Social Justice Advocates Handbook: A Guide to Gender Understanding

Why I’m Boycotting Marriage

by Sam Killermann · 19 comments

in Call to Action,Op-Ed

Sarah Silverman Supports Marriage Equality

Get my book!
If five days ago you told me I would consider Sarah Silverman a role model, even in just one aspect, I would have laughed milk through my nose.  And I don’t even drink milk.  But that was all before someone shared this Silverman quote with me:

Not only would I not get married until everyone can, I kind of am starting to get appalled by anybody who would get married in this day and age. Anyone who considers themselves for equal rights, to get married right now seems very odd to me.

I mean, it’s like, if you say, if you joined a club, a country club, you know, in the 60s, where no blacks or Jews were allowed. Why would you want to join that country club? It’s already bizarre. There’s nothing wrong with just a nice commitment, maybe a nice civil ceremony.

But yeah, no, I find marriage has a very ugly mark on it right now, and I would not want to be a part of it.

The quote may not be anything new to you, but it perfectly describes my issues with marriage as it stands now.  I am currently in a serious relationship, and I like the idea of making a lifelong commitment, but I don’t like the idea of drinking from a fountain that says “straights only.” 

Marriage shouldn’t be an exclusive institution.  But as long as it is, I can’t in good conscience support it.

Here’s my pledge as an ally: I’m not getting married until same-sex couples can receive the same privilege.  I encourage all other allies to make the same commitment.

(Thanks for sharing the quote, Ryan!  You’re awesome.)

Written by Sam Killermann

Sam is a writer and performer who uses those skills as an ally to advance progress in the realms of LGBT equality and social justice. He tours the country speaking to college students about stereotypes, prejudice, and oppression, and writes for this site when he's at home in Austin, TX.

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  • guest

    i definitely feel where you’re coming from, and i don’t want to get married any time soon, but the country club analogy made me think of something else. 

    as a harvard student, i DO belong to a kind of country club that in the 60s, nearly no jews or blacks or women were allowed. however, i am VERY VERY glad to be a part of that club now and to work hard to remember that past, why things were that way, why things have changed, and how we can continually work to make further progress towards inclusiveness.

    marriage comes with so many civil and social privileges. To choose not to take those because you can is a special privilege - one many people don’t have – and i don’t think excluding yourself from a club will make it any more inclusive to others.

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      That’s an interesting twist, and one that I got in an argument with a good friend about.  You put it eloquently.  Choosing not to accept a privilege, is, in itself, an even greater privilege.

      But I still wrote this post and took this pledge because there was something bothering me.  There are a LOT of straight people who vocally support marriage equality, yet still plan to get married themselves, even before their same-gender-loving peers are able to.  It makes me think of the expression “people vote with their feet,” or the even more cliched “actions speak louder than words.”

      I DON’T THINK IT’S FAIR THAT STRAIGHTS CAN GET MARRIED BUT GAYS CAN’T.  ”Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”  I do.

      I think I would rather express my privilege to choose not to marry, than my one to, hoping that it will create a lot of conversations that will result in gays finally being invited into the country club.

  • http://mek1980.wordpress.com/ That Other Mike

    And are you also boycotting food until nobody in the world is starving?

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      No, and for two reasons:

      1. I would die.  Even with research suggesting that not being married will result in unhealthy levels of anxiety and an increased risk of depression after a certain age (30 – 35 for men), not getting married won’t kill me.

      2. Starvation isn’t my cause.  I learned a long time ago that there are too many causes that it would be ineffective to fight for them all.  This one is mine, so I’ll fight for it. 

      And while you make a sarcastic comment, boycotting food has been known to be an incredibly effective form of protest.  Just google “Gandhi fasting”

  • K-G

    Go ahead and get married if you want — just make a special trip to one of the six states, two reservations or DC that allow same-sex couples to marry! 

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Love this point!  If the time comes, this will make for a happy compromise, without unhappily compromising my values.

  • Thepenguinpoet

    I am a gay male, and I don’t believe that gays should be allowed to get married….not until they go through rigorous counseling. I believe everyone should have to. Marriage isn’t a sacred bond anymore. Celebrities get married and divorced faster than I change cars! Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman, Mario Lopez and Ali Landry….the list goes on. I don’t like that infidelity is rampant in marriages today and especially in the gay community. If you don’t look a certain way or act a certain way you are exiled by your lover and the “community”. I believe that any couple that wants to get married has to be together for at least 5 years, living together for 6 months. It would be an eye opener. There would be a lot of gay “couples” that would never make it to the alter

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      That’s a valid perspective.  But the point you make is a fantastic one that I wish I made: marriage is no longer a sacred bond… for any one.  That’s why I think it’s ridiculous that we’re trying to keep it exclusive.

  • Marcos Sartori

    Too radical…

    Maybe you can stop seeking medical attention until everybody in the world is getting a descent one…

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Been doing that my entire life, but it has nothing to do with protest.  

      And it may be radical, but “too radical” is an interesting comment.  Too radical for what?

  • K-G

    My comment about going to a state that allows same sex marriage — I was serious about that. My spouse and I had to do it that way, and we did in fact get married. But the idea of waiting until same-sex marriage is recognized throughout the U.S. is NOT analogous to going without food or medical care — there is nothing life-threatening in NOT getting married after all. And 10 or 15 years ago when some friends told me they were considering not getting married because their gay friends couldn’t, I felt genuinely touched. This was the first time I had ever heard an ally stand up so boldly and take such a personal hit for the discrimination that was being perpetrated against me. 

    I just think the political and social climate has changed considerably since then, and that active work toward overturning DOMA is a more effective and more visible way to support same-sex marriage now, and it actually has a real possibility of succeeding!!! …which it didn’t 15 years ago. 

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Wish I saw this one before I wrote my responses to the other two.  Thanks for sharing, K-G!  And for being such an active person in the sitewide discussion here in general.

  • Guest

    Sometimes marriage is necessary for legal reasons (I’m thinking immigration here). If a couple wants to be together, to share a life together, yet they live in two separate countries and do not share a common citizenship, marriage is often the only practical way to make it happen.

    • Jay Irvine

      Yes, exactly. Or if there are children involved – I would not applaud anyone who chose to deny a child access to a second parent’s healthcare plan (as just one very simple example) for the sole reason of making a political statement. I appreciate the solidarity these people are showing, but it also comes off, just a little bit, like “Well, look, marriage isn’t really necessary anyway” which is… not particularly helpful. On the other hand, people publicly declaring they are “boycotting” marriage sparks discussion and hopefully makes people think which is helpful… Mixed feelings about this, to be sure.

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  • Muse

    Marriage was originally  a property arrangement between families. Religions stepped in 1) on the positive side to celebrate a passage of life and 2) on the negative side to get in on the property rights. Government also stepped in for those property rights.

    A lot of fairytales have been created as a form of propaganda to jolly couples into forming bonds and staying together, regardless of whether it was always humane and appropriate.

    I am against marriage as it now stands because I am against having people make unrealistic promises such as “I promise to stay with you and love you forever”. People grow and change. A day may come when a couple is no longer compatible. Forcing them to stay together when the joy is gone is a form of imprisonment.

    I am against marriage as it now stands because most relationships are still unequal. Statistics show that more than half the women who leave a marriage with children will end up living below the poverty line. This may force women to stay in a relationship because financially they have no other realistic option. This is a form of imprisonment. Any relationship where one partner is financially relying upon another can become a prison. Until everyone can be assured physical security, marriage is inappropriate.

    It is a wonder when people find love and are able to show real commitment. They should be applauded. But it’s not the bonds of marriage that make this happen, rather it’s mature inter-personal skills.

    If someone wishes to go through the rituals of marriage, that is their choice. And I believe everyone should have that right. However, the government needs to get out of the marriage business altogether.

  • http://twitter.com/Tenji95 Theresa Redford jr.

    It’s a huge commitment, but I’m willing to make it!

  • Jane

    I love it.  Thanks Sam. 

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