Moving Beyond 'No on Prop 8'

This year, California's ballot campaigns "Yes on Prop. 2" and "No on Prop. 8" both received a great deal of national attention. As such, both of these campaigns represented and worked to frame the national priorities of nonhuman animal advocacy and queer advocacy, respectively. Unfortunately, both campaigns have also worked to establish narrow agendas and goals for nonhuman animal advocacy and queer advocacy – agendas and goals that increasingly move towards accommodating the status quo of human supremacy and heteropatriarchy.

Regarding "No on Prop. 8," Dean Spade and Crag Willse say, "I Still Think Marriage is the Wrong Goal," and remind us of the privileged and oppressive structure of marriage. In their statement following the passage of Proposition 8, they write:

Current conversations about Prop 8 hide how the same-sex marriage battle has been part of a conservative gay politics that de-prioritizes people of color, poor people, trans people, women, immigrants, prisoners and people with disabilities. Why isn't Prop 8's passage framed as evidence of the mainstream gay agenda's failure to ally with people of color on issues that are central to racial and economic justice in the US?

Let's remember the politics of marriage itself. The simplistic formula that claims "you're either pro-marriage or against equality" makes us forget that all forms of marriage perpetuate gender, racial and economic inequality. It mistakenly assumes that support for marriage is the only good measure of support for LGBT communities. This political moment calls for anti-homophobic politics that centralize anti-racism and anti-poverty. Marriage is a coercive state structure that perpetuates racism and sexism through forced gender and family norms. Right wing pro-marriage rhetoric has targeted families of color and poor families, supported a violent welfare and child protection system, vilified single parents and women, and marginalized queer families of all kinds. Expanding marriage to include a narrow band of same-sex couples only strengthens that system of marginalization and supports the idea that the state should pick which types of families to reward and recognize and which to punish and endanger.

We still demand a queer political agenda that centralizes the experiences of prisoners, poor people, immigrants, trans people, and people with disabilities. We reject a gay agenda that pours millions of dollars into campaigns for access to oppressive institutions for a few that stand to benefit.

We are being told marriage is the way to solve gay people's problems with health care access, immigration, child custody, and symbolic equality. It does not solve these problems, and there are real campaigns and struggles that would and could approach these problems for everyone, not just for a privileged few. Let's take the energy and money being put into gay marriage and put it toward real change: opposing the War on Terror and all forms of endless war; supporting queer prisoners and building a movement to end imprisonment; organizing against police profiling and brutality in our communities; fighting attacks on welfare, public housing and Medicaid; fighting for universal health care that is trans and reproductive healthcare inclusive; fighting to tax wealth not workers; fighting for a world in which no one is illegal.

I agree with Spade and Willse and don't have much more to add, except encouraging people to review the resources for further reading on their webpage.