The view from academic queer studies position and from a regular, everyday LGBT person is VERY different. And what often sits at the crux of that difference are the questions of assimilation and validation around the marriage argument.
To sum up the debate: arguments for marriage are the ones we see all the time- LGBT people are just as loving, healthy, righteous and deserving of the right to marry as anyone else. Yes? Arguments against marriage rights take the question of right and turn it on its head: why is marriage so important? Why should we, as queer people who are DIFFERENT AND AWESOME, feel the need to conform to a societal expectation created by and for straight people?
This irreverent article by Simon Sheppard on CarnalNation does an excellent job of answering those questions from the viewpoint of a person who once opposed marriage. (there’s also a link to his original article explaining why he doesn’t really care to get married)
Point being, yeah, even if marriage is an assimilationist institution, it’s still a pretty amazing one. I was a bridesmaid for my parents’ 25th anniversary vow renewal this past week, and the experience was incredibly humbling. These crazy people who gave birth to me have been together, loving each other despite their flaws and shortcomings for longer than I’ve been alive, for a quarter of a century. And that is absolutely beautiful.
Besides all the good stuff about medical benefits and social security (and my gf’s government health care package, whoooo!), marriage really does come down to the emotions- the neurons and hormones and heart-pumping happy feeling you get when you see the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Being able to put a ring on it means just one more way of showing that person that they mean everything to you and that you’re ready to make a lifelong adventure together.
Having lived in DC just as gay marriage was legalized was exciting. Living in a city with the potential to make that lifetime commitment to the person I love is life-affirming. And waking up each morning to the person I want to share it with, well, that’s nothing short of bliss.