Against Marriage Equality

By Ryan Conrad

With the recent passage of gay marriage nationwide in the United States by a narrow June 2015 Supreme Court ruling, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) Canadians have been congratulating their American counterparts for finally catching up to the rights and privileges already afforded to all Canadians since 2005. The odd Canadian jubilation for American gay marriage was similar to the outpouring of patriotic pride LGBT Canadians showed when the United States finally overturned its ban on openly gay and lesbian service members in 2011. Both were odd displays of cross-border nationalism and a shallow form of liberal solidarity for two unworthy goals.

Most liberal LGBTs and their allies argue that we are on some sort of linear progress narrative, hurtling forward through time and space towards a world where LGBTs can be equal and no different than everyone else. But what most people don’t seem to be asking is: what are we trying to be equal to?

Gay and lesbian service members don’t make for kinder, gentler militaries in Canada or the United States, and the imperialist, misogynist, macho, and racist military cultures remain intact on both sides of the border. Gay marriage does not address the need to value all families under the law, from single moms to multi-generational households, and leaves anyone who doesn’t mimic hetero- coupledom outside its bounds of legal protection and economic rights.

If equality means demanding inclusion in deeply inequitable and arguably deadly institutions, then maybe equality is something to rally against, rather than demand. What better queer worlds could we dream up? Worlds where militaries and wars no longer exist, where someone’s marital status doesn’t impact their ability to access public social safety nets, health care, protect their family, or immigrate? And how do we build a broad-based social and economic justice movement that values difference in order to make these worlds a reality? Check out to join the conversation!