Gay Marriage’s Gay Holdouts: The Progressive Who Thinks this is the Wrong Fight


Daniel D'Addario talks to Nancy Polikoff in Salon:

So do you have mixed feelings about the Supreme Court case, and which side you want to win?

DOMA is unconstitutional. But the denial of access to marriage has come to stand in for the equal dignity and worth of gay people and our relationships. The side that doesn’t want gay people to marry makes arguments that I 100 percent disagree with. The side that wants to allow same-sex marriage to couples makes many arguments that I disagree with but makes many arguments I do agree with. I’m not conflicted about how the cases should turn out. That doesn’t mean I think this direction for family policy is the most constructive approach to how we organize our lives.

Do you think marriage is inherently a sexist institution?

If you were to look at the original purposes of marriage going back numerous centuries when marriage was really about property, I would say that was true. I wouldn’t say that in the modern context of how people talk about marriage.

To me, the important thing is eliminating marriage as the dividing line between relationships that count in the law and relationships that don’t. Marriage is an on-off switch for many legal consequences that matter to people. I’d like there to be more nuanced dividing lines as to who’s in and who’s out, for economically and emotionally interdependent units. If one person goes to work and is killed on the job, that unit is going to lose income it depended on. It shouldn’t matter whether that’s a unit based on marriage — what matters is there was an economically and emotionally interdependent household that has lost income. In many places, you get it if you’re married, you don’t get it if you’re not. For family policy purposes, we need to be evaluating the areas where marriage is an on-off switch.