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Relationships: Gays against gay marriage

It was the poster of a large wedding cake, toppling over, that caught my attention. I found it on a site with a perplexing title:, and the text that decorated the image communicated a powerful, albeit surprising, message: “Marriage is the proverbial burning building. Instead of pounding on the door to be let in … queers should be stoking the flames!”

In the depths of a national rights movement — the gay rights movement — the legalization of same-sex marriage is a subject echoed extensively throughout the country. Because of the progress made in regards to this effort on Nov. 6 (Maine, Maryland, and Washington all legalized gay marriage by popular vote), many of the people who are gay have rejoiced the steps that have been made toward, what they believe, is sexual equality.

However, as evidenced by the picture of the tilting wedding cake, there is a group of Americans who didn’t celebrate these efforts on election day, and it doesn’t only include religious enthusiasts or conservative right-wingers or homophobic men and women — but also members of the gay community itself, members unto which these laws affect directly. It includes people who are gay and lesbian who are in long-term domestic partnerships with their lovers, and who want to keep their partnerships exactly that — “partnerships,” and nothing more. It includes people who are gay and lesbian who believe they have fought their way through a “straight” society and now wish to continue the “alternative” lifestyle they have already created for themselves.

Some members of the gay community argue that the fight to legalize same-sex marriage is more of a fight for marriage than it is for gay rights. The author behind the book “Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage,” Nancy Polikoff, argues on her blog that the legalization of gay marriage will actually be harmful to our society as it will further alienate those who aren’t married. She believes it’s this view of marriage as a “right” that furthers the notion that those who are married are better than those who aren’t — that those who choose to sign the right legal documents deserve more public and cultural benefits than those who choose not to.

Then, there are some that argue that the legalization of gay marriage signifies the “acceptance” of a “straight” society fueled by “straight” ways; if people who are gay begin to marry one another, just like straight people do, they will become a part of the norm, and lose the alternative lifestyles they have led before. The site,, favors this argument. Underneath the site’s title lies its slogan: “queer challenges to the politics of inclusion.” Normally, inclusion doesn’t carry negative connotations. In this case, though, inclusion is proof of a society in which the “straight,” traditional ways of the world — or, in this case, the institution of marriage — reign superior.

Rather than being against gay rights as a whole — which, was my initial, puzzling thought when I read the line: “gays against gay marriage” — homosexuals against the legalization of same-sex marriage are opposed to it because of deep-rooted views against the institution of marriage in general. Similar to some straight Americans, they view marriage as a cultural ideal that justifies inequality, encourages social norms and adheres to a sort of  “scripted” reality.

As the image of the wedding cake encourages, opposing gay and straight activists alike will continue to stoke the flames of this heated debate until the day, the very possible day, in which all 50 American states give people who are gay and lesbian the right to say their vows.

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Katherine Marrone

Katherine Marrone

Katherine Marrone is the sex and relationships writer for the Emerald. A feminist and activist, she likes writing about gender issues and social justice.