Partly out of necessity and partly out of desire, we have built cultures and communities independent of the straight world, developing and adopting our own creative alternatives: chosen families, open relationships, multi-parent families and domestic partnerships, just to name a few.
Many feel that marriage is an assimilation step, which they want to resist, especially because the feminist critique of marriage is alive and well in Canada.
“Many queers regard marriage as an oppressive patriarchal institution and have no interest in participating in it,” [Lesbian lawyer barbara] findlay notes. “My partner and I, for example, decided that we would not marry unless there was an important political reason to do so. As my partner says, ‘We’ve been living in sin for too long to change now!'”
For anti-assimilationists, same-sex marriage represents a reform movement that seeks to prove that queers are ‘just like everyone else.’ But many of us are not like everyone else – and unapologetically so.
Another distinction between different- and same-sex couples’ approach to marriage stems from the influence of the extended family:
Heterosexuals rarely consider the cultural aspects in their decision to marry and they have more social and family pressures to marry. Queers rarely have these pressures and many are discouraged from getting married from both family and friends.
While some people are still excited about the prospect of marriage, an option that has been closed to them until recently, their excitement is tinged with matrimania and scholars caution not to assume that now homophobia is a thing of the past.
I agree with Deri’s assessment of marriage in a cultural and legal context:
Personally, I follow the classic feminist argument: challenge the institution while supporting the decisions made by individuals.
While I fully support same-sex marriage for those who choose it, I believe that the more progressive political approach is for the individual to be the basis of social organization instead of the couple.
This means giving all people social security, guaranteed income, health benefits, child care, and parental leave, irrespective of their marital status.
A culture that values the individual instead of the couple as the base unit would offer more support for singlehood and single parenting, for starters.
I’d like to see more information, resources and support for all forms of relationships: single, polyamorous, coupled, friendship, chosen family or whatever our queer hearts can dream up.
We are not missing examples of same-sex married couples, we are in need of alternatives to marriage that reaffirm each and every one of us independent of our marital status.