May 9, 2012

Queer Issue: What is Marriage For?

With the recent announcement from President Obama, in which he endorsed marriage equality for same sex couples, the LGBTQ social networking scene just exploded with a the sort of rainbow collective joy that one might assume signalled the second coming of Christ.

However, I think this is as good a time as any to ask a question that rarely gets brought up: What purpose does state sanctioned marriage serve? That is, why should the state sanction specific types of relationships?

Consider the following possible reasons why the state might wish to sanction marriage:

In the united states, the first ammendment would appear to prevent the government from sanctioning *any* religious form of marriage whatsoever. If the state were to sanction marriage, it would have to do so with reasons that would be unrelated to religion.

Promote Sexual Monogamy
The government needs to stay the hell out of peoples' bedrooms. There is no bloody reason the state should care about the sexual activities that occur between consenting adults. Any questions?

Two (or more) people living together in the same dwelling and sharing resources, would (logically speaking) use fewer resources than if they lived separately. Therefore, it could be argued that it would benefit society on the whole, if more people lived together. Therefore, it would benefit society on the whole to promote relationships that encourage people living together.

Several problems with this. One is that it does not matter if the people involved are lovers or merely room-mates, they are still going to be using less resources regardless. The second is that, well what's the point of the government providing economic advantages to a situation that already comes with it's own economic incentives?

We often think that marriage means a better environment to raise kids in. I mean, obviously two people in a committed to raising a child(ren) are going to have an advantage over a single parent. Furthermore, given the whole "kids are the future of society" thing, it makes sense for society to provide benefits (such as tax breaks) to individuals who are raising kids.

But since single parents need more support over parents who are in committed relationships, it makes more sense for the government to provide more benefits to single parents, not less.

In short, it is difficult to find a reason for the state to sanction *any* marriage. In fact, it makes more sense for the state to provide additional benefits in some cases to adults who are single (if they are raising kids) than it does providing benefits to those who are in committed relationships.

While LGB advocates celebrate Obama's endorsement, they fail to ask what exactly is the purpose of even having state sanctioned marriage. I say leave marriage to the religious communities that wish to sanction it, leave the state out of it.

Ultimately, the queer community has bigger issues to pursue, such as seeking to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, dealing with homelessness (a problem which disproportionally affects lgbtq youth), or doing something as simple as passing GENDA in NY State. Marriage equality will benefit the wealthiest of the LGBTQ community, but will do little for those who need it the most.

Is this true equality?

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