Undomesticating the American same-sex marriage debate

This blog post continues the discussion from my previous post, “Let me get this straight”, where I verbally doodle my opinion of the recent SCOTUS decisions on DOMA and Voting Rights Act in light of US imperial intentions. It should come as no surprise that the decision that DOMA is unconstitutional has instigated conservative ‘backlash’. As this article on Alternet reports, “On July 1 of next year, same-sex couples applying for a marriage license in Indiana will have committed a felony punishable by 18 months in prison an a $10,000 fine. “

So, tension in the lands over same-sex marriage rages on, having implications for American abilities to claim moral and cultural superiority on the international stage. The domestic tug-of-war over same-sex marriage and women’s bodies between “Conservatives” and “Progressives” has a direct relationship to American foreign policy and power internationally. While “progressives” promote same-sex marriage equality through foreign policy, “conservatives” are also mobilising in Latin America and Africa to promote “Family Values”.

The ideology of Family Values has direct historical links to colonial era ideologies which constructed non-Christian and non-white kinship structures as “uncivilized” and “barbaric” in order to justify and legitimate Western imperial domination and rule. In is therefore a sad irony when African leaders like Robert Mugabe, who have otherwise stood up to Western bullying, take up these ideas and promote colonial beliefs about “proper” or “normal” family structures and gender relations which are inherently racist. In taking up views promoted by people like Pat Robertson, Mugabe lives into the more  mainstream Western idea that African leaders and politicians are “backwards” and not capable of governance as he spews vitriolic discourses about homosexuality which Western progressives generally consider to be archaic. While it is admirable that Mugabe has been so consistent on saying “Fuck You” to the West on many fronts,  in this case he ends up serving far more dangerous white supremacist values and ideologies.

While both sides of the debate may seem to be at odds with one another, they both have the same ambition at the end of the day – maintaining US cultural and political power internationally. Whether or not American interventions promote same sex marriage or “Family Values”, they are reproducing colonial-era relations between North and South in that they both reinforce the idea that West has the moral authority to dictate to the global South. From this view, one can begin to see that ‘both sides’ of the gay-rights abroad debate, as it stands now, are problematic in terms of their broader global ambitions. We need an alternative!


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