Marriage equality – what’s that, then?

I was once told by an immature teenager that my gloves were gay. It wasn’t even my rainbow gloves, which i’d have to admit, yeah, they’re pretty gay!

Even my purple gloves, i’d concede that the kid had a point. No, it was my white and black striped gloves; they’re not even gaily coloured!

“Your gloves are GAY!”

So i said, “Oh really? Do you think they are attracted to other gloves of the same gender?”

To me the term “gay marriage” is as ridiculous a concept as “gay gloves”. Marriage doesn’t have a sexuality. And if you’re trying to say it’s for gay people, no it’s not. It affects bi, trans and straight people too, in all kinds of combinations. What we’re really looking for is an equality of marriage: the same opportunities available to everyone.

Some examples:

1. Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle have been trying for nearly two years to get a civil partnership, because they don’t want the historical baggage associated with marriage. They have been denied because of their sexuality: they are both straight.

2. A friend of mine changed gender and had to get divorced and form a civil partnership instead, in order to achieve gender recognition.

3. I am bisexual and married to a man. Do we have a straight marriage? If i had wanted to marry a woman, would it be a gay marriage? No, because i am not gay.

4. Gay people can get married right now! There’s nothing to stop a gay man marrying a gay woman. You might be surprised how often that happens, just for the convenience.

It bothers me whenever i see the term “gay marriage”. This morning i saw journalists Emma Kennedy and Victoria Coren both use it, so i tweeted:

your periodic reminder that “marriage equality” is preferable to “gay marriage” .. thank you!

Emma agreed with me, but claimed that on twitter, “gay marriage” is more convenient, to avoid getting hundreds of tweets asking what “marriage equality” means. I didn’t realise that there was so much ignorance. It can’t be that hard to explain, surely? I think that if more journalists and politicians would start using the terms “equal marriage” or “marriage equality” then people would get used to it and understand what it means.

If we can’t go that far, “same-sex marriage” is at least slightly preferable to “gay marriage” because it’s more descriptive, and it doesn’t exclude bisexual people. It highlights the thing that is currently unequal about marriage. I still don’t like it because it implies that we’re talking about a different, separate thing, when what we actually want is equal access to the same thing.

One friend suggested that we should call it “Marry Who The Fuck You Want” .. people should be able to grasp that concept! Another friend recommends that we do away with marriage altogether, then we’d have equality of non-marriage!

It seems that the terminology of this thing is becoming my big bisexual soapbox of 2012, haha! And yes .. i know .. soapboxes do not have a sexuality. Well done if you spotted my irony there! ;)

Relatedly, for anyone who is trying to preserve the “sanctity of marriage”, the whole “one man, one woman” thing, remember that marriage is a human invention, and is always changing. I loved this poster that i saw the other day.

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7 comments on “Marriage equality – what’s that, then?

  1. Great post! I’m with you all the way on this one. Being a straight white male, and therefore probably not in an ideal position to appreciate some of this stuff, in the past I have not fully grasped the importance of the “equality” distinction. You were one of the people who made it clearer for me. I think the term should be used whenever possible, and the fact that it confuses people should be seen as an opportunity to educate, not an obstacle.

    I loved your response to the teenager about the gay gloves – classic :)

  2. The other problem with calling it ‘gay marriage’ is that currently it excludes transgender people, as you point out. If you say ‘gay marriage’ people just say “oh, well, gay people have civil partnerships, no need to bother”. The UK proposals would sort out the problem for married transgender people too. Which would be kind of awesome.

    • Yes, Tom you’re absolutely right. The Gender Recognition Act of 2004 led to this very weird situation that – god forbid! – we nearly achieved marriage between two people of the same legal sex! The only way around this was to insist upon the divorce of two people who love each other and in many cases have been happily married for years. That comes with all the costs and legal complications of divorce. It’s a horribly destructive piece of legislation, which will be avoided as soon as we allow marriage to be equally available to all people.

  3. I laughed at the “Oh really? Do you think they are attracted to other gloves of the same gender?”. To be honest, I never put it this way. The idea is that most of the people use the term Gay to point out something bad. Doesn’t matter what genre… it’s just gay. Therefore the idea of “gay marriage” is regarded as a bad thing. What is worse, nobody thinks about the life of those people who decided to get married but I don’t really know what. They could see the “gay” marriage as a partnership between two human beings who are just like everyone else but why should they do that? They can tolerate pedophilia, crimes and accidents while drunk but they are so against “gay people”! What is worse, they teach their children to lack understanding, they raise shallow people who cannot think for themselves, who cannot analyze on their own. I will surely not raise my child to be like that! Anyway, I’m getting more and more upset so I’ll just stop here :)
    Nice post!

    • Thank you Daniel, i hadn’t thought of it your way either. Good points. Good rant. It is necessary to have these rants sometimes.

  4. To construct a logical reasonning for this is flawed. this is a society choice. Equality has been enforced at a constitutionnal level in many society long before ‘mariage equality’. equality means you as an individual, have the same right as another.
    Even before the ‘gay marriage’ every person had the right to marry another person of the opposite sex. you can verify that this verify the definition of ‘equality’.

    This is a society choice, based on arbitrary postulate on what is good or bad for society. not a logical nor a moral one.

    Now the only question is in that opening of the marriage concept, when will multiple person wedding happen. Not supporting it will look ridiculous in 80 years.

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