I've been reading QueerToday every week for almost a year. It wasn't until this weekend that I finally felt fed up. My specific complaint is with the most recent post, titled MassEquality Supports The War!. This statement, along with the rest of the post, is both nonsensical and misleading.
(Disclosure/disclaimer: Though I publish here pseudomymously as bat_dor, my name is Ruthie, and my day job is MassEquality's IT manager [everyone else does the important work; I just keep their computers running.] I am not an official spokesperson for MassEquality, and whenever I write on QuenchZine, I am speaking only for myself and not for my employer.)
First, let me make a statement that I had hoped was obvious, but bears restating: MassEquality exists to defend equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Massachusetts. Period.
Here's why it doesn't make sense to say that MassEquality supports the war: MassEquality's mission has nothing to do with foreign policy. Why would anyone even expect the organization to stake any position on the war? Again, MassEquality's entire raison d'être is same-sex marriage in this state. Iraq is outside the scope of the organization's interest.
There seems to be this expectation that MassEquality must represent every progressive, gay, queer, radical, leftist, or liberal person in the Commonwealth. And that's the larger mistake that QueerToday's authors seem to keep making. MassEquality does not purport to represent the queer community. Or the gay community. Or the Democrats. Or the young. Or the progressives. Or the liberals. Or [insert group here.] MassEquality represents its members -- people who, regardless of their own sexuality and politics and marital status, believe that people ought to be able to marry their significant other in Massachusetts, even if they are the same sex.
I always love telling MassEquality staff that I will not wear their stickers because I am queer.
I'm not straight, and for me, marriage encompasses the sort of relationship that I hope to find myself in someday. That said, I know that for many of my friends, marriage feels pretty damn heteronormative. And since being queer means partially or totally rejecting heteronormativity, I can totally understand how someone who identifies strongly as 'queer' could feel uncomfortable supporting an organization dedicated to protecting civil marriage rights. I respect the right of the authors of QueerToday to not support MassEquality's mission. I just wish they would do it more honestly; I wish they'd say, "It's not that we don't think same-sex partners shouldn't be able to get married in the eyes of the government -- it's that we don't think the government should be marrying ANYONE."
Of course, that begs the classic progressivism versus radicalism question: is it better to work to find a place for non-straight people within the system of civil marriage, or is the system so flawed that the only solution is to throw it out entirely? I know how I'd answer, but I'm curious to hear from other quenchbloggers and guests. Comments are open.
On a final note, I'd like everyone to notice that I was careful to use the word 'organization.' It's important to distinguish between MassEquality-the-organization, and the individuals who work for it. I am one of these individuals, and for me personally, the war in Iraq IS important. I am the child of veterans. I am opposed to senseless bloodshed and (speaking of nonsensical) spreading freedom at the point of a gun. On Saturday, I marched.