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warner1999

warner1999

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Published by: coupycoupon on Apr 11, 2011
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05/04/2012

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MICHAELWARNER
THETROUBLEWITH
iNORMALi
SEX,'POLITICS,AND
THE
ETHICSOFQUEER
LIFE
HARVARDUNIVERSITYPRESS
CAMBRIDGE,MASSACHUSETTS
 
80
MICHAELWARNER
form.Atitsbest,queerpoliticshasfoughtthestigmatizationofsex,inalltheramificationsthatstigmahasforpeople,fromqueeryouth
to
sexworkersandsinglemothers.Butinitsnewestmanifestation,thelesbianandgaymovementthreat-ens
to
becomeaninstrumentforthenormalizationofqueerlife.Nowhereisthatmorevisiblethaninthepresentationofthegaymarriageissue.
CHAPTERTHREE
BEYONDGAYMARRIAGE
"Therearenosocietieswhichdonotregulatesex,andthusallsocietiescreatethehopeofescapingfromsuchregulations."-MichelFoucault,1973
In
1996,debatingtheso-calledDefense
of
Marriage
ActintheHouseofRepresentatives,IllinoisRepublicanHenryHydedeliveredwhathethoughtwasaclinchingar-gumentagainstsame-sexmarriage:"Peopledon'tthinkthatthetraditionalmarriageoughttobedemeanedortrivializedbysame-sexunions."MassachusettsDemocraticCongress-manBarneyFrankquicklyseizedonwhatseemedacarelessphrase."Howdoesitdemeanyourmarriage?
If
otherpeopleareimmoral,howdoesitdemeanyourmarriage?"Hyde,whowaslaterforcedtoadmitanadulterousaffairevenashecametoheadtheRepublicanprosecutionintheClintonim-peachment,couldnotmanagemuchofananswer."Itde-meanstheinstitution,"hesaid,lamely."Mymarriagewasneverdemeaned.Theinstitutionofmarriageistrivializedbysame-sexmarriage."
81
 
82
MICHAELWARNER
ThethingthatmakesHyde'sremarkwrong-notjust
il-
logicalorpompous-isthatit.becomesaprogramnotforhisownsexuality,butforsomeoneelse's.Hedoesn'tjustwanthismarriagetobeholy;hewantsittobeholy
attheexpense
of.
someone
elses.
Toseegaymarriageas"demeaning"is,inhisview,awayofseeing"traditionalmarriage"asmoresignifi-cant.BarneyFrankandothermarriageadvocateshaveonlytoexposesuchthinking
"to'
theridiculeitdeservesinordertopointupitsinjustice.ButtheinvidiousnessofHyde'sremarkisafeatureofmar-riage,notjust
straight
marriage.Marriagesanctifiessomecou-plesattheexpenseofothers.Itisselectivelegitimacy.Thisisanecessaryimplicationoftheinstitution,andnotjusttheresultofbadmotivesorthehigh-tonednonsequitursofHenryHyde.Toacouplethatgetsmarried,marriagejustlooksennobling,asitdoes
to
Hyde.Standoutsideitforasecondandyouseetheimplication:ifyoudon'thaveit,youandyourrelationsarelessworthy.Withoutthiscorollaryeffect,marriagewouldnotbeabletoendowanybody'slifewithsignificance.Theennoblingandthedemeaninggotogether.Marriagedoesoneonlybyvirtue
ofthe
other.Marriage,inshort,discriminates..Thatisonereasonwhysame-sexmarriageprovokessuchpowerfuloutburstsofhomophobicfeelinginmanystraightpeople,whentheycouldjustaseasilyviewmarriageastheultimateconformityofgaypeopletotheirownnorms.Theywantmarriage
to
remainaprivilege,amarkthattheyarespe-
s'
cial.Oftentheyarewillingtogrant
all
(ornearlyall)theben-efitsofmarriage
to
gaypeople,aslongastheydon'thavetogiveuptheword"marriage."Theyneedsometoken,howevermagical,ofsuperiority.Butwhataboutthegaypeoplewhowantmarriage?Wouldtheynotinturnderivetheirsenseofpridefromtheinvidiousandshamingdistinctionbetweenthemarriedandtheunmarried?
THETROUBLEWITHNORMAL
83
Itmustbeadmittedfromtheoutsetthatthereissome-thingunfashionable,andperhapsuntimely,aboutanydis-cussionofmarriageasagoalingaypolitics.Oneisapttofeelliketheunmannerlyweddingguest,gossipingaboutdivorceattherehearsaldinner.Atthispointtheonlypeoplearguingagainstgaymarriage,itseems,arethosehomophobicdi-nosaurs-likeHyde,orSenatorJesseHelms,orthefeministphilosopherJeanBethkeElshtain-whostillthinkthatmar-riageisaboutprocreation,orthatsame-sexmarriagesome-howthreatensto"tearapartAmerica'smoralfabric,"asHelmsputitontheSenatefloor.PopeJohnPaul
II
isre-ported
to
haveclaimedthatsame-sexmarriage"isaseriousthreattothefutureofthefamilyandsocietyitself."
1£
thear-gumentsagainstgaymarriageareassillyandphobicasthis,thennaturallymarryingwillseemtostrikedeepagainstbig-otry.Whatpurposecouldbeservedby
a
skepticaldiscussionofmarriagenow,giventhenatureoftheopposition?Noneatall,saysEvanWolfson,directoroftheMarriageProjectattheLambdaLegalDefenseandEducationFund.Wolfsonarguesthatinthewakeof
Baehr
v.
Lewin-theHawaiiSupremeCourtdecisionthatappearedtopavethewayforgaymarriage-weshould"end,oratleastsuspend,theintra-communitydebateoverwhethertoseekmarriage.Theshiphassailed."Hecitestheneedforaunitedfrontagainstthewaveofhomophobicstateandnationalinitiativesdesignedtowedmarriageindissolublytoheterosexuality.Ashealsopointsout,thereisampleroomforfoolishnessorhubriswhenintellectualsask,atthisdate,whetherornotgaymarriageisaworthypoliticalcause.Thedecisionisnolongeruptous.ThelegalsystemoftheUnitedStateshasitsownmomentum.Thelastthingthecourtsarelikelytocareaboutiswhethermarriageisagoodideafromaqueerpointofview.

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