In many liberal polities, there is an emerging “common sense” that it is unjust to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, if they so choose. This popular conception of things could certainly claim support in the liberal political philosophy of John Rawls and others. Yet, as many queer critics have noted, the rights won through “marriage equality” are also caught up with significant dangers and difficulties, including the displacement of what, drawing on the work of Jacques Rancière, I call a queer politics of “dissensus” by a new “homonormative” consensus. In itself, however, a straightforward rejection of same-sex marriage, along with the norms and normativities it doubtless helps reproduce, would do little to contest the operations of power that animate them, as even marriage's most trenchant queer critics recognize. I argue that the recent rapid rise in support for same-sex couples' access to the rights marriage confers partly derives from the precariousness experienced in these times of political economic crisis, which follow the widespread elimination of less privatized forms of security by decades of neoliberalism. As such, a queer politics of dissensus today would need to entail processes of “de-individualization” and the production of new collective political subjects capable of demanding rights shareable in ways that create space for queer forms of life, including those illegible to the institution of marriage.
Ben Trott; Same-Sex Marriage and the Queer Politics of Dissensus. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2016; 115 (2): 411–423. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-3488513
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