Everything is problematic: Same sex marriage isn’t the fight

[Columns, letters or cartoons published are the work of the attributed author and do not necessarily represent the official views or opinions of “The Highland Echo.”]

I don’t want to get married.

I might change my mind about that someday, but, right now, it’s not something that’s in
my 5-year plan. Instead, I’m focused on getting my education and finding a steady job and
a nice home to settle down in. I don‘t want a lot; just the basic necessities, somewhere that
I can be safe and happy.

That’s all that most people would ask for.

That’s why I’m constantly confused about why LGBTQ rights campaigns and news stories
are so often focused on same sex marriage when there are so many other things to worry
about.
We might have nine states that have legalized same sex marriage, but we have 29
states that don’t have anti-discrimination laws in place to protect people from losing their
jobs or their housing because of their sexual orientation. Even in those 21 states that do
have laws, plenty of them don’t mention gender identity, and few are as extensive or as
effective as they should be.

We might have Ellen Degeneres with a spread about her dream wedding with her wife
in People magazine, but we have suicide and homelessness rates that are through the roof
among LGBTQ youth, particularly ones who are transgender.
We have a bullying problem that’s been deeply engrained as a part of our culture for
years.
Kids are struggling to accept themselves in a world that has no place for them.

It’s ridiculous that people can’t get married to the people that they want to spend their
life with, but, when you’re fighting to survive or just to be recognized as a human being, it’s
not a priority.
Give me federally initiated programs to keep LGBTQ youth off the streets when they
get kicked out of their homes. Give me housing protection and job protection, and give me
any news coverage of the terrifying amount of transgender women getting assaulted or
murdered.

The fight for marriage rights is important in its own way, but it’s been so successful
because it’s easier.
It’s easier to package up in white lace and market to audiences who might not have
seemed so receptive if the message weren’t so normal and pretty. It’s easier because
marriage is something that people understand, because it’s a story that we’re comfortable
with: two people so in love that they want to promise their lives to teach other.

But gay and queer people are not always in love; sometimes, they’re just trying to live.

In his second inauguration speech, President Obama referenced the Stonewall Riots in
1969, where members of the LGBTQ community rose up in a violent demonstration against
(also violent) police raids of gay bars in New York City.

It’s easy to put these two things in stark comparison: marriage has been fought for
with shiny ad campaigns of attractive famous couples holding hands, while basic safety was
originally fought for with desperation and fists.

Ultimately, if your main priority is marriage rights, you’re fighting the fight of someone
who is already privileged enough that they don’t have to be concerned about losing their
jobs for letting the wrong pronoun slip out when they’re talking about their significant other.
They don’t have the threat of being sexually assaulted or even killed because they’re
living on the street and somebody thinks they need to be fixed just for being who they are.

Sometimes, fighting for basic rights isn’t something you can gloss over with wedding
bands and color schemes and the power of true love. Sometimes, it’s about bruises and
blood and a deep kind of pain that’s hard to hide.

We have to learn how to look at the bruises, because we have to remember where they
come from.

We have to figure out our priorities.

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