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Have your wedding cake and eat it too

Walter Crasshole evaluates the wider implications of gay marriage in the U.S.

Walter Crasshole (c) Alexander Gehring

06.07. – Facebook the rainbow! As many of you know, I’m not talking about a new Skittles social media campaign. I’m talking about the ubiquitous rainbow profile pic filter Facebook provided under the moniker “Celebrate Pride” after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in a 5-4 ruling, one day before most of us in Berlin celebrated Pride at one of the city’s two flavor explosions known as the CSDs. The pic filter appeared as a sort of passive way to show your support for gay marriage and by extension, the US ruling. Facebook made it hard for Berlin, and the world, not to notice.

The news itself hardly made me bat an eyelash. Gay marriage isn’t high up on my political shopping list. I will admit that after a surprise win in Ireland through public referendum on May 22, it’s been hard not to talk about. My Irish friends are over the rainbow, of course. My liberal German friends tsk-tsk about Germany falling behind in its obligations to LGBTQ people living here. (Although Germany has had a pretty liberal registered partnership for gays since 2001.)

What surprised me after the US ruling, in a somewhat reassuring way, is the lack of knee-jerk reaction to call gay marriage a bad omen for more progressive politics. At least today. Those of a political persuasion a bit further left of left in the past have been quick to say that gay marriage reinforces traditional sexual, economic and familial roles. And it does. And therefore, the argument goes, is it hurts us all.

But when I think about it, what good is denying gay marriage to people who are going to do it anyway? Those roles are going to remain for the time being, gay marriage or no gay marriage. And most people aren’t left of left. Gays wanting to marry aren’t going to radically alter their politics if radical queers fight really hard against the tide of time. The fight for gay marriage isn’t going to be replaced by the unfortunately named “Gaga Feminism”.

And why replace the fight? If it’s not your bag, no one was asking you to get on a plane to D.C. and stand on the steps of the Supreme Court in matching wedding gowns or tuxes. People who have something negative to say about the institution of marriage (and that’s me as well) are wasting their time by telling other queer people they can’t do it. I myself am sure as hell not in the business of telling someone they shouldn’t do it if they really want to. “If it makes you happy…” goes the refrain. And now it can in the US.

A few weeks back, I was talking to a friend about his, for most people, quite radical ideas on sex and sexuality. We chatted about everything from polyamory to sex with genderfluid people to BDSM – the kind of stuff that I usually ascribe people too progressive for gay marriage. It was surprising to me then this past Sunday, that the same friend told me at Südblock that he had also put the rainbow filter on his Facebook profile pic. Either I was being presumptive about his outlook on things or the time has passed when these things have to be incompatible. The answer is actually both.

But let’s not have this be the only “obligation” to LGBTQ people we should be addressing. There are still gender, trans, class, race, and ableism issues, as well homophobia in general, in the US, here in Germany and in many other countries to worry about. I’m glad for those who want to get married in US. If you want to do it, do it. If not, don’t. But don’t give up the fight.



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