The coalition government have very kindly taken it upon themselves to wish the British public a happy, married new year with their latest proposals.
I literally don’t even have the words to express how angry and upset I am, which is the joy of blogging, because it’s the techological equivalent of me throwing a lot of china at the wall out of pure rage. Just as well the internet exists really, as a) noise makes me sad, and b) I don’t have any china.
I’ll say this: the reason these proposals terrify me so utterly is threefold. Firstly, having living in California during the 2008 presidential election, during which time Proposition 8 was also on the ballot, I’ve seen something similar to this fight before. I’ve seen the divide between right-wing conservative and religious groups, and the LGBT and allied community, over the issue of marriage. Now since that debate, I’ve had mixed feelings about marriage as an institution, and my interaction with the queer community has often resulted in my leaning more towards the idea that we should reject marriage and create alternative relationships based on what works for us as individuals. That said, if marriage works for some folks, fair play to them: but you should still have the ability to get out if you want to. So it terrifies me that the potential for that is being so obviously curtailed by groups such as the National Organisation for Marriage in America, and now by the ConDem government here in Britain. Peter Tatchell’s Equal Love campaign has had pretty good press in recent months, I don’t want all the efforts of that movement to be in vain. I don’t want existing right wing groups to have another front on which to attack anything vaguely progressive.
Second reason: briefly, this idea is so dangerous for anyone, especially women, trapped in relationships that are abusive or simply unworkable, since if a financial consideration is factored into a relationship, that’s just another way of structuring power relations. Relationships shouldn’t be based on money, ever. Staying together for the kids is all very well, if it’s viable, but staying together because you’re trying to avoid a payout (which I hardly need say is very often not an option in this economy) and when it goes hand in hand with an ideologically based scheme to “[introduce] the recognition of marriage in the tax and benefit system”, then it becomes clear that these proposals aren’t going to consider what’s best for “the family” (whatever that is). The ministers who will want to push them through are comprehensively attacking all forms of relationship and family structure that don’t conform to the nuclear family, and will justify it in the name of stability.
Thirdly, I’m terrified because my best friend is engaged, several other of my friends are engaged or recently married, and I want them to maintain their agency and idependence, and not become unwitting tools or poster children for this government.
Looks like after the next wave of protests regarding the cuts to education and public services, us queers will have to get cracking on a plan to bring these proposals down too…