Our president made history today by affirming same-sex marriage. I could take President Obama to task about many of his stances, but today, I am simply proud of his brave decision to support marriage equality. His announcement came in the wake of the passage of Amendment One in the state of North Carolina, which defines marriage as a union strictly between a man and a woman. Let me be clear about my position on same-sex marriage: people’s civil rights should not be subjected to a vote. If the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was left for the people to decide, it would have most certainly failed (and the way this country is going, it might even fail today). Each and every American deserves the right to marry.
However, I find myself wondering why marriage is on top of the gay agenda. What about the myriad of other issues that are devastating the lives of queer people in this country? Wealthy and middle-class mostly white gay people and allies pour money into the fight for gay marriage, but would that money be better spent elsewhere? Gay teens are thrown out of their homes onto the streets every day because their families disagree with their sexuality. Large numbers of trans people resort to sex work because they cannot find other employment due to discrimination. While HIV rates are decreasing in almost all segments of our population, the rate of infection in gay men of color rises steadily. As we celebrate Obama’s support of love and condemn North Carolina’s upholding of hate, we should also take time to ask ourselves whether same-sex marriage is truly the most important issue currently facing the gay community.