Closing the door behind you

or, Why Mama Schlomo isn’t the world’s loudest marriage equality advocate.

Hello my kittens:

Here's a free hug. You might need it for this.

Those of you that know me personally – or just those of you that follow this site – know that I have very strong and impassioned views on a great many things, with all of those views floating somewhere in the ether of liberal/progressive and/or socialist (in my opinion, small s) thought. I’m hanging somewhere way beyond the Democratic party, but I’ve frankly never, say, freed monkeys from a lab or thrown a pie at a politician. I believe firmly in non-violence and the equality of all people and peoples, and many if not all of my views can be extrapolated from those facts.

Having said that, my voice might on occasion seem a little tiny when it comes to the matter of marriage equality. Lots of us folks who see ourselves in the Q part of the alphabet along with a broader swath of feminists have made lots of cases about why marriage in general is bad, why marriage might not be good for queers, why we’re paying too much attention to marriage, et cetera, ad infinitum. I don’t have time to rehash those sentiments, and this isn’t what I want to talk about, anyway.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of gay marriage ‘cos y’all wanna close the door behind yourselves.

Closing the door behind you is a big motif in American politics. European immigrants to this country closed the door to someone else’s house behind themselves. Some particularly wily newcomers to America think they should be the absolutely last people allowed into the country – like son of Armenian immigrants Mark Krikorian who thinks he’s chill, but Jose Antonio Vargas should GTFO.

The president of our country has said that marriage is a matter to be decided by the states – even though interracial marriage was illegal in some states when his parents wed and it was a Supreme Court decision that overturned those ugly laws. Don’t let the Loving door hit ‘ya.

Now a lot of straight folks say an awful lot of messed-up shit about us when it comes to marriage equality. Here is a sampling from things which were said just this month:

“If the president believes that gays, lesbians and transsexuals are “our brothers and sisters,” why does he not also believe that “our brothers and sisters” include not only polygamists, but exhibitionists, the incestuous, coprophiliacs, necrophiliacs, urophiliacs and zoophiliacs (those who have sex with animals who are unable – or unwilling – to run away)? … Such presidential pandering to deadly-disease spreaders is surely a despicable means of trying to attract votes by an incumbent who will apparently do anything to try to win re-election.” – World Net Dailys White House correspondent Les Kinsolving (source: The Bilerico Project)

And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity.  If you think I’m exaggerating, within days of the passage of this bill, one major newspaper ran a flattering profile of a proponent of what was called “nonmonogamy.” Apparently, “nonmonogamy” is the idea that society is unrealistic to think that one man and one woman should remain faithful in marriage, and that openness to some infidelity should be the norm! – Archbishop Timothy Dolan (source: Think Progress)

I’ll tell you where this thing is going. Marriage will not only be the sanctity of marriage blurred and defiled, marriage in some parts of the earth will be outlawed. Marriage as an institution will be forbidden in parts of the earth as one of the Signs of the Times. The gay marriage agenda, which is rooted in the depths of Hell, this is not about love, this is deception. – International House of Prayer’s Mike Bickle (source: Right Wing Watch)

“They want access to the white picket fence so they can burn it down.” – Matt Barber (via Right Wing Watch)

The problem in all of this isn’t that bigots are being bigots. Bigots bigotting bigotedly is hardly news.

The problem is the way a lot of y’all gay folks be respondin’.

It’s perfectly all right to be offended when someone compares us to people who engage in sexual practices that demean the humanity (or, uh, zoomanity?) of others, often with the common thread of nonconsensuality. I know in my allegedly twisted heart that we have nothing in common with people who rape their children or have sex with animals or dead people.

But the pushback against these arguments, while some part of me might sympathize, almost never stops there.

Lots of gay people feel the need to indignantly shout “the fight for equality ends here! One man, one woman, two men, two women – but nothing else! Everything else is icky!”

And I’m afraid I just can’t follow y’all down that path.

It was announced in the wake of the New York marriage decision that the family profiled on the TLC series Sister Wives would be filing a lawsuit for the legal recognition of their marriage(s). And gay people got totally squicked out:

If queers support marriage equality, shouldn’t they also support marriage equality for adult women who want to marry men with more than one wife? In short, no, not really.

Here’s why: First, not all queers want marriage equality. In fact, a lot think that it’s just a privileged, heteronormative, waste of resources diverting our attention away from health care, gender equality, and other more important social issues.

Second, even though some queers are polyamorist, polygamy is not specifically a polyamorist or gay rights issue—it’s a sex rights issue. Sex rights battle include decriminalizing all sorts of “victimless” sex acts including legalized prostitution, repealing nudity censorship laws to foster healthier attitudes about sex and body image (in contrast to the orgiastic violence we see on regular TV broadcast), the decriminalized sale of sex toys (in Texas it’s illegal to call dildos “dildos”), access to condoms in prison, and contraceptives in public. Sex rights issues cut across the lines of sexual orientation.

Lots of straight and bisexual folks who practice polyamory can band together and fight in the political arena if polygamy means that much to them; let this be their fight, not ours. – Daniel Villareal of Queerty

Queerty lesbian commentator Romaine Hall took things to new heights by unilaterally deciding that no lesbian could ever want poly*ness, that gay dudes are whores who are never happy, and that being poly would make us even more second-class:

Now this is based on a bunch of gender stereotypes, I know, but this polygamy legalization idea really begs the question if it is for the benefit of men only. Lesbians sure as hell don’t want any part of this – we’d just go to a separatist commune and live off the land if we needed our own personal fan club. We already kind of have sister wives within our own friendship circles, as so frequently we associate with exes, exes of friends, exes of exes. Although I bet the household would manage their money better and meals potlucks would happen on the daily.

When it comes to gay men, they already seem to have a good grasp on the idea of multiple partners. I know a partnerships that seem to works where two men (a husband and a boyfriend) share one guy. How do they do it? The boyfriend lives across the street and the husband is kind of passive. For these kinds of polygamous relationships to work, there has to be sacrifice, and I’m not sure gays or lesbians are willing to give up any more than we already do as second class citizens. And as a gay woman? Forget about it. (source)

Hint: saying the thing you’re saying is dumb doesn’t make it less dumb.

This reminds me a lot of what I like to call the “at least I don’t suck cock/at least I don’t wanna cut mine off” LGB v. T clusterfuck screaming match. In this outrageously divisive syllogism, (stupid) [LGB] and [T] people view each other as dangerous extra weight bogging them down from reaching their own narrowly defined goals and jockey for approval with straight cisegnder people by knocking the other side down. To which many of us are repeatedly forced to respond, um, what about people who are L, G or B and T?

There is a huge overlapping wonderfulness among all queer communities, and no one’s going to get anywhere by pretending theirs are the only rights and concerns righty or concerny enough for respect and attention. And as an out and proud gay polyamorous person, I’m calling you out.

Yes, I have a horse in this race. Some of us don’t have the privilege of debating other people like offputting social issues. You’d think queer people would know what felt like.

You have no reasonable right to expect living above the law of your land, which is a compelling enough reason for me for no government to outlaw your way of life or love. The government has no legitimate interest in legislating whom I love or how many people I love. The same gut-churning arguments people make against LGBT people getting married (‘won’t someone please think of the children/God’s wrath’) are being thrown by LGBT people at polyamorous people and I find it galling.

Worse, you’re telling us – we, queer people who don’t cling to monogamy like the last lifeboat departing the Titanic – that we’re bad for marriage. When Dan Savage, who has discussed the benefits of selective non-monogamy within the context of his relationship talks about his own life, he gets:

But I take umbrage with the timing of your comments — even one of your readers made the same observation, and with feeding into the religious right’s pernicious meme that gays are sex fiends. AFA’s Bryan Fischer recently stated, “fidelity in same-​sex relationships is virtually unheard of,” and so, as you can imagine, your comments feed right into that bunk. – David Badash (source)

If my help in the fight for marriage equality isn’t welcome, I will take my energy elsewhere. But don’t you dare tell me my life is bad for the fight just because bigots exist. You can pretend you get to close the door behind you, but don’t you forget the history of that door slammin’.

And don’t you forget either the talented and intelligent people who would be working for marriage equality if the movement didn’t reek of its own bigotry.  You wanna help out? Stop throwing poly people under the bus. And maybe spread the word.

2 thoughts on “Closing the door behind you

  1. Thank you for this. As a mostly-straight poly person who has supported LGBT for years, it is good to hear from someone else who doesn’t think that the LGBT community is the only one who should have their rights recognized. When it comes to minority rights, I stand by Ben Franklin – “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

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