Gay Marriage is so Neoliberal

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I felt the need to talk this one out via my blog. It has to do with a combination of Obama’s tacit acceptance of same-sex marriage and a lot of other news events

One thing that occurred was with the United Methodist General Conference. Many of my friends were at the conference or following it closely. The thing that consistently appeared on my facebook feeds were about their disappointment in not including queer people in the church. At the same time, the general conference voting against divestment from companies that build the equipment that help perpetuate Israeli state violence against Palestinians. I am sure that a few words were said on the latter but most of the discussion was about the former issue.  For a Jewish perspective on the failure to end divestment, you can read here.

To be honest, I was angered that more reaction was given on a clause than on divestment from businesses that actively participate in the Israeli government’s oppression of Palestinians. To be fair, I think about Israel a lot as a Jew and I think about Palestine a lot and that the state of Israel really signifies the failure of the Jewish ethical tradition (not only the rabbinic tradition but also the philosophical tradition). I am also not Methodist, so it may not be up to me to judge the internal affairs of a church with which I do not participate (even if their decisions indirectly affect us all). So the human rights abuses by Israelis against Palestinians is something that I follow probably a lot more than most Methodists.

This kind of reaction is perhaps why every time we talk about someone supporting same-sex marriage, I roll my eyes. Or, I get angry even if the people posting the comments are well-intentioned (and they are definitely well intentioned). For some reason, focusing on the same-sex marriage debate got it in our heads that it is the main queer issue. Queer people are everywhere and in every strata of the societies which we live. To be more transparent, queer people’s houses are being bulldozed through the money the United Methodist Church invests in Caterpillar. My point is not to condemn the United Methodist Church, nor my friends who have spoken passionately about including queer people in their church, but really to see the failure of talking about certain issues as somehow meriting the “queer issue” status while other issues are somehow not. I think this is a systemic issue. In reaction to Obama’s approval, one of my friend’s on facebook said, “this is all nice, but where was the community support when CeCe was on trial?”

Marriage has become increasingly important, as neoliberal policies continue to dismantle the already small welfare state and privatize and deregulate our government. Marriage becomes the means of getting healthcare, affording housing, getting a green-card, so on and so forth. In a way, it’s ironic that those most staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage are also the people who supported the policies that helped bring about its genesis. Rather than talking merely about marriage, why are we not also discussing a public option for healthcare? It’s not that radical of a position, considering the majority of American citizens actually support a public option. Why are we not talking about homelessness in queer communities? Or housing discrimination? Or trans rights? Why aren’t we advocating more fiercely for more inclusive immigration policies? Or why aren’t we talking about the fact that the marriage debate is really about notions of respectability (the only way for queer citizens to be respected is to look respectable) and why aren’t we challenging those terms of respectability? Why are we focusing on what Obama has said when our foreign policy  supports the bulldozing of Palestinian housing? Or why aren’t more of us standing in solidarity with CeCe in her unjust imprisonment?

I guess these are the things I think about when I hear news about a politician’s views on same-sex marriage finally “evolving” to support it.

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2 thoughts on “Gay Marriage is so Neoliberal

  1. Sir, I wholehearted agree. My guilt should probably speak to that as much as anything.

    Admittedly the Israel/Palestine thing continues to elude me, mostly due to my own willful ignorance, I’ll admit, but the general point is well taken.

    Being a Methodist, I have to return to the topic of General Conference for a second because I think you started to hit on something that I know I was struggling with up until the process began. The Love Your Neighbor folks and other fine people were definitely most heavily focused on the discussion of same-sex marriage, amongst other things, but what we haven’t even started talking about is the much more generic way in which our own Book of Discipline talks about not merely sexuality but gender as well – namely in a very polar way. We have a few lovely statements about how women are free these days to do whatever they want to – a shocking revelation indeed! – but otherwise the language is pretty cut and dry. There are dudes and there are ladies, and that’s awesome and no one should be counted out because of their sex. And while I know we have enough difficulty taking a single step in the right direction, I can’t help hoping I’m not the only one a little miffed about this.

    Respectability DEFINITELY needs to be on our docket, but perhaps if we can make some more noise about the reality of spectrums of gender and sexuality, that may potentially be a boon as well.

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