? If Bush or Romney were president, would HRC or GLAAD or whoever be making more noise about our LGBT brother? Where's the outcry on HIV criminalization?

I am often one of those who fear that the fight for marriage equality presents problems for our community’s unique contribution to humanity. The lawyer in me won’t give up on the simple fact that the Constitution indeed requires equal treatment under the law, so marriage rights should be fought for and secured.

But critiquing the patriarchal institution of marriage and the current movement’s overemphasis on military solutions and militarism in general from a queer (or gay or lesbian or transgender) perspective must not be lost. If it does get lost, then Brooks will end up being right, not because we’ve surrendered our freedoms, but because we’ve forgotten who we are and our capacity to liberate culture on many levels.

JIM MORRISON is host of HereTV's political talk show For & Against. New episodes premiere this coming week.

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