Melissa Harris-Perry, via the MHP blog
Marriage is not solely about loving attachment.
It is also about state recognition and a specific bundle of rights and privileges. But these rights are not enough to explain why people choose marriage. The desire to express love, to commit, and to consent is more deeply human than that.
Take black American slaves who were legally barred from marrying, but who created their own ceremonies and adhered to their own commitments. By choosing whom to love, how to love, what to sacrifice, and how long to stay committed, they carved out space for their human selves in a system that attempted to reduce them to beasts of burden. Enslaved people desired marriage and understood themselves as married, but without the protection of government, their marriages could be disrupted. Their spouses sold. Their families separated. They could love each other, but they were vulnerable.
To be gay in America today is not the same as being a slave in the 19th century. Little in human history compares to intergenerational, chattel slavery. But there are important connections on the issue of marriage.