Beyond Marriage. Gay or Otherwise.

Today the State of Washington ruled that the state’s “defense of marriage act” did not violate the state constitution. Many people will try to compare the ruling to the recent NY ruling, but they are really dissimilar.

The only comparisons to be made between the two is that both courts agreed that it was up to legislatures of those two states to change the laws governing marriage. But that is about the end of the

The New York State ruling was really very mean spirited. It basically statted that because heterosexual (well, at least 1man/1woman households) were in such state of disarray that the state thought to allow same-sex marriage would be to further undermine a crimbling institution, and we should be doing more to support (presumably) hetero marriages.

The state of Washington’s ruling was much more nuanced a decision. It read:

“In reaching this conclusion, we have engaged in an exhaustive constitutional inquiry and have deferred to the legislative branch as required by our tri-partite form of government. Our decision accords with the substantial weight of authority from courts considering similar constitutional claims. We see no reason, however, why the legislature or the people acting through the initiative process would be foreclosed from extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples in Washington.” Read the full decision here. Read the press release here.

Now many of you who have read “Is Gay Marriage Anti-Black?” are probably wondering, “Why the hell do you care about this?”

I guess that’s fair. My answer is twofold. While I personally do not care to get married, and have my own opinions about it as an institution, I do make a distinction between that and homophobic legislation. The other thing is, I am in full support of people being able to define their relationships and families for themselves, and people being able to have some sort of reciprocal benefits to determine beneficiaries, hospital visits, power-of-attorney, etc., without having to be married, or without the relationship needing to be monogamous, or even romantic or sexual.

It is for this reason last April I accepted an invitation to work with a group of LGBTQ(etc.) who had been writing, speaking, or organizing around the marriage issue (or critiquing the institution itself). We spent the weekend offering our thoughts, critiques, vision and strat and working towards a broader more inclusive vision of what work around domestic partner/civil union/reciprocal benefits/marriage work could look like that would move us toward a vision of, well, justice. The fruits of our labor have just been released into the world–with a statement of that vision, some strategy for folks in the marriage movement, and a place for individuals & organizations to sign on to that vision. The website is Beyond Marriage. I welcome your thoughts and feedback, as we see this document not as a complete, finite thing, but a living breathing document for people to use in whatever way makes sense, in whatever communities they wish to use it.

This was important for me, who people often accuse (and sometimes rightfully so) of being full of critique but offering no solutions. Sometimes I don’t think there is a solution (not an easy one, anyhow) to many of the issues I write/lecture about, but I think I can stand behind the spirit of this work.

So go read, forward it to friends, post the LINK on your blog(s), and get back to me.

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