Monday, January 5, 2009

Superlatively Queer Comedians Against Gay Marriage: Two Case Studies

Over at Ladyblog, I've thrown up a refutation of one fallacy underlying same-sex marriage (short version: gay marriage makes it harder to acknowledge gender differences, and talking about gender in our post-feminist climate is already hard enough), but there's another battle that needs fighting. The psychology of your average pro-SSM straight person goes something like this: Marriage is society's way of saying that a particular romantic relationship is awesome and important; I recognize that gay relationships are awesome and important; therefore, they should be allowed to marry. Step Two is fine, but Step One is fundamentally wrong.

Marriage isn't a stamp of approval; it's an institution designed to pressure people into making difficult but necessary (and, at the end of the day, fulfilling) choices. It's not society's way of saying something about relationships; it's about doing something to them.

Consider this joke from lesbian comedian Lynn Lavner:
There are 6 admonishments in the Bible concerning homosexual activity . . . [and] 362 concerning heterosexual activity. I don't mean to imply by this that God doesn't love straight people, only that they seem to require a great deal more supervision.
Or this from Quentin Crisp, who could never hold down any job except "Stately Old Homo of England":
Since people persist in getting married, what would your advice be to them?

Do not expect that you will be happy. Do not enter a marriage thinking this s the way in which I will be happy. If you do that you are making use of your partner. You must enter into a marriage knowing that you are sacrificing yourself. You must say, "I feel I have all sorts of things to give to a relationship and I will find somebody to whom I can give them. I only expect to die fulfilled—not happy—that I have done what little I could do."

So it is possible to be fulfilled in marriage?

If your view is that your style—your image—is to be self-sacrificing, and if you feel you have an infinite capacity for it. You may think: Will I go to India to feed the starving, or to Crimea to bind up the wounds of the injured—or will I just get married?
Marriage involves considerable self-sacrifice, but the things that make all that self-sacrifice worth it for straight couples (i.e. children, monogamy, the virtues that go along with being forced to stay with someone who, because of gender differences, you will always be somewhat baffled by) don't apply to gay couples. That's what both Lavner and Crisp are trying to say: Straight people have more sacrifices to make in their romantic relationships, and so we require "a great deal more supervision."

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