The Amaranthine Sacrarium Journal

ecofeminist. metacostal. unapologetically queer femme.

Why I am morally opposed to marriage

June 04, 2018 | Current affairs

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in favor of the cakeshop, 7-2 with dissents from Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, primarily on the basis of technicality and inflammatory comments made by members of Colorado's anti-discrimination body. 

For one, as someone who believes in freedom of artistic expression and freedom of religion, I understand the points raised by the cakeshop. The case could have been fought on any other context, for example, a Jehovah's Witness artist refusing to take a commissioned work that promotes Halloween or Christmas, or a Quaker copywriter refusing a client whose business glorifies the military.

As someone who is in the creative industry myself, I would be rather wary of my creative talent and my name attached to something that goes counter to my values. In America, freedom is either for everyone or for no one. I respect the faith-based values of those who I disagree with, as long as they respect mine. 

Having said, this ruling is a wake-up call for the assimilationist white middle-class gay lobby.

I have opposed same-sex marriage (or, more precisely, the gay lobby's obsession with it) because it primarily promotes the middle-class interests and largely it is about the financial benefits a legal marriage confers in the areas of property rights, taxation, and estate planning -- a capitalist interest. In the meantime, the gay lobby failed to address or direct their money and energy on the life-and-death issues faced by queer youth, working-class and welfare-dependent queer folks, and queer immigrants: rampant unemployment, poverty, and homelessness; violent hate crimes; suicides; and discriminations in life's basic needs such as housing and employment. In light of this, same-sex marriage was rather a first-world problem.

The early gay liberation movement, in solidarity with the feminist and racial justice movements of its time, called for an abolition of marriage and family. They saw patriarchally-constructed ideas of monogamy, family, and marriage as necessarily oppressive, being "contracts of exploitations and male dominance" which led to a creation of sex-based roles and stereotypes. (See Unpacking Queer Politics by Sheila Jeffreys). The right-wing naturally reacted to the gay liberation movement with hostility, rightfully pointing out that the gay liberation was anti-family. This changed in the 1980s, amidst America's return to conservative values embodied by Ronald Reagan, when the white, middle-class gay and lesbian activists chose assimilationist approaches to market themselves as "just a normal American" whose only difference happens to be whom they love and what they do in bed. Many white (cisgender) gays and lesbians conformed to the prevailing social norms of their time, joined the property-owning class and the employing class, and naively thought of their economic advancement as a progress and liberation. At the same time, however, the white, middle-class gay and lesbian organizations threw under the bus the BIPOC, immigrant, working-class, low-income, disabled, and gender-non-conforming queer folks.

Marriage, as I have come to a conclusion, must be abolished. Weddings are tragicomical tributes to one of the greatest lies in human society, filled with symbols that are straight from the days when men owned their wives as though they are chattels. Monogamy necessarily creates a condition for one's exclusive possession of another human being, a hierarchy in human relations, and destruction of human freedom and agency.

A standard American wedding ceremony reenacts a commercial transaction in which a female body is sold by her father to the would-be husband. Symbolic elements and gestures such as wedding rings (branding of ownership), "now you may kiss the bride" (the clergyman issues permission to a man to kiss his new possession), and "now I declare you a man and his wife," are merely whitewashed slave sales. No self-respecting feminists should take any part in this kind of theater, and no self-respecting feminists should have a husband. It doesn't really matter if they think their marriages are "egalitarian."  

And considering the statistics, wedding vows are lies (roughly one-third of all marriages end in divorce). If anyone really believes in the Bible (Matt. 5:33-37), "Let your yes be yes and no be no." Wedding vows become lies when they even draft a prenuptual agreement.

The quest for same-sex marriage was a quest for assimilationism and pandering to the neoliberal and social conservative forces.

I am morally opposed to marriage and I call for its total abolition.

Marriage and love have nothing in common; they are as far apart as the poles; are, in fact, antagonistic to each other. No doubt some marriages have been the result of love. Not, however, because love could assert itself only in marriage; much rather is it because few people can completely outgrow a convention. There are to-day large numbers of men and women to whom marriage is naught but a farce, but who submit to it for the sake of public opinion. At any rate, while it is true that some marriages are based on love, and while it is equally true that in some cases love continues in married life, I maintain that it does so regardless of marriage, and not because of it.

On the other hand, it is utterly false that love results from marriage. On rare occasions one does hear of a miraculous case of a married couple falling in love after marriage, but on close examination, it will be found that it is a mere adjustment to the inevitable. Certainly the growing-used to each other is far away from the spontaneity, the intensity, and beauty of love, without which the intimacy of marriage must prove degrading to both the woman and the man.

Marriage is primarily an economic arrangement, an insurance pact. It differs from the ordinary life insurance agreement only in that it is more binding, more exacting. Its returns are insignificantly small compared with the investments. In taking out an insurance policy one pays for it in dollars and cents, always at liberty to discontinue payments. If, however, woman’s premium is a husband, she pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life, “until death doth part.” Moreover, the marriage insurance condemns her to life-long dependency, to parasitism, to complete uselessness, individual as well as social. Man, too, pays his toll, but as his sphere is wider, marriage does not limit him as much as woman. He feels his chains more in an economic sense.

-- Emma Goldman, "Marriage and Love" (excerpt).