Monday, May 7, 2012

Rituals, rights, resemblances

The contest for the right to marry reflects, in part, a schism over resemblances. Discriminatory enact-ments, whenever possible, are root-ed in descriptions of the bearers of entitlement, rather than naming the offending aspect of the ostra-cised, which purport to distinguish them from others. Rites of qualif-ication resemble so well, in their systematic tidiness and choreog-raphy through the civic or litur-gical space, rites of exclusion and deportation, that what strikes one about discrimination is its order-liness - its surface banality, as has been said. Here the sacrament of the visitation of the sick may be permitted, while that of communion or matrimony may not.

The scene is a rail station in Lyon. But for an absence of baggage these docile families, here to vote in recent national elections in France, might be report-ing to be deported for 'work' to the east in 1943, or simply because alien in the near future. The shine in the floor builds confidence for either act.

The act of deciding the fate of others bears the ceremonious aspect of a prim perambulation with one's dog. A qualified gentleman or lady pulls a curtain, and brings horror to the existence of others of no name, except a lack of standing to protection by the State.

All their lives, the ostracised are witnesses to this consolation of decorum in their privation. From the American 'pledge of allegiance', rewritten in the McCarthy era to contain a divisive religious boast, to the recurring ballotings against their liberties and privileges, they observe and often, indeed, are invited to participate in their humiliation or worse, by the most fastidious of rites. I exalt the erotic nemesis, here, to honour the compulsion to sustain discrimination against gay men, for touching a nerve of indecorum. I revive the stereotype of pathology, above, to square the circle of excuses for this stately crime against humanity, which flourishes in the United States.

How ever more quaint this criminality emerges, as the province now almost exclusively of a single, albeit significant political party. If I were a Republican now, as I was in my youth, I would feel more than somewhat queasy to line up in orderly fashion to declare my preference in a Party primary, where not one candidate could appear on the ballot if he favoured nondiscrimination. Not one. I would feel like one of those "repeat sex offenders," reporting to the parole board. Shame would long ago have left my mind, and the drudgery of sustaining an inflexible, incurable designation would probably eliminate much consideration of the further lease on life I would earn with my appearance. You'd think I would tire of it.

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