Federalism & Administrative Violence: A Candid Response to the End of DOMA

Federalism & Administrative Violence: A Candid Response to the End of DOMA


The Supreme Court of the United States ruled today that DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) is unconstitutional in a 5-4 majority decision. A series of bureaucratic adjustments, federal and state tensions, and upcoming legal battles for full recognition of what can one day be called a “same-sex marriage” are still to come.

For many people, this means the ability to file joint taxes, petition for green cards, receive Social Security benefits, among other things. In what is an eruption of political symbolism, I caution us to keep level-headed. It is by means other than reason that we still fail to admit that the cry for “human rights” that has reduced violence against bodies has resulted in what we see now in the battle between the States and the Federal government over issues like gay marriage  — an era of bureaucratic and administrative violence.  

Social issues, most recently “gay marriage,” in the United States are usually on the center stage of our elusive political landscape. Gay marriage, abortion, God talk, seem to take the media by storm when they reemerge as infamous and tiresome “battles for rights.” I’m sure this is not a view that many people share, particularly because being identified as a complainer in this country is the highest form of social treason. But, I suppose treason is the only dignified way of becoming political in an increasingly post-political country.

The fact of this complicated matter is, that political struggles like gay marriage are so loaded with symbolic politics and spectacle, that it is difficult to see what is actually going on. It does not go without notice that key decisions regarding voting rights this week have failed. And that decisions such as Citizens United represent a profound shift in what it means to “speak” in our political system. This is not to say, that in the spirit of relativism, an American without a ban on same-sex marriage is not more tolerable to live in; I myself, am a gay man who loves his partner and would notarized whatever needs to be notarized for his well-being (and should be allowed to), but this does not mean that marriage is a “right” in any way. Marriage is a bureaucratic institution that has performed a tremendous amount of administrative violence on people, either by excluding them, or more historically relevant, by including them (i.e. women) in its compulsive coupledom politics.

As our Government continues to claim “National Security” to extend acts of surveillance and monitoring on all forms of political dissent, maintains illegal occupations of countries, and defends the right to unconstitutional prisons and torture facilities abroad, WE, as the LGBT community, must remain cognizant of what is at stake with the symbolism that we so arrogantly participate in. With rainbow flags flying and equality signs taking over digital media, let’s not turn into the passive community that our governments so desperately want us to become.

For my friends who will begin to receive the much needed privileges of marriage that they have been denied, I am joyful. But I leave you with this: do not thank a government or a court. Many people in these systems are people with good intentions, with LGBT children, with a notion of what progress is suppose to look like, but nevertheless, they are part of a system of bureautic terror. We must never thank a court, at the very least, these institutions are doing their job. The outcomes of which are still unpredictable in a country where all aspects of our personal lives are monitored and regulated in the cold, distant, and calculated systems of governmental oversight.

Equality is not the answer, autonomy is.