Marriage politics also encompasses the political purpose of marriage, or why it is encouraged, whose agenda it serves beyond those who exchange the vows, and the use of the institution to justify a range of austerity campaigns that privilege certain classes as well as promote the surveillance and criminalization of those structurally deemed unfit for full citizenship or who reject or “fail at” marriage.
Marriage promotion as a punitive measure has been most aggressively targeted at African Americans and for that reason alone, marriage as a purportedly benign right should be questioned. We can also consider why, in the context of an anti-Black civil society in which we all exist, marriage serves as an explanation for enduring social inequalities, particularly during the era of mass incarceration, the HIV AIDS crisis, and the most severe financial meltdown since the Great Depression. As Kandaswamy succinctly puts it, “the language of marriage has displaced the question of political economy almost entirely.”
To be clear: my exploration of the state’s aggressive promotion of marriage among African Americans is not to equate the contemporary call for gay marriage with Black striving for full citizenship or to imply that those in the Black community (or of any background) who want to get married shouldn’t do so. Rather, it is to discuss marriage politics beyond access to legal recognition and to consider what the African American experience reveals about marriage as an organizing principle of the structure, under which we all attempt to carve out emotional meaning and have a variety of relationships.
If I could propose to a set of paragraphs, I would ask the ones above to be in a long-term committed companionship with me forever. I suppose I’ll just go nerd out on Tamara’s website.