‘Winning the War’ for Marriage Equality?


Love, Joy, Feminism is one of my favourite blogs, and has been for a long time. Libby Anne’s writing has a wonderful combination of clarity and empathy that I always look forward to reading. A couple of weeks month or so ago (can you tell I’m a little behind on responding to things?) she wrote about marriage equality. Hardline anti-LGBTQ US evangelicals are losing support for their position not only in the general population, but in Millennials within their own communities. There’s some lovely looking graphs at her post, by the way- go check it out!

Libby Anne describes this, happily, as anti-LGBTQ evangelicals losing not only the individual state ‘battles’ against equality, but the ‘war’ as well. If we’re talking about marriage equality in the United States, this is undoubtedly true. If you widen your lens to take in my own Western Europe as well as some parts of South America, it stays that way. In these parts of the world more LGBT people are entitled either to legal equality- or at the very least some legal protections- than ever before.

Does that mean we’re winning the war, though? I’m not sure. But it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s okay to see “marriage equality throughout the United States” as the war that needs to be won. It doesn’t even mean that “marriage equality throughout the United States” is the war that needs to be won by USians.

There’s a parochialism to a lot of USian thought. You have a massive country that has been exercising a cultural dominance (among other things) over huge swathes of the rest of the world for decades. Lifetimes, even. Like all social relations borne of inequality, we in the rest of the world pay a lot more attention to you than you do to us. We know more about you than vice-versa. Non-USians internalise US concerns and understand some of the nuances of US culture(s) in a way that is not reciprocated.

Not reciprocated, that is, in all ways except one. The average USian doesn’t have the understanding of Irish (or German, Argentinian, Ugandan or Thai) politics and society that we do of yours, but this hasn’t stopped the US from actively interfering in other countries. Sometimes this is overt militarism. Sometimes it’s more subtle, but no less real. Take here in Ireland, where antichoice forces are bankrolled by American backers. People who have never met us campaigning for laws that will never affect them. Similarly, when you look outside your borders you can see that many homophobic USian fundamentalist evangelicals have set their sights outside your country and are busy interfering elsewhere to drum up homophobia, transphobia, and legal and physical violence against LGBTQ people. It’s not that the war is being won. Battles may be being won, but front lines don’t end at a particular nation’s border. The war is shifting, being taken by USians to places where most USians aren’t even looking.

The progress made in Western and Central Europe, the Americas and Australia on marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ rights and protections is incredible, although even in these parts of the world we’ve a long way to go. There are battles being won. But the rest of the world- Eastern Europe, Asia, the vast majority of Africa and the Middle East- matter every bit as much. Especially when Western forces have been interfering in most of these parts world for centuries, we don’t get to wash out hands of the results of our ongoing interference. Ever.

The war is nowhere close to being won.

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