This week, here in Michigan, there are hearings about marriage equality. The couple that is at the center is really using the issue of adoption and family to move their case forward, and I will tell you that the headlines on NPR have been upsetting–they are all about if homes headed by same sex couples are (and I quote) “less stable.” Arden yells at the radio. One day, he suggested that “they just ask the kids. We KNOW.” Amen to that, my sweet boy. And, as I said to one of my classes as we discussed how power is at play in different ways in different contexts (my intro to ed students who are secondary majors are reading Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and totally totally all in. They are amazing.), no matter what I do to break down power between student and teacher in our college classroom, the nature of the structure ensures that, because I give the grade, I always have the most. But, when your family or your life is being discussed as a thing that is up for vote, it is a completely powerless feeling. Truth.
On the other hand, I could not be more over the marriage equality debate. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but holy hell. The amount of money going into this is ridiculous. If LGBT folks gave as much money toward ensuring that queer kids are safe at school, and have equal access to education, and that all LGBT folks have equal access to housing and employment, to economic justice, and on and on, I feel like the lives of all of us would be vastly improved. We were asked to come in for a picture and provide a quote by our town’s resource center, and we had fun coming up with the quote. Drafts: “Marriage equality: what happens when cis wealthy white gay men start a movement.” “We support marriage equality because when it happens, we can finally get to the real issues in the LGBT movement.” “We support marriage equality, but know that no marriage, gay or straight, can equal our awesomeness.” The one that most captures our feelings: “we believe in marriage equality within a more nuanced conversation about what should be the most important work in the LGBT movement. It is not our top priority, but to not support it would be problematic.” We settled on “We support #MarriageEquality because all #families–including ones that look like ours–should be supported and treated equally under the law.” We don’t tweet, but someone else put those hastags in for us. Anyway. I am proud to be a visible part of the community, and I do support marriage equality. I just wish we could think about those who don’t have access to the kinds of spaces that give them the power of voice, and put equal or (really) more money into the causes that would improve the lives of those who will continue to be marginalized after the marriage equality situation is settled (which it will be, duh.).
I’m editing to add a link to a live blog (http://live.freep.com/Event/Closing_arguments_in_Michigan_same-sex_marriage_trial) of the closing arguments today. They are powerful. I was thinking about one reason that I’m frustrated that marriage equality has become the language of the LGBT movement. In my OTHER class (not the one mentioned above), a student said that, as teachers, they will be employees of the government, and if the government says that gay marriage is illegal, how can they talk about families with gay parents or talk about gay issues in their classrooms? I took a hugely deep breath and said, “when Jim Crow was legal, did people–teachers–take a stand against it? did people take a stand against the illegality of interracial marriage? They did. Likewise, just because gay parents aren’t legally married, are there kids with gay parents in classrooms? Are there gay kids, or kids who will later identify as LGBT, in classrooms? Indeed.” The marriage equality movement has given people an out, in a way. It’s interesting.