I got a call from the HRC a few nights ago. They were asking for money as they usually do after any big victory. I suppose the logic is to ride the high of success and point people toward the next big milestone in the gay agenda. If nothing else the Human Rights Campaign is driven, effective, and in the end they have my support and my $35 student membership. But I’m never all in.
As a mixed-race Latino, a homosexual Queer, a Texan westerner, and an Episcopalian Christian I can never be fully on board with single issue politics, single identity politics, or at least I shouldn’t be.
I was reminded of this by a close friend this past weekend as we sat on the back patio of a Chicago Mexican restaurant with a pitcher of mango margaritas. I was swimming in the excitement of the Supreme Court decision on DOMA and Prop 8, but baffled by what I viewed as the contradictory politics of the voting rights and affirmative action rulings. A professor of Women’s Studies with an American Studies PhD, he wondered, “what if we see this not as disjointed but as one continuous arc?”
What if, he posited, this affirmation of one population in the same-sex marriage rulings comes at the greater cost of the continued alienation of affinity politics from the mainstream of individual identity-driven politics? What if we as the gay community have jumped on the very life raft that used to oppress us? That’s not to say the victory is unnecessary or even negative, but it is to say that perhaps the space that allowed for this gasp of fresh air was brought about by our waning sense of a common destiny, our distancing from one another.
In this light, all of the rulings have a clear connection, the loosening of our common responsibility in order to allow for greater personal freedom, greater autonomy, greater personal honesty.
And that is just bad theology. It is precisely because we share a common destiny that we should be presenting ourselves honestly, precisely because our salvation is common or not at all that we must see Christ in each other’s full humanity, and precisely because you value your community that you should value my marriage.
So I celebrate the affirmation of love in last week’s ruling just as I celebrate a locally raised chicken, with suspicion. Just as it matters if you’re eating that chicken because its healthier for you or because its healthier for all of us, it matters why same-sex marriage is finding success.
There will come a point where the interests of our “personal health” will be at odds with our common health, and it matters what path we will choose then. Will we remain on this raft, inevitably leaving others behind, or will we jump off and swim in hopes of building a bigger boat?