The recent legalization of same-sex marriage in New York has once again sparked heavy debate between pro and anti-gay marriage forces all across the world. The most vocal opponents have included religious fundamentalist groups and Conservative political leaders, so it may seem surprising that some of the harshest critics are, in fact, some of our own. Within the gay community, the New York Senate’s decision to approve same-sex marriage has been met with indifference and even outright disapproval. Stephen Emery of Vancouver LGBT podcast Beyond the Ghetto once wrote:
"I think marriage is a heterosexual religious institution -just as much about ownership, property rights, and taxation as a public declaration of love- that the LG community should never have jumped on the bandwagon for…I really don't need this heterosexist institution to prove that my love of a man or a few men is as valid as anyone else's."1
Call me old-fashioned, but I must confess that I, not unlike many straight females on this planet, have always pictured myself one day being married to the man of my dreams. However, unlike what has been suggested in Mr. Emery’s sentiment, I did not enter into a marital union to prove anything to anyone. It was a non-religious celebration of my love, a union validated by my government, affirming that my rights as a married individual, as well as my husband’s, would be granted under the law, in the exact same way as my straight married peers.
I’ve never thought of marriage as a heterosexist institution. In fact, the idea never even crossed my mind. There is nothing heterosexist about wanting to share your life with the person you love. It’s a desire shared by countless people, gay or straight, and a right no government or religion should ever deny.
For us gays to dismiss marriage as a heteroexclusive institution merely perpetuates the kinds of traditionalist views supported by the same religious groups and politicians who want to ban same-sex marriage. If we still believe these archaic views of human rights, then attitudes need to change. All people should be given the option to marry if they so wish, whether or not they would ever want to take such a step in their lives. Marriage is a celebration of love between two individuals, a love that is genderless. It isn’t a right that is reserved for any particular group, and it certainly isn’t a representation of anyone’s desire to conform to any heternormative views.