Sometimes people make me really crazy. Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop in The Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, reading my morning news and (theoretically) working on my thesis. Really, I am gchatting with my friend and it just took me about a half an hour to read one article on the New York Times website. The article I read, which I am now going to write about a little bit, is called “Refusing to Arrive Late on Same-Sex Marriage” and can be read here.
So first of all, I am a little put off by the title of this article. The full title of the article, if my knowledge of common English sayings serves me correctly, which I am 100% certain that it does, is “Refusing to Arrive Late to the Same-Sex Marriage Party.” In the idealistic and naive part of my brain this sounds great! It’s like, yea! A party celebrating marriage-equality?? I wouldn’t want to be late to that either! In fact, I would probably be EARLY because, in fact, I have been outside the venue waiting for this party for years now. But the thing is, this is an article about businesses and so the “party” that this article is alluding to is not the happiness surrounding the fact that this country is finally en route to doing the right goddamn thing already, but instead that supporting gay marriage is a good business decision. And that’s what kind of gets me about this whole thing. It gets me that businesses and corporations, while legally they are treated like people just like the rest of us, which is a whole other issue that is all kinds of fucked up, are only doing the right thing because they will potentially reap financial benefit from doing so. Not simply because treating all people equally is right. Not simply because who are they, or anyone really, to tell people how they can and cannot celebrate their love and who they can and cannot include on their health insurance policy and who they can and cannot allow to have visitation rights and make end-of life decisions. They are supporting it because now, in 2013, they don’t see it as a feasible business model to systematically discriminate against a whole group of people. Because finally businesses have come around to realize that gay people aren’t only some small little proportion of the population who live on an island and have absolutely no impact on the economy whatsoever. Gay people have money! And that means that now, finally, they have power. Or, better yet, that the power that they have had forever, because they are people, has finally been recognized because they have some green. Businesses can say something now partially because they can’t afford not to.
I know that maybe I am being unfair. I know that it is a good thing that companies like Goldman Sachs (who was ahead of the curve and whose chairman and chief executive Lloyd Blankfein participated in a commercial in support of same-sex marriage 5 whole years ago! Wow!), Estee Lauder, Abercrombie, Nike, Google, etc. are coming out in support. That they are lending economic credibility to the movement, that they are making the legalization of same-sex marriage almost (thankfully) unavoidable. But the movement was credible before. It is 2013 for crying out loud and it is only recently that we are seriously addressing a disgusting, systematic form of discrimination. It is only recently that people with money, people that control huge companies, feel brave enough to step up and speak their mind in support of their friends, family members, co-workers, customers. What took so long and why does it take money to make it happen? What is wrong with us?
And this other thing. At the end of the article there is a quote by the Family Research Council which, obviously, filed a brief against gay marriage and blamed a “a corporate environment dictated by wealthy, pro-homosexual activists” for the business movement towards support of the issue. The Council then went on to applaud Exxon-Mobile, which is the world’s largest company by market capitalization, for not taking a stance on the issue. The Council said,
“We applaud Exxon Mobil for refusing to cede the moral high ground to the special interests of the left.”
Cede the moral high ground? Treating people as your equal is ceding the moral high ground?! Special interests? Seriously, how does someone wake up in the morning, with a brain that thinks these things and actually believes them to be right, look himself in the mirror and think,
“yea, I am an awesome person who deserves to be here and treated with respect.”
Cuz to that person I want to be like,
“No, dude, you’re just a bigoted asshole. Go suck a lemon.”
This spokesman for the Family Research Council thinks the business reasons behind supporting marriage equality are “trivial” and that the companies signing the briefs were “motivated by political correctness, pure and simple.” You know what? Maybe they were motivated by “political correctness” and if that is the case, then yea, that sucks. They should be motivated by “correctness,” plain and simple. They should be motivated by the fact that we all deserve all the same rights and opportunities, regardless of religion, color, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, and everything else.
And one last thing and then I am done. I am really sickened by the fact that people are willing to go on the record and say hateful things about other people and think that it is okay because there are a lot of people who agree with them. That makes me sad. It makes me sad for all of us that people go out into the world every day somehow believing that they are more entitled to being treated like a human being than somebody else. I look forward to the day when marriage-equality is just the norm. When we look back on that the way we look back on the women’s liberation movement and say, god, can you believe there was a time that marriage equality wasn’t a given? I really do but until then, I am going to continue to be disappointed no, livid, that it is taking us this damn long. And I am going to continue to be pissed off that, as with everything else, it takes a person, or corporation, with economic power speaking out to really get this done. When will people just do things because it is the right thing, the only possible thing, rather than when it makes sense from an economic standpoint.