72 days. That's how long reality-tv star Kim Kardashian's
marriage to basketball player Kris Humphries lasted. Coming exactly
a year after the couple first met and after a lavish ceremony
costing a reported $10,000,000, the news has generated hundreds of
stories, a Twitter frenzy and accusations that the whole affair was
a money-making sham.
Amongst the seemingly infinite amount of jokes about the brevity
of the relationship came a number of gay and lesbians expressing
their anger at what they perceive as a lack of respect for the
institution of marriage while they themselves are excluded. As
reported yesterday two lesbian 'reality' TV stars from American
show, The Real L Word issued a statement to reprimand Kardashian
and further publicise marriage inequalities in America.
In the open letter, Jill Goldstein and Nikki Weiss-Goldstein
accuse Kim Kardashian of using marriage for "business gain" and in
the process being "truly hurtful to those of us who so deeply value
the union and yet are unjustly denied the right."
The couple, who wed unlawfully in California in October 2010,
highlight the number of rights automatically given to Kardashian
upon her marriage and contrast the number of steps they had to take
to secure similar rights in areas such as healthcare, parenting and
taxes. The two women end the letter by asking Kim to have "more
respect for the union" and suggest she donates money to America's
Human Rights Campaign, the country's leading LGBT organisation
currently campaigning for marriage equality.
While The Real L Word stars are right to be aggrieved at their
lack of rights, connecting this to Kardashian's marriage, sham or
not, is wrong-headed and if anything, plays into the hands of their
opponents who believe the sanctity of marriage is under threat.
Pointing out that marriage is already being undermined by
straight couples who don't treat it reverentially is hardly going
to win over moral conservatives who believe same-sex marriage poses
an additional threat to the institution. This seems so obvious that
I doubt winning over critics was even their intention.
So other than fishing for a donation, what was the point of the
letter? It would appear to be to try and prove that the couple are
far more worthy of the right to marry than the careless and
disrespectful Kardashian. She had a lavish, media event barely a
year after meeting her partner - they had a sincere ceremony in
front of close friends and family. Her wedding proved a lucrative
money-maker, theirs required a lot of legal work to secure even
part of the benefits. She managed barely 3 months, theirs already
over a year despite the hardships.
But this attempt to prove their own worthiness for the right to
marry completely misses the point of the fight for same-sex
marriage. Goldstein and Weiss-Goldstein's right to marry doesn't
come from the fact they're more responsible than Kardashian, but
rather that the state has no right to deny them the rights afforded
to opposite-sex couples. How they choose to deal with that right is
of no consequence to the right itself. Same-sex couples should feel
no more aggrieved about this short, potentially sham marriage than
they should be at the 50-year marriage of a nice couple of
Rather than attempting to lord it over the feckless Kardashian,
and grovel to others about how sensible and responsible they are,
the couple would do better remembering that the fight for same-sex
marriage isn't about respectability but rights, and that the fight
for same-sex marriage is a fight for gays and lesbians to have the
right to long and loving marriages, short and unhappy marriages,
drunken Vegas marriages with strangers and all the other ways which
opposite-sex couples currently use and abuse the institution - even
tacky, media-saturating, money-spinning shams of a marriage.