Posted May 4, 2009
I just came across a post on one of my favorite feminist blogs, www.feministing.com, discussing how the New Hampshire state legislature passed same sex marriage and voted down a bill on transgender rights on the same day.
I fully support same sex marriage, but I think in some ways, the behavior of the New Hampshire state legislature — voting same sex marriage up and trans rights down — is consistent.
I am convinced that the vast majority of pro-gay marriage folks who came out for the prop 8 demos want to support a pro-queer, anti-racist movement for justice.
However, I think the New Hampshire case suggests that those of us who want a truly just world should make sure that the same sex marriage movement is opening up possibilities for further social change (ie universal health care, respect for transgender people) rather than closing them.
A case in point: I just came across an old (2003) report from the Brookings Institution — a liberal thinktank — discussing “behavior based strategies for combating poverty.”
According to Brookings, in order to avoid poverty, “the youngest generation” should “delay childbearing until marriage [and] work full-time to support any children they chose to bear outside marriage.”
Huh? I guess poor women’s decision not to marry is the source of their poverty, not this country’s dysfunctional health care system, crumbling public schools or lack of good jobs.
In any case, this is an example of how marriage can be used punitively against poor women who have sex with men, and we need to find a way to make sure the same sex marriage movement takes this into account.
What do other people think about this? Can we have a sex marriage movement that takes into account the lives of trans people and poor people in a substantial way? Or should we just focus on winning gay marriage and then move on to the next thing?