Equality Symbolism – My Views on the HRC and Marriage Equality
I received a message on Facebook the other day from an old high school friend. She was actually the one who tarted me up for my high school graduation because I knew nothing when it came to make-up or dresses and the like. (Is my genderqueerness showing? Yeah. I thought so.) In any case, she, like myself, currently has the red equals (=) symbol as her profile picture on Facebook at the moment. There is a post ranting about the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), that it’s run by old white guys with their own agenda, etc. My friend was asking my thoughts on the whole thing, since she wanted perspective from someone part of the QUILTBAG community instead of getting involved in an already heated debate from the post. So! I messaged her back and wanted to share my thoughts here on my blog as well. I’ve expanded and reorganized the message a bit here, since I want to be a little more thorough than what I thought was called for in a quick Facebook message. 😉
When it comes to HRC, there are certainly some less than savory things about the company itself. There’s controversy for a reason, of course. Personally, I don’t have much to do with HRC itself. I’ve never volunteered to get people to sign up for their campaigns and the like, I’ve never been to a rally, and I’ve never protested anything on their behalf. I’ve never been too terribly gung-ho in the way of marriage equality. Might come as a shock to some people, since I’m such an active writer of gay, lesbian, and bisexual fiction (and hopefully trans* soon as well). I have a different stance on the subject, one I’m sure a lot of people would call utopian and dispute ’til kingdom come. My ideal is beyond what is currently feasible in our current political and social climate. C’est la vive. I recognize that, and I welcome people to have their own opinions. I don’t like the status quo any more than others who are moving toward equality.
I’m a little different in that my personal opinion is to separate marriage completely from civil unions. If it were possible, I’d make “marriage”, as a term, only applicable to the ceremony provided by a religious institution. It would be a ceremony without any legal backing and would be up to whatever religion is being practiced/expressed. On the flip side of that coin, “civil unions” would involve the same paperwork, rights, and privileges that are currently termed under “marriage”. The unions would be available to any and all who seek them, regardless of race, gender or sexual identity or expression, you name it. It completely separates the term “marriage” from the legislation. No debate would have to be raised in the legality of civil unions because they wouldn’t carry the same weight that the term marriage has. The separation would mean that the status of being married would be between the individuals (couples, multiple couples, even) and their chosen religions. In a way, this is your classic separation of church and state. The religious standpoint on marriage would have no sway on the legal standing of the citizens who are getting civil unions, and that would include everyone.
Bringing it back to the present reality, if two individuals want to be considered legally married, I’m all for it. Make no mistake about that. But the term marriage has gotten so bogged down in whether it’s appropriate or not from a religiously based moral standpoint that no one is about to agree one way or the other on who may marry whom. In an ideal world, separating the terms would happen and everyone would be equal legislation-wise while the issue of being “married” would just stay out of it. I know that’s not going to happen because people are, forgive the pun, too married to their terminology at this point, but it’s where I stand on the issue. ^_^
I understand people not wanting to support HRC and that the = symbol has been their campaign symbol for ages now. However, my stance on this is that the symbol has become more than just their campaign. The symbol has become indicative of equality in general, seeking equal rights for everyone regardless of their sexual and gender identities and/or expressions. It’s a cause that is championed by more than the HRC, so the symbol is more than the slogan for their particular campaign.
In the end, I feel one can support the CAUSE without necessarily having to support the COMPANY behind a particular cause. That’s where I stand on it. I support the cause of equality as a female-presenting genderqueer individual. I don’t have any ties to the HRC campaign, but I do hope that the US as a country takes a step toward equality.