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I think I finally worked out a good part of why the celebrations over yesterday's Supreme Court case is leaving me a bit cold.

First, because it's worth saying: marriage equality matters, a lot. I volunteered in a pediatric wing of a major cancer-specialty hospital, and I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to watch your child seriously ill and have people questioning your right to be there or approve treatments, or for that matter your partner. Or to have someone who hadn't seen your partner in years sweep in and make medical decisions because they were legally next of kin. There are other reasons why legal recognition of a relationship, equal recognition, matters so much. This is so obvious to me, mere formal equality in front of the law doesn't seem particularly exciting or inspiring to me because it's such a llow bar. Still important and good, though.

The problem is that slogan #LoveWIns. If you want to put a label on me (which I tend to resist), I'd probably fit most naturally under the asexual umbrella: I don't live my life structured around romance and romantic relationships, and I don't particularly feel their lack or want to fill that void. And when I hear that tagline, #LoveWins, what I hear is that love is such a crucial part of the good life, who are we to deny gay people the right to live openly with the one they love and with full legal privilege every other loving couple has, just because their genders are the same? The idea seems to be that a life with frustrated or unexpressed or un-legally recognized love is somehow a pale copy of its true potential.

And as an asexual that really bothers me. I think relationships matter, and that most people (even asexuals) have some kind of deep, life-orienting relationships in thier lives. In the asexual's case, it just probably won't be a romantic or sexual one. I mean, my next of kin right now is probably my birth family who I haven't lived near in years, and if I should God forbid be run over by a bus I don't really want him making deciisions about my care because they're not really a part of how I live my life now. I'd like to see laws and attitudes that would let me build a household with someone, and that wouldn't suppose two folks living together or emotionally invested together are only valid because they're in love that way. (Love comes in all kinds of varieties, but let's be honest about what folks mean when they say #LoveWins.)

The other issue is I think the slogan involves a kind of bait and switch. Lots of people support gay marriage less because they approve of LGBT sexuality or relationships, and more because they think it's not the government's business. It's coming more from a freedom and (formal) equality perspective than a this is love and love is good perspective. And that's a problem because that same reasoning can too easily be turned around to say "but why should the government be able to tell that woman running the bakery that she has to cater a gay wedding" or "but why should the Catholic Church-tied adoption agency have to violate their consciences and beliefs by placing children with gay married couples"? Because philosophically, Americans are crap when it comes to talking about freedom, and most people don't have the framework to explain why the first is good but not the second. It can't just be that those people are hateful. So saying this is all about love is not only disingenuous but also bound to lead to heartbreak and frustration over "religious liberty" issues, I think. Because it's setting up false expectations.

But that's tomorrow's problem, I guess. I'm willing to let LGBT supporters (of which I am one, obviously) have theiri day and deal with reality on Monday. The bigger problem for me is it feels like once again this is about people buying into this idea that romantic love is what makes life worth living. That either makes me angry or at a minimum leaves me feeling like a freak because I just don't want that. Ergo the shades of meh I feel about the whole reaction.

(To be clear: doesn't mean I'm not glad restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples is now unconstitutional in America. And it doesn't mean --while I'd be more than happy to have the conversation with people who aren't crazy about SSM being legal -- that I'm making that kind of argument when I say I'm not crazy about the way we're reacting to yesterday's news.)   


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2015 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post. As much as I welcome that the right to marry now is a civil right in the US, my one big hope is that we can finally move away from the way too narrow focus on marriage towards other issues. And I am kind of sick of hearing it repeated again and again that marriage is this one glorious union of commitment and love, implying that life-long friendships and companionships, sexual or not sexual are not. *grmbl*
Jun. 27th, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only one! And I know I probably wasn't. This is definitely good as far as it goes, but it feels incredibly narrow in its scope to me.

Interestingly, one of the most interesting approaches I've come across is in a book review summarizing the views of Eve Tushnet, a Catholic lesbian who's made waves for advocating gay celibacy lately. She's talked a lot about the importance of non-sexual relationships and the need to provide a framework that recognizes that. Of course, she's saying gay people should be looking for that rather than gay sexual relationships, which I don't approve of, but I find the idea of legal rights built around non-sexual relationships to be a really cool one that we should talk more about.
Jun. 27th, 2015 11:33 pm (UTC)
In a way I am hoping this is the "slippery slope" the conservatives fear: because I can see down the line a recognition of it being OK for people who are just friends being able to form legal households with rights to own property, have insurance together, share custody of kids without ever having a romantic element involved. Because you are right-- sexual love is not the only kind of love.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 28th, 2015 02:53 am (UTC)
I wondered if this might be too soon. The fact is there's a lot going on with me right now that means when I was inspired to write anything long and bloggish, I felt I had to seize it. A combination of 10-12 hour days and a touch of depression meant that if I tried to wait until a more opportune time, it probably would never have happened.

But I don't think I told people not to celebrate this. At least I didn't mean to. (See above re: fighting off depression; even with inspiration I was really struggling with word choice and focus and that kind of thing.) I do know that the way I relate to major events is thinking them through and expressing those thoughts, that I just don't feel comfortable reacting by being celebratory. It's just not me. I think of this kind of reaction as honoring the event, taking seriously what happened, of really engaging with it with my whole self. Of course other folks will react differently, and I'm fine with that.

I guess I do find it a bit presumptuous to be told I can't react in the way that comes most naturally to me in my own space. OTOH, on rereading it I can see how I came across as more negative in some places than I meant to, and I do apologize for that.
Jun. 28th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
I too would like to see marriage destabilized and decentralized in our culture. Yes, there are rights associated with marriage, and those rights should be open to same sex couples. But why are there so many rights associated with marriage? There are lots of people in this world who are unmarried for all kinds of reasons.
Jun. 28th, 2015 02:58 am (UTC)
I wish too that none romantic/sexual kinds of love were more celebrated and acknowledged.
Jun. 28th, 2015 12:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, you are definitely not alone in these sentiments. #lovewins bothers me endlessly because since the dawn of time people have been marrying for a zillion reasons other than romantic love. And that's perfectly okay (except when they're forced into it for the kingdom or sth, idk). It's just kind of ridiculous that this strange thing with strange benefits (marriage) can only happen between specific people, and equating same sex marriage to the almighty conquer of romantic love is just downright bizarre.
Jun. 29th, 2015 09:28 pm (UTC)
I'm not convinced that there should necessarily be benefits for marriage, or for having kids - e.g. tax benefits etc. I do think it is appropriate for everyone to have SOMEONE - possibly more than one person, depending - who is their go-to person in case of crisis like unexpected hospitalization, etc. At this time it seems to be socially agreed-on that said go-to person is the next of kin; spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Or further-off relation, sometimes. Unless you have a specific designated person with power of attorney or whatever, and sometimes even THAT doesn't do the trick. I happen to be married, and I have two living parents and a sibling, if it were to fall out that SO and I were both in an accident together and he couldn't be consulted, but... yeah. There are lots of other legitimate types of relationships than just marriage, whether it is opposite-sex or same-sex. Sharing a household with an unrelated person, who is not a romantic partner, long term, seems like it should be considered just as legitimate a connection. [/random thoughts on this]
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )



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