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Just Plain ‘Ridiculous': Heteronormative Patriarchy and the Fight for Marriage Equality

Yesterday, August 7, 2013, two same sex couples filed for a marriage licenses in Shelby County, Tennessee, my county. It almost goes without saying that they were denied. Tennessee doesn’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to civil rights. In fact, not only can I not marry my girlfriend of six years, we can not even qualify for a civil union or domestic partnership, we do not have the right to visit one another in the hospital in an emergency (unless our extremely un-accepting parents consent), and I, like all other LGBTQ people in my home state, can be legally fired solely because of my sexuality. My point is that nobody expected any other result for these two couples. Their efforts were organized in conjunction with the Tennessee Equality Project, and at least as I understood the story, the gesture was largely symbolic: meant more as a public call to action than an actual attempt to secure a marriage license.

That’s why, when the local newspaper posted this headline on their Facebook page, it wasn’t the result that devastated me. It was the only comment posted below the story. William, who, according to his profile picture, is a white haired man who wears out-of-date sunglasses and an expression implying that he just forgot something very important, publicly and unapologetically declared, “Ridiculous. Two men or two women can be friends, not spouses. I remember when these people ...