Monday, March 16, 2009

Equality Day!

Last Thursday was Equality Day. Stonewall participated in the rally at the Capitol and then lobbied with our district reps. It was interesting to hear the conversations that were happening around the issue of marriage equality, and to see the strategies being used by groups organizing around that issue. At the end of the day, we hosted a free burrito dinner and discussion, hoping to facilitate some critical dialogue and envisioning for the movement.

Here are some thoughts about the day, the discussion and the dinner:

The theme of the day was of course, "Equality". We've been having a lot of conversations at Stonewall, and been thinking a lot about how we can be engaged in this struggle and support the campaign for marriage equality. There's something though, that seems so limiting about the rhetoric and rallying cry of equality. As Brandon noted in an earlier post, there remains a looming spectre around this discourse, the ambiguous question of "equal to what or to who?". If our end goal is to gain further access to institutions that bestow privileges on certain people within our communities, while not questioning the nature and values of the system that is creating and necessitating those inequalities, then I think we are doing a great disservice to the broader queer and trans community. Should there be laws upholding a distinction between what gay people are allowed to do compared to straight people? Of course not. But what we are talking about is equal opportunity to engage in a particular way with this system. It doesn't acknowledge the impacts and inherent inequality of that system in terms of people's quality of life and access to resources.
This does not mean that we do not support this campaign. We are actively engaged in working towards this. We just felt it was important to acknowledge the fact that we do not believe that disparities in people's health and well being that are born out of being queer, trans, women, poor people, disabled people and people of color are going to be resolved by the granting of gay marriage.
At our discussion we talked about the ways that marriage equality is or could be part of the movement for racial justice, gender justice and economic justice. We also talked about the challenges that racism, sexism, transphobia and classism present to the marriage equality movement. It was really awesome to hear from people. Our turnout was pretty good. We were really happy to get a lot of local activists out, who disappointingly did not hear about Equality Day otherwise. There was a mix of people, some who work actively around gay marriage, and some who have criticisms and are not actively working around it. We were disappointed to not have more people who were at the rally. It was a long day, but we felt like beyond meeting on the Capitol stairs and lobbying our representatives, we needed to be talking to each other, hearing from each other and thinking of new and creative ways of doing the work we are doing.
And as for the dinner, I dare say it was delicious, and the people here at Stonewall are excited and a little intimidated at how much beans they're going to be eating for the next month.

Please give us some feedback, post your comments and thoughts!

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