I Don’t Like Places That Discriminate Against My Friends

A few months ago, we had a bad experience at a local bar when a waiter referred to my latina friend as “the tan one.” What may have just been poor word choice turned ugly when the owner of the bar half-assed an apology (“I’m sorry you are so sensitive, etc”) and refused to acknowledge that his employee’s words were problematic.

We haven’t been back to the bar since.

I don’t like spending time in places that make my friends feel ostracized, excluded, or uncomfortable. Even if the issue isn’t “mine” (i.e. I’m not latina), I don’t want my patronage going to institutions that discriminate against people I care about. It’s why I have a hard time shopping.

Earlier this week, Lisa Wade at Sociological Images wrote a really amazing explanation of all the reasons she’s not married. She was responding to Tracy MacMillan’s bizarre HuffPo piece from February, but I think her passionate reply stands alone. Here are a few of her bullet points, though they are all worth considering:

  • I’m not married because I don’t want or need the state’s approval of my relationship and  I certainly don’t want it interfering if we decide to part.
  • I’m not married because the history of marriage is ugly and anti-woman; because I don’t like the common meanings of the words “wife” and “husband”; and because even today, and even among couples that call themselves feminist, gender inequality in relationships is known to increase when a couple moves from cohabitation to marriage (and I don’t think I’m so special that I’ll be the anomaly).
  • I’m not married because I don’t want to support a discriminatory institution that has and continues to bless some relationships, but not others, out of bigotry.

That last one really gets under my skin in a good, thought-provoking, mentally-itchy way. If there was a restaurant that wouldn’t allow my black friends to eat there, I wouldn’t want to eat there. If there’s a bar that won’t let my gay friends drink there, I wouldn’t want to drink there. Marriage is obviously 1000 times more complex and important than where I choose to fork over $14 every Tuesday, but the principle is sticking point for me.

I don’t know if I want to get married, and this 500 word post is obviously not the place to parse that extraordinarily large question. And I know that every couple can shape a marriage into whatever structure pleases them and meets their needs, and I respect their right to do so. And maybe, if and when the day comes where I’m seriously thinking about getting married, it will no longer be an institution that discriminates against my friends. Who is to say.

Bottom line is, I have no bottom line. I’m just musing, is all, so let’s come back to this in ten years, okay?

Related Post: Grey’s Anatomy does a surprisingly nuanced portrayal of the idiosyncrasies of marital law.

Related Post: Do guys ever think about their weddings?


Filed under Gender, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

4 responses to “I Don’t Like Places That Discriminate Against My Friends

  1. Sarah B.

    OK, I have been thinking about your post all day. As I’ve shared here before, my sister is gay and I have some guilt about being in a hetero relationship. I recently joked with my sister during a conversation about weddings that she better have a wedding because she’s my one chance at being a maid of honor. But would she want to participate in a civil union when it’s still being defined as separate from marriage? Or would she want to be married in a state like NY, but when her marriage won’t be recognized everywhere and she can’t be married in her home state? Obviously, she has to answer these questions when the time comes, not me. But my general philosophy is that if these questions apply to her, then they apply to me. Do I even want to be married to my partner if my sister can’t have the same? Emily, this is such a hard question!!!

  2. Ah! Sarah! I totally agree! There’s not an easy answer, and I have gay friends that think I’d be idiotic to not want to get married out of some weird solidarity thing, and other friends who think it’s cool…. And do I want the state involved in validating my relationship at all? AAH?!

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