WBEZ | Against Equality http://www.wbez.org/tags/against-equality Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Gay marriage is a conservative cause: An argument against equality http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/gay-marriage-conservative-cause-argument-against-equality-106068 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/370_34198857347_9999_n.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 280px;" title="(Yasmin Nair)" /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you&rsquo;ve heard of Yasmin Nair, you have an opinion about her. Her work doesn&rsquo;t evoke lukewarm reactions in people<b>.</b> </span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">D</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">epending on who you ask, she&rsquo;s a leader, an icon, a teacher, a radical, a contrarian, a troll or all of the above. I don&rsquo;t always agree with Nair, but I like the way she pushes our cultural buttons, forcing me to consider and reconsider my own politics. Nair challenges the status quo and the identities we take for granted, asking the kinds of questions that many won&rsquo;t. She keeps us accountable.</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I first met her while filming a documentary at Center on Halsted last year. Nair was one of the panelists at Queer Is Community, an event I helped organize as a town hall meeting to discuss racism and transphobia in the Lakeview community. I asked her about her perspectives on these subjects, particularly in the light of the previous summer&rsquo;s Take Back Boystown events<b>. </b>She mindfully informed me that it was part of a larger issue<b>:</b> the historical way that our city subjugates those at the margins. For Nair, it wasn&rsquo;t just a Boystown problem. It was a Chicago problem.</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">While we spoke, we were routinely interrupted by janitors and maintenance men around us going through the daily grind of keeping the Center running, a job as thankless as it is noisy. At first we tried to stop for each disturbance, but as the noise became the norm, Nair insisted on continuing to speak louder than the sound. No one was going to silence her.</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Last week, I met with Nair to discuss her critical work, particularly a recent piece that went viral from her own website and Bilerico, entitled &ldquo;</span><a href="http://www.yasminnair.net/content/gay-marriage-conservative-cause"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Gay Marriage Is a Conservative Cause</span></a><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.&rdquo; Nair attribute</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">d</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> her refusal to be silent with her education at an all girls&rsquo; school. From an early age, Nair was taught to value her perspective as a woman in a world without men: &ldquo;They literally told you to go out and change the world.&rdquo; When looking at her work today, she states, &ldquo;This is what I was raised to be.&rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">N</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">air says &ldquo;n</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">ot being apologetic&rdquo; is important to her perspective, as a queer person and a woman of color. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;Why a lot of people oppose me is that they don&rsquo;t get that. &nbsp;</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They&rsquo;re not used to queer women of color who talk back, who won&rsquo;t just fulfil their diversity quota. &nbsp;And they don&rsquo;t like it when women of color in particular insist on analysis and economic critiques, instead of depending on our personal stories to evoke sympathy. &nbsp;My weirdest and most racist opponents are white (and sometimes brown) sectarian leftists who condescend to tell me that I should be taking on white supremacy or racism and leave marriage alone. &nbsp;Clearly, the irony in their words escapes them. &rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nair has led an eclectic life, moving from her home in Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Kathmandu, Bombay (now Mumbai) and then back to Calcutta before moving to the U.S. </span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">She says l</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">iving in Kathmandu as a child was especially formative. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;I think of it in idyllic terms, </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">regardless of the reality I understand on another level,</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&rdquo; Nair</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> said.</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> &ldquo;Kathmandu has such a place in culture. In the 70s, it was a place where all the hippies went, the countercultural Shangri-La.&rdquo; </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">As someone living outside the boundaries of what society says is acceptable, the place will forever have a symbolic place in her subconscious.</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Today, Nair lives with her cat, Toby, on the border of Uptown and Andersonville in an apartment that&rsquo;s a testament to her diverse past. She is an avid collector of Hello Kitty paraphernalia and recalls going to McDonalds to purchase every single one of their Happy Meal miniatures, as they were a recent toy tie-in. Upon entering her apartm</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">ent, I was as st</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">ruck by the numerous posters of Marilyn Monroe as her endless library, and that Nair was as able and willing to talk to me about Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears as she was Foucault. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">This is not a woman you can pin down. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">This is precisely what makes her work so interesting in a time of the politics of the expected, the majoritarian nature of us vs. them. Last year, Nair gained attention as an avid critic of the community&rsquo;s lynching of Chick-fil-a, as something of a symbolic political sacrifice, and she&rsquo;s long stood as a critic of the politics of &ldquo;gay marriage.&rdquo; (She shuns the term &ldquo;marriage equality.&rdquo;) If you visit the websit</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">e of </span><a href="http://www.againstequality.org/"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Against Equality</span></a><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, the collective she founded in 2009 with Ryan Conrad, &nbsp;you can find a rabbit hole of articles calling out marriage for its racism, classism and neoliberalism. Although Nair&rsquo;s work has </span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">garnered more attention </span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">recently, she&rsquo;s been </span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">at this g</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">ame for some time.</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nair finished her Ph.D. at Purdue in 2000 in the department of English and describes her previous academic work as &ldquo;very 90</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">s&rdquo; and &ldquo;</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">all about queer theory and deconstruction.&rdquo; Like the institution of marriage she&rsquo;s been an avid critic of, Yasmin Nair later came to see that queer theory was a &ldquo;conservative movement,&rdquo; finding it inherently apolitical. When she started lecturing at the University of Illinois in Chicago, her colleagues Walter Benn Michael and Jennifer Ashton kept pushing her out of her queer theory comfort zone, asking: &ldquo;What does it mean to simply critique representation?&rdquo; </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It was then that Nair realized that queer theory wasn&rsquo;t going to offer the economic analysis she needed. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;We often believe that queerness resists neoliberalism, </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">and</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> it really doesn&rsquo;t<b>,</b>&rdquo; </span></b></b></span></span><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nair states.</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">To explore that, Nair needed to get away from her queer theory roots and start </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">asking questions about the role of sexuality and identity within capitalism. This was a long process.</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">For those unfamiliar with her work over the past decade, &ldquo;Gay Marriag</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">e Is </span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">a Conservative Cause&rdquo; provides a perfect crash course on Nair&rsquo;s politics. Written after Jon Huntsman&rsquo;s recent endorsement of marriage equality and call for the GOP to join him in supporting the issue, Nair looks at this as emblematic of a larger issue: </span></b></b></span></span></p><blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;All of this has led gays and their straight allies to </span><a href="http://www.queerty.com/meg-whitman-theres-no-legitimate-fact-based-reason-to-ban-marriage-equality-20130226/"><span style="text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">exult in having the support of conservatives</span></a><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. Apparently, there is nothing that confirms that a cause is right and progressive and just dandy more than the fact that a bunch of fat cat capitalists who have supported the looting of the world and generally have appalling politics around race, gender, and neo-colonialism </span><span style="font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">also support it</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.&rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nai</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">r says t</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">his highlights a reality that Against Equality has arg</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">ued a</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">ll along:</span></b></b></span></span></p><blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">There has never been a separate left case for gay marriage. Nothing that the left, progressives, or liberals have stated in support of gay marriage has ever been anything but a profoundly conservative argument...The surprise is not that gay marriage is now being embraced by conservatives and neoliberals. The surprise is that it took them so long to do so.&rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Although Nair has written several previous articles on the subject (including one wittily titled &ldquo;</span><a href="http://www.yasminnair.net/content/gay-marriage-hurts-my-breasts"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Gay Marriage Hurts My Breasts</span></a><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&rdquo;), this was a new challenge for her -- to put her a lifelong analysi</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">s of </span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">marriage into a very succinct thesis and, for her, an uncharacteristically short piece. </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">In writing it, she gave herself a prompt: &ldquo;1500 words or less.&rdquo; </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nair argues, &ldquo;Someone needed to call this out as plainly and bluntly as possible.&rdquo; </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nair states that she&rsquo;s been tired of her liberal, &ldquo;lefty&rdquo; friends &ldquo;trying to push this around as if it were a progressive cause. &nbsp;Gay marriage is conservative. Claim it. Acknowledge that.&rdquo; She needed not only to speak truth to power but to those around her.</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nair feels that gay marriage has &ldquo;long been the blind spot in left politics, despite the fact that it&rsquo;s a disaster.&rdquo; &nbsp;She cites </span><a href="http://www.bilerico.com/2009/11/against_equality_in_maine_and_everywhere.php"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">an essay </span></a><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">from AQ co-founder Ryan Conrad that breaks down the funding for marriage equality, showing how it diverts resources from other causes. Looking at the de-funding of AIDS organizations in the state and the closing of LGBT youth organizations at the time of the 2009 marriage campaign, Conrad writes:</span></b></b></span></span></p><blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The gay-marriage campaign has been sucking up resources like a massive sponge, corralling everyone to give up their last dollar and free time, leaving little sustenance for other queer groups doing critical work in our communities...While essential services are disappearing, organizations are closing, and new gaps in services for aging LGBTQ folks are being identified, the marriage campaign in Maine is spending money with abandon. The </span><a href="http://www.followthemoney.org/press/ReportView.phtml?r=404"><span style="text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">No on 1 group spent close to $6 million dollars</span></a><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> over the duration of the campaign, taking in </span><a href="http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/126665.html"><span style="text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">$1.4 million dollars in donations in the first three weeks of October</span></a><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> alone. In a state with a tanking economy, this kind of reckless spending on a single issue campaign that isn&#39;t even a top priority for most LGBT folks is blatant and unrestrained classism at its worst.&rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">According to Conrad and Nair, the idea &ldquo;funding marriage first&rdquo; will fix all of our problems is far from the case. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;People say you can fund marriage and other things, but it&rsquo;s not true,&rdquo; Nair states. &ldquo;</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you have $100 dollars to give, and you want to donate your money to a group and if you&rsquo;re told that all your problems will be solved with one cause, that&rsquo;s where you&rsquo;ll put all or the bulk of your money. People don&rsquo;t have infinite resources.</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&rdquo; </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">She cites states like Connecticut that have poured resources into marriage, just to see all of their problems remain and the organizations who said they were going to work on those issues pull out. For Nair, &ldquo;gay marriage is a selfish movement.&rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nair cites health care as central to this reality:</span></b></span></span></p><blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;In Connecticut and Massachusetts, the state seems to say that since you can get married, you must. Marriage is no longer a choice even. People with domestic partnerships are now being told that they can&rsquo;t keep their benefits with a partnership. They have to enter into civil unions. They have to realize that they are creating a situation where people are coerced into getting married.&rdquo; </span></b></b></span></span></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Earlier this year, the</span><span style="font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Huffington Post </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">covered a growing trend among heterosexual couples to be covered by their employers under &ldquo;domestic partner benefits.&rdquo; A personal trainer in Chicago was even able to get on his roommate&rsquo;s insurance plan after filling out a simple company form. According to HuffPost writer Katherine Bindley, these people would lose their coverage if marriage passes. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The only way to retain their insured status is marriage, which isn&rsquo;t an option for heterosexual folks. &nbsp;</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">On the subject, Nair says, &ldquo;No one should have to get married to have health care. I&rsquo;m often told: If you want to fight for universal health care instead, no one is stopping you. But there is no choice here: gay marriage makes it plain that we choose marriage or we choose benefits for all.&rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">This also goes for hospital benefits. Last year, Obama passed legislation that expanded hospital visitation rights, allowing friends and non-relatives to visit their loved ones in the hospital. According to Nair, many proponents of marriage equality opposed or disparaged this legislation, saying it diminished the benefits of marriage. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nair states, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a beautiful thing to be told that your best friend can exercise rights on your behalf. But no, it was only about marriage. This is proof positive that the gay marriage movement doesn&rsquo;t give a</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline;"> </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">whit about expanding rights to other people.&rdquo; </span></b><br /><br /><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Instead, Nair quipped that we have to move away from marriage equality to focus on issues that affect the larger queer population<b>:</b></span></b></span></span></p><blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.1067132183816284" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;Queers are not simply defined by queer issues. A queer person is someone who also works in a</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline;"> </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">factory. A queer person is someone who also works in an office. Queer issues are the same issues that are facing other people. Queer people occupy other realms. Queer people are affected by this economy. So, how is gay marriage making it better? Trans and queer youth and adult sex workers on Halsted </span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">St</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">reet are still going to be policed and battered by the cops. They are still going to be surveilled by the Center on Halsted. They are still going to be imprisoned in disproportionate numbers. They are still going to be targeted.&rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">To Nair, the idea that marriage will fix our youths&rsquo; problems is the most &ldquo;outrageous, insensitive, doltish, demeaning argument ever.&rdquo; </span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">She argues that ins</span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">tead, they need &ldquo;support from schools and family, programs in schools and</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline;"> </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">communities to help nurture them as they come to an understanding of their sexuality. A sixteen-year old is not going to get married</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, and marriage should not be their best hope</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.&rdquo; </span></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">We need to do more, and as someone who works with youth and within the Chicago school system, Nair knows some already are, against odds: &ldquo;We&rsquo;re doing everything we can, but th</span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">e f*c</span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">kers are taking our money away.&rdquo;</span></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">As</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> an activist, Yasmin Nair hopes that marriage will come quickly so the community can move on. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I asked Nair why her criticism of marriage pushes so many buttons. While knitting a scarf on her couch, Nair laughed. </span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not arguing for gay politics in the way they&rsquo;re und</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">erstood,&quot; she said. &quot;I con</span></b></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">fuse and contradict. </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Most mainstream gay people and many straights</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> hate me.&rdquo;</span></b></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">As someone who supports marriage equality, I don&rsquo;t hate Nair. I think of her as an important component of an evolving conversation, one that needs to include critical and incendiary voices like hers. I don&#39;t know what our community would be without her.</span></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">After finishing my tea, I left her apartment feeling challenged and a little rattled, forced to reconsider my deeply entrenched beliefs. If marriage passes this week in Illinois, I will ce</span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">lebrate, but also stop</span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> to consider what my celebration means. At a time when we take our political discourse for granted, Nair makes us think about our politics. What do we talk about when we talk about marriage?</span></b></span></span></p><p><em><b style="font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, serif; font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">To support Nair&#39;s work, visit <a href="http://www.againstequality.org">Against Equality</a> and <a href="http://www.genderjust.org">Gender Just</a>&#39;s web</span></b><b style="font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, serif; font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">site to fin</span></b><b style="font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, serif; font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">d out how you can get more involved, or <a href="http://www.gofundme.com/Yasmin-Nair">donate</a> to her website. Work as important as Nair&#39;s doesn&#39;t come for free.</span></b></em></p><p><em><b style="font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, serif; font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on Twitter @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Nico_Lang</a> or <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang">Facebook</a>.</span></b></em></p></p> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/gay-marriage-conservative-cause-argument-against-equality-106068 A critique of same-sex marriage from within the gay community http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-01/critique-same-sex-marriage-within-gay-community-87269 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-01/Yasmin-Nair.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>While civil unions are good news for some in the community, others are skeptical. <a href="http://www.yasminnair.net/" target="_blank">Yasmin Nair</a> is a co-founder of <a href="http://againstequality.org/" target="_blank">Against Equality</a>, an online publishing and arts collective that critiques mainstream gay and lesbian politics. The writer and activist believes marriage is obscuring other significant issues in the gay community, and she joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss her concerns.</p><p><em>Music Button: DJ Mark Farina, "Dubble-O: Big Fish", from the CD Mushroom Jazz 4, (Om)</em></p></p> Wed, 01 Jun 2011 13:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-01/critique-same-sex-marriage-within-gay-community-87269