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Beatriz Villatoro Feminist Practice Dr.

Catherine Raissiguier Position Paper- Final December 17, 2013


Thats what imperialism is all about, shoving your language, religion, culture, and race down others throats and telling them that theyre beneath you and its not unique to the West either. M.B. Wilmot
Marriage, is defined as a legally, religiously or socially sanctioned union of persons who commit to one another, forming a familial and economic bond; the social institution under which a man and woman establishes their decisions to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies etc. (Dictionary). When colonization happened in the Americas many times the colonizers brought their religion and imposed their religious beliefs onto the original people of the land. The colonizers believed that the native people were inferior and that they needed to be guided and saved. Introducing native people to religion (Catholicism) was the main way that the colonizers were going to change the people of the native land. The religion told the native people that their beliefs were not proper and that they were wrong. Forcing indigenous people to comply with European norms of gender, sexuality and family structure and punishing them for not doing so has been a key tool of U.S. settler colonialism in North America. (Spade and Willse). Marriage was used as the main tool to take land and purify races. There were many offers and incentives offered to men who would be willing to move (west) and if they had a wife they would be able to attain more; most of the time land was given to men as a gift. Aside from introducing

marriage, the colonist also made sure to eliminate anything that was representative of the native peoples cultural practices. In modern times marriage has become an institutionalized system that oppresses women and perpetuates male dominance; that is heterosexual male dominance. The debate of gay marriage brings up conflict values in the United States. Ferguson states Supporting individualism, U.S. national identity prides itself on civil rights for all adults, including minorities-we are, we proudly remind ourselves, a nation of immigrants- thus we advocate individual freedom and pluralism in the choice of lifestyle. At the same time many of our conservative government officials value the idea of family and marriage between a man and a woman. For a society who in its constitution separates church and state, the idea of marriage between a man and a woman is a very religious concept. Why would marriage, a religious concept, be so protected by people in positions of power? The answer lies in that the United States is a society which values and operates in a way to institutionalize and preserve a patriarchal heterosexual nuclear family. Privileging this institution requires the continued outlawing of gay and lesbian claims to marriage and adoption rights. (Ferguson) In our society we privilege the right to marry. Marriage is required for a person to adopt. Marriage is permissible to men and women, meaning that a man is allowed to marry a woman but a man is not allowed to marry a man. Since marriage is a requirement to adopt a child that means that only persons who marry the opposite sex get the privilege to adopt. This leaves same gender loving people unable to marry, therefore unable to adopt.

Marriage is a system that enforces sexual and familial norms. Marriage as a technology of social control, exploitation, and dispossession wrapped in a satin ribbon of sexist and heteropatriarchal romance mythology. (Spade and Willse) Marriage is something that always gets romanticized, especially for little girls. The idea of having a wedding, wearing a white gown and having that day be dedicated to you, the bride, is all a little girl dreams of. In movies we usually see women being helpless, waiting for prince charming (a man) to come and save her, oh how romantic. Marriage is made to look romantic to cover up how oppressive it can be. Therefore same sex marriage is a conservative recapitulation of heterosexism and racism. It leaves heterosexual men and women with power and privilege and marriage has been used to perpetuate racism, especially to the African-American community. Denying the family ties of slaves was essential to slavery-ensuring that children would be born enslaved and maintaining Black people as property rather than persons. (Spade and Willse) When requesting the right to marry, we are asking to be included into a cultural tradition in which gender norms are enforced. Traditional marriages outline that there should be the roles of a breadwinner and caregiver, that should be taken up by a man and woman. When we demand the right to marry, we get denied because we undermine the patriarchal model of the traditional marriage. Lets remember that traditional marriages, marriages in which women are economically dependent on men, are patriarchal. It is understandable as to why many same-sex couples want the right to marriage. When marriage is made to be a privilege, and it gets treated as such, it

makes sense to want that privilege especially if there is an economic advantage attached to it. For example, in Massachusetts, a married gay couple must file as singles on their federal tax returns (since the national Defense of Marriage Act forbids the federal government to recognize state-sanctioned gay marriages), but are required to file as married on their state income taxes. This means that gay spouses dont have the same opportunity for federal deductions as straight couples. (Ferguson) There are many services and opportunities that are only available to

heterosexual couples. Many same-sex couples, that are married, do not have these opportunities available to them. Mentioned above we can see that married same-sex couples are not eligible for federal deductions compared to straight couples. Same-sex married couples are also not able to have health insurance benefits, in the past they have not been able to participate in the armed forces, and they have not been able to adopt their spouses child. If marriage has been a central vehicle by which the state has gendered, racialized, and sexualized its citizenry, then same-sex marriage will certainly disrupt this process. (Brandzel) Here Brandanzel argues that when same-sex marriages get

recognized as legitimate that the gender roles attached to traditional marriages will get disrupted. Brandanzel is also claiming that that by disrupting the traditional marriage that all marriages will lose that component of the gender roles. Although this is

reasonable, just because the state puts a law it does not mean that all of its citizens will abide by it. What needs to happen is a change in how society views marriage as the institution. How all of it is more than just two people loving each other. Actually, how the government sees marriage as a tool to maintain order and control.

In conclusion all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to have basic citizen rights. These benefits include tax benefits, immigration benefits, inheritance benefits, and health insurance. The right to have same-sex marriages

recognized by the 50 states should not be necessary for couples to obtain benefits that opposite-sex marriages have.

Works Cited
Ferguson, Ann. "Gay Marriage: An American And Feminist Dilemma." Hypatia 22.1 (2007): 39-57. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. Spade, Dean, and Craig Willis. "Marriage Will Never Set Us Free Organizing Upgrade." Marriage Will Never Set Us Free - Organizing Upgrade. Organizing Upgrade, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013 Brandzel, A. L. "QUEERING CITIZENSHIP?: Same-Sex Marriage and the State." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 11.2 (2005): 171-204. Print.