While I am wary of overtly stating that gay marriage is not a feminist issue (by this I mean not aligned with feminist intentions or political aspirations), the following arguments may appear to favor that conclusion. However, the rampant homophobic sentiments opposing gay marriage, in addition to circulating fears concerning the holy innocents (those "unagentic black slates" (Martin, 457) commonly referred to as children) - under the threat of pestilent queers - are surely issues warranting feminist attention. First, to any position postulating that gay marriage is a subversive or revolutionary act combating exclusionary heterosexist and homophobic mandates prohibiting "same-sex" partners from participating in a thoroughly sexist and capitalistic social institution, I have a simple reply: absolutely not. To any position intent on romanticizing institutionalized kinship, claiming that the marital contract is the state's recognition of love: please note that "love" is never recognized by the state - legally binding contracts are. The gay marriage campaign is merely a misguided reinscription of heteronormativity. Once the "good gays" are successfully normalized, the rest of us queers will be left to our now increasing stigmatization upon the emergence of new hierarchies rendering various queer sexual practices and relationships utterly untenable. However much I adamantly resent the viciously homophobic discourses surrounding this debate (which both sides have generated), I also resent the denial -- and refusal -- of sexual alliances not seeking expurgation, nor adhering to formulated delimitations that constitute normative, or naturalized, legitimacy. By proscribing the legibility of sexuality, possibilities become impossible.
Do abject sexualities have claim to ontology?
In "Is Kinship Always Already Heterosexual?" Judith Butler writes
... we see the debate break down almost immediately into the question of whether marriage ought to be extended legitimately to homosexuals. This means that the sexual field is circumscribed in such a way that sexuality is already thought of in terms of marriage and marriage is already thought of as the purchase on legitimacy. (106)
What do we understand as legitimate kinship? autonomy? personhood? Does gay marriage seek to displace homophobic paradigms or merely relocate them? The logic circumscribing the anxiety over legitimacy that Butler outlines serves not to abolish an oppressive construct, but to re-articulate that construct - which only serves to reinscribe its terms. Sexuality is not simply always already conceived of as a potential social contract, though, but also dyadic, static, and nuclear-ly/reproductively oriented. Furthermore, this emphasis on marriage, whether it be homo- or hetero-, upholds binary characterizations - one is legitimate only if occupying a political either/or: gay/straight; male/female; black/white; liberal/conservative; et cetera. This aligns very well with Martin's discussion of gender neutrality in "William Wants a Doll," and also the general discussion concerning family values. How are "traditional" or conservatively rigid family values that produce and delimit gender roles subverted or dismantled by gay marriage? If anything, the voice as projected by mainstream media sources loudly declares that gay kinship is the same as marital kinship. Those "straight" gay folks advocating for their supposed "natural human right" to state-sanctioned legitimacy adhere to oppressive frameworks that expel queer bodies and queer sexual proclivities from intelligible legitimacy. The argument proposed is not different though equal (or equally valuable), but equal because the same - valuable because the same. Yet, the very existence of difference serves to delineate the standard for sameness. Conceiving of individuals and societies in relation to a model of legitimate humanity does not, as gay marriage advocates want to imply, create a possibility for equality through sameness, but rather expel that which is read as "different" from the borders of acceptability: what is understood as legitimate depends upon a confounding demarcation in order to be recognized as such, which necessarily separates legible sexuality or sexual alliance from the illegible - creating tensions and anxieties over the sustainability of juridically conceived sexuality. "In effect, this is the mode by which Others become shit."*
*J.B. in Gender Trouble, 182