Lynne Huffer: Bigotry Didn't Die with DOMA, Neither Should Radical Queer Politics

Are the Lips a Grave

This week our featured book is Are the Lips a Grave? by Lynne Huffer. This week, we will share articles related to the book and its author, Lynne Huffer.

In a July 2013 Huffington Post article, Huffer discusses her reservations with the marginalized approach in gay marriage equality that blinds individuals from other, equally important, topics, such as racial discrimination:

I’ve been publicly critical of the marriage equality movement for its narrow politics: for focusing on marriage rights to the exclusion of other issues, for making romantic love the primary condition for access to health insurance and other benefits, and for creating new forms of discrimination that pit married gays and lesbians against those who resist traditional coupledom–what I call the “new deviants.”

As a queer feminist and partner to an individual who is prone to racial discrimination due to her color, Huffer explains that the celebrations in regards to the removal of the generation-old federal law that prohibits gay marriage in the state of California are “sweet but politically toothless.” The rationale for this anger and frustration is because the day before the ruling, the Supreme Court had taken out Section Four of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. As a result, it would allow states with a history of racial profiling and discrimination to make it more difficult for individuals to vote due to their color in states such as Georgia, where Huffer and her partner live. Huffer underscores the racial analogy component in the LGBTQ fight to equality:

The contrast between the back-to-back decisions—the Voting Rights Act and same-sex marriage—highlights what’s wrong with our postracial belief in the inevitability of progress that has dominated LGBT activism for the past two decades. Marriage equality advocates regularly compare the struggle for same-sex marriage to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. In fact, the racial analogy has been the most common frame for understanding the LGBT rights struggle.

Huffer contends that racial discrimination needs to be discussed in the same frame of reference as equality for individuals who are not heterosexual. If we don’t address race, then we are living in the lies of a mythical, post-racial American society. To that extent, Huffer highlights a few examples of why this is binding of race and sexuality is a serious issue and merits our attention.

For example, lawyers, pundits, and activists regularly compare the inevitability of same-sex marriage rights to Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that struck down state statutes prohibiting interracial marriage. Or take Barney Frank’s comments at the DNC last fall as another example LGBT activists’ “like race” equations. In a clear analogy between gays and blacks who become traitors to their cause, Frank slammed the Log Cabin Republicans by calling them Uncle Toms. And let’s not forget the August 2012 cover of The Advocate depicting Obama in the place of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, transforming a symbol of our nation’s union after a Civil War over slavery into a story about the wedding vows of same-sex couples.

Huffer concludes by adding:

The gutting of the Voting Rights Act is a major setback in the struggle for racial justice. This doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the death of DOMA and Prop 8, two hateful pieces of legislation. But we can’t let our rainbow flags blind us to what’s happening behind the scenes of all those queer fairy tale weddings we’re about to attend.

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