Monday, April 26, 2010

By the Time Queers get to Arizona

Okay, it's been a long time and I've been trying to post for a while. And, I'm furiously typing this up.I can barely contain my anger over Jan Brewer's decision to sign the Senate Bill 1070 into law last week. And while I applaud President Obama for speaking out against the measure and its civil rights implications, I can't help but think about the relationship between Arizona's measure and same sex marriage. And I'm calling on the mainstream gay community to end the movement for "equality" in the form of legalizing gay marriage until this law (and other initiatives like it) is repealed. If you haven't heard about it for some reason, "The law requires police to question people about their immigration status — including asking for identification — if they suspect someone is in the country illegally."

As we know from formal and informal policy and practice in urban and rural communities throughout the US, the people that are targeted, who will be stopped, monitored, questioned and searched are brown. No one else. And I will not stand for it. And this state action, for me, is inextricably linked to state actions regarding same sex marriage. How can we, ethically, as a community ask for state recognition of queer marriage, from any U.S. state, when states like Arizona openly endorse white supremacy? I won't do it. I am tired, as a brown bodied, Black, queer woman of being asked to choose between race and queer status. I will no longer support seeking state recognition to marry my girlfriend while my brown sisters and brothers are legally--LEGALLY--allowed to be questioned about whether or not they belong here. Arizona is Mexico, my friends, let's not forget. And Mexico, like the U.S., is Native land. These questions are moot. And LGBTQ folks need to take a stand against this questioning because we are subject to the same scrutiny, the same questioning.

Marriage will not guarantee us equal rights, or human rights in this country. It hasn't. We will not be protected in other areas because we are legally married. And the small perks that go along with marriage are not enough. We can still be targeted in the workplace, on the street, in our homes, etc.

And I speak on this as a woman who is planning to marry her girlfriend next year. I want to marry Joan Benoit. And I have never wanted to marry anyone, ever. Marriage has never been my thing. Love, yes, most definitely. And I have loved and been committed to partners before, deeply. But, I want to marry Joan. I want to stand up in front of my parents, her parents, our friends/family, anyone who will listen and declare my love and commitment to her. And celebrate that all day, all night, and everyday. And we will.

But I don't need the state's recognition.

Lesbians and gay men have been marrying one another in (and outside of) ceremony for a long time and I have always recognized and taken "pride" in that tradition. And I will follow in those footsteps with my girl. I will commit to her and build a life together because we can. But, I'm not championing same sex marriage laws anymore. Not until brown bodies are recognized as the "American" bodies that we are--Native, Mexican, Black, Cuban, Arab, Filipino, all of us who fall into that category. Because we are all currently suspect until we prove that we belong and are acceptable.

In the words of Public Enemy,
“Yeah, he appear to be fair, the sucker over there. He try to keep it yesteryear. The good old days, the same old ways that kept us dying. Yes you, me, myself and I indeed.”

So stand up queers, and get to Arizona.

(All images from Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes @