There is a lot of hullabaloo about gay marriage in recent days, mainly because of the decision by the Supreme Court that it would not hear appeals from states defending their bans on gay marriage. Cliff Weathers claimed that this ruling would allow marriage in eleven more states, meaning that 30 states in the US currently allow gay marriage.
Based on this, it is no surprise that Scott Hamilton, the executive director of the Cimarron Alliance Equality Center, would claim that the “excitement in the [LGBTQ+] community is extraordinary. We have some individuals of course who have been waiting decades for this, and they’re anxious to get married just as quickly as they can find a judge to do it.”
This excitement is somewhat questionable, considering, as professor Suzanne Goldberg pointed out, “an explanation for the Court’s cert. denial does not address the depressing result for many same-sex couples who had hoped for an end to the harms they suffer by being treated as legal strangers in their home states,” nor does the ruling end “the suffering of same-sex couples who live in places where they are prevented from marrying or having their marriages recognized.”
In a pro-marriage piece in The Atlantic, Garrett Epps declared: “I don’t see how today’s decision doesn’t signal that even within the Court, the fight over same-sex marriage is over.”
While Epps was talking about gay marriage within the courts, it is important to consider not only if the fight for the extension of the franchise of marriage to (mainly) gays and lesbians is over but why it needs to fought at all.
As I wrote earlier this year, most of the gay mainstream groups are “professional, corporatist, and (mostly) liberal” and they fight for issues including “adoption, hate crimes, workplace discrimination, gay marriage, immigration, discrimination in schools, families, and health, among others,” but they have a major focus on two specific causes: anti-discrimination laws and gay marriage.
This article will focus on the cause of gay marriage since I’ve already written about the issues with anti-discrimination laws like ENDA in the past. Secondly, considering the myriad of issues queers, trans* people, intersex, homosexuals, lesbians and others in the community of gender, sexual and radical diversity, the evaluation of marriage to be a top issue of the gay rights movement needs to be fundamentally questioned and debated.
Sherry Wolf, the self-described socialist and LGBT activist, has defended the fight for gay marriage time and time again.
In an article titled, “the unapologetic case for gay marriage,” Wolf argued that, “the conclusion by some to stand aside or even oppose the nascent explosion of outrage demanding gay marriage is misguided.”
She further wrote that marriage itself is “a civil right” but that “Socialists should neither advocate monogamy nor polyamory … these are personal decisions for individuals and couples to decide for themselves” and believing in an almost a contradictory sense that “Leftists ought to stand for the freedom to choose any consensual sexual arrangement, including marriage.”
At the end of her essay, she writes that “the left shouldn’t hand over the strategy and tactics for this fight to corporatist Democratic Party-dominated gay groups” and that it should “stand with the thousands of angry and surprisingly confident activists.”
In another article, Wolf criticizes someone who says that there is a good reason people should be wary of marriage, writing that “I say that the left must stand unapologetically in defense of the right to same-sex marriage … despite our critiques of the state, religion and monogamy” since in our current society “same-sex marriage challenges homophobic institutions and ideas, and would be a victory for lesbians and gays.”
While there are other opinions I could cite other than Wolf’s, she is a perfect example of someone who stands for the expansion of the marriage franchise and can’t accept any critique of such a franchise. Her idea that the whole left should stand for one cause, like marriage, without apology is completely and utterly absurd as it denies that there should be a diversity of opinion. As a result, this idea is fundamentally dangerous.
The article that Wolf criticizes is by Graham Shaw and hence, it is important to discuss.
In the article, Shaw writes that “it is simultaneously important to respect people’s wariness around the notion of marriage” and that “capitalism necessitates a construction of gender and sexuality norms … [since] power relations in our society make it necessary for the construction of these norms.” 
He also explains that “the concern over assimilation into straight culture is understandable because it has been created in a way that denies a whole layer of society access to certain rights” and it is “understandable that anyone who identifies in a way that falls outside of the norm could … have an inherent mistrust for the structures in a society” which includes marriage.
Shaw concludes by saying that marriage should exist for all people, a point that Wolf ignores in describing the article, writing that “it is also absolutely crucial to recognize people’s mistrust of institutions used in the process of the construction of the “other” and people’s legitimate concerns around trusting that system.”
I believe that Shaw is right and he was in fact, defended by someone who supports gay marriage. If we want to counter oppression and domination, then those who being oppressed and dominated should be listened to.
I could go on and describe other articles about gay marriage that focus on conservatives wanting to “control the sex lives of the American people,” a review of a book about unmarried couples, and an article purporting to disprove myths about gays and wealth. It is clear, to bring come back to the question proposed by the title of this article, that the fight for marriage is not over. After all, there is a so-called “marriage market” as Pew Research Center calls it, weirdly enough.
For the gay and lesbian community, marriage is literally a market.
As the Shanghai Times, a Chinese newspaper that is the mouthpiece of the Chinese authoritarian government, said, “getting married in America has always been big business, but with same-sex unions becoming more accepted, big-name companies want to get the word out that they are ‘gay friendly.’”
In an article for AlterNet, Lynn Stuart Parramore writes that marriage itself is a “boon to the whole economy,” generating millions of dollars, and it brings jobs. While the article is supportive of gay marriage, Parramore does note that “powerful corporate executives, with their armies of lobbyists and outsized influence” push for gay marriage, meaning that “social change looks acceptable, even desirable.”
This is somewhat disturbing. What Parramore writes is confirmed by the facts in some states: in Indiana, “corporate heavyweights Eli Lilly and Co. and Cummins” opposed an amendment that banned gay marriage; in New York, gay marriage could benefit the state’s tourism industry and that it could “create $311 million in increased revenue and economic activity during the next three years” resulting in an uptick in business for therapists, counselors, lawyers, and others.
Even the repeal of DOMA meant that hoteliers, caterers and wedding cake bakers in San Diego all gained, since its repeal meant more business for them.
On a nationwide scale, gay marriage benefits numerous industries such as wedding tourism, manufacturers of SUVs and Minivans, insurance companies, big oil companies, real estate and home improvement companies, and divorce lawyers, along with government coffers and companies in “nearly every sector of the economy.” As a result, it is no shocker that Starbucks, J.C. Penny, Target, Mondelez International, Apple, Facebook, Google, and many others have argued that banning gay marriage hurts their profits.
In a pro-marriage article on the financial site, The Motley Fool, one writer argues for a “financial case to be made [for] marriage equality,” noting that leaders of Google, GroupOn, Morningstar, Exelon, Hyatt Hotels, Orbitz, and others argued that gay marriage needed to be implemented in Illinois because it “helps businesses attract a broader range of employees, which, in turn, helps companies better connect with a diverse customer base.”
The article also noted that General Mills, Nike, Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Starbucks “have issued supportive statements or donated money to marriage equality advocacy groups.”
In a way, this is why someone like Yasmin Nair is justified in arguing, whether you agree with her or not, that “marriage is part of a larger neoliberal enterprise, a greater system of privatization, a state of things where people, increasingly, must enter into private contracts like marriage in order to gain the most basic benefits.”
In part 2: buying and selling the gay & lesbian identity and marriage in Egypt’s New Kingdom.
 In an article on Truthdig, radical writer Scott Tucker wrote that “the outright refusal of marriage is a principled position that commands respect. Especially since we do not live in a society which bears any resemblance to a social democracy.”
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