“We Don’t Want Another Piece of the Pie… We Want a Whole New Pie” April 13, 2009Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, Heteronormativity, Just Saying., Singled Out.
Tags: equality for all, human rights, iowa vote april 3, legalization of gay marriage, piece of the pie, same-sex marriage, whole new pie, winona laduke
Winona LaDuke, a Native American political activist, is credited with the words that I’m borrowing for the title of this post. I don’t know all that much about LaDuke, but I’ve heard her words (slightly altered) before in a different context. About a year ago, I had what turned out to be a very significant conversation with one of my favorite professors, who explained to me why she, as a lesbian, had no interest in promoting the cause of gay marriage. “I don’t want a piece of that pie,” she said — meaning the institution of marriage — “because it doesn’t solve the problem of equality for all…. Hell, I don’t even like pie!”
This proved to be a major “Ah-ha!” moment for me: My older brother is gay, and so I have always felt passionate about supporting gay rights. For a long time, this implicitly meant I supported gay marriage. But since that conversation with my professor – and especially since Christina and I started blogging – I have begun to understand that, although legalizing gay marriage extends much-needed rights to some, it does not solve the problem of social inequality perpetuated systemically by the legal and cultural institution of marriage writ large.
Over the last two weeks, proponents of gay marriage have been celebrating, having won important legal victories in Iowa and Vermont, as well as a small victory in Washington, D.C. Christina and I – as well as other singles advocates like Therese at Unmarried Estate and Nancy at Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage – will, unfortunately, be bringing sour grapes to the party: Legalizing marriage for all doesn’t solve the problem. Nor can a shift in language (a possibility in the state of California) alter the power structure embedded in the legal and social systems that reward people solely on account of their relationship status.
If we want true equality, we need a new damn pie.