In a landmark 5-4 ruling, the US Supreme Court has ruled that DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is unconstitutional.
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.”
The court was divided along ideological lines, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, along with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomasm and Samuel Alito in the minority. The decision will immediately extend some federal benefits to same-sex couples.
In celebration of this landmark ruling, we’ve collected some art works that explore the realities and anxieties around gay marriage.
The text that has accompanied the work when exhibited previously at the Art Institute of Chicago:
“The painful imagery depicted on the wallpaper in this 1989 installation was meant as a reminder of fact– the ugly and unforgettable reality of the United States’ history. By putting this image onto endlessly repeating wallpaper, I made an attempt to say, metaphorically, that this was not an isolated event and that in ways it has become our background.
The sculpture of the empty wedding dress is a vase waiting to be filled. It represents the supposed white purity that often triggered or justified the violence depicted on the walls. It also represents a vessel that is ready to be filled with all of the optimistic hopes and dreams of marriage. And to many Americans, Gay Americans (an estimated 10 percent of our population), it is a reminder of equality denied.
The sculptures of bags of cat litter are the link between the violent imagery and the wedding dress, the metaphorical fulcrum. Cat litter both absorbs the stench of excrement (the wallpaper) and it allows for domestic intimacy (think diapers). It is also a reminder of the sacred vows that whose who ear the dress profess– to care for the body of loved ones ‘in sickness and in health, til death do us part.”
Nadja Sayej interviewed Crumb about this rejected New Yorker cover and here’s a tidbit:
Q: Can you clarify the genders of the people on the cover, or is that giving away some sort of secret?
A: The verdict isn’t in; that’s the whole point. Banning gay marriage is ridiculous because how are you supposed to tell what fucking gender anybody is if they’re bending it around? It could be anything — a she-male marrying a transsexual, or what the hell. People are capable of any sexual thing. To ban their marriage because someone doesn’t like the idea of them both being the same sex, that’s ridiculous. That was the whole point of the cover; here is this official from the marriage-license bureau, and he can’t tell if he’s seeing a man and a woman or two women. What the hell are they? You can’t tell what they are! I had the idea of making them both look unisex, no gender at all. On TV once I saw this person who is crusading against sexual definition, and you could not tell if this person was male or female — completely asexual. I was originally going to do the cover that way, but when I drew that it just looked uninteresting so I decided it should be more lurid somehow.
If you have other suggested works to add, please provide a link or upload an image in the comments.