Missing the Bus
At first, I was very upset by last month’s announcement that Virginia will not be getting a visit form the HRC Equality Bus Tour. However, I calmed down and reflected on this announcement. I must have been suffering from abandonment issues with the preeminent national LGBT organization. They aren’t hitting all 50 states so was I suffering from “entitlement syndrome.” The other locations seem pretty worthwhile and possible more downtrodden than Virginia. A lot of the discussions on the news revolved around to the topic of same-sex marriage. This got me thinking about what a same-sex marriage campaign in Virginia would look like…I didn’t go very far.
I reflected on some facts about Virginia:
- Only two universities include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in their non-discrimination policy
- No statewide workplace non-discrimination policy
- People were in an uproar over a single rainbow flag
- No statewide hate crime policy
- Cuccinelli & Marshall are still in office
There are a lot more pressing matters than same-sex marriage that need to be addressed. A marriage movement stirs up a lot of irk. We lose allies as folks attack religious institutions, people of color, persons living with HIV, etc. The immediate results from marriage are cheaper insurance, better child protection and some other tax benefits.
Aren’t there more pressing matters for queers to address? How about finally passing a work place non-discrimination bill so we can pay for the wedding? Or passing a comprehensive anti-bullying policy so that children can survive school and get marriage? How about making health care affordable so folks don’t have to get married just to visit a doctor? How about finding a cure for AIDS so that our people can stay alive and live without fear and discrimination? How about we ensure students find college affordable and can take classes in Queer Studies? How about ending censorship of queer subject in libraries?
Marriage equality is not the silver bullet to all of these issues. Instead it acts as a distraction of the more pressing matters that are demoralizing, hurting, subjugating, and killing queers. The millions spent on a marriage campaign could go towards better community development causes like queer youth homeless shelters, community centers, scholarships, research endowments, HIV prevention activities, job stimulation, suicide hotlines, or a non-discrimination policy campaign. I don’t even see why we think the state should decide who gets married? Shouldn’t we be arguing for privacy and depowering the government’s power to sanction marriage?
Enacting a workplace non-discrimination policy would prove more beneficial as it creates better coalitions with worker unions, feminists, immigration groups, capitalists, communists, and even religious groups. Even Jerry Falwell said that civil rights for workers should include queers. Maybe after we get all of these other problems solved marriage won’t be a concern or a fight. Or maybe I underestimated its power as a silver bullet?
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
“…local governments are at the forefront of our fight for equality. Unfortunately, our opponents have witnessed this progress too…”October 24, 2016
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