Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Marriage Equality and Putting Our Weddings Where Our Mouths Are

Had a good conversation with a co-worker/pal today about marriage equality. Like me she has had dear friends ask her to go to or be in weddings. Destination weddings, weddings with themes, family only weddings and on & on. Unlike her I have not directly confronted any of my legally able to wed friends about why they chose to marry knowing full well that I, their beloved friend, is not able to have the same rights. Also unlike her I'm still going to those weddings. She won't and I think that's very brave.

Partly I've been working this issue out in my head for a while. Not the marriage equality issue but the -why the fuck are you participating in an institution that I am not only not privy to but not allowed? Perhaps I have not had this discussion because I want my friends to like me and the fear of losing them has kept me quiet. Maybe it's due to being a person in 12 step recovery and I try to stay cognizant of any selfishness on my own part. Is it selfish to want to be equal? Is it selfish to ask my friends and family to explain or at least think about their legal privileges?

As my friend and I chatted we both became more angry, sad, and concerned. I even got teary. We both agree that legal marriage (ironically) isn't for us. I personally would prefer domestic partnerships for all. If a couple wishes to have a ceremony or not that's their business and also that the law should be as minimally involved in my & everyone else's love lives as possible. I like that my spouse and I defined for ourselves that we're married and just what marriage is to us. No law had to dictate that. That being said we are citizens of this country and citizens of the world. We should not be kept from making important decisions about each others welfare, estate and so fourth. If LGBTQ folks are only able to have minimum benefits on a state by state basis (we are domestically partnered in Oregon- the moment we're out of state & something bad happened I'm not guaranteed I'll be able to take care of my wife) why can't our legally able to marry friends consider standing with us and draw up papers for only the same rights were allowed.

Last year Mycal & I had friends who had a lovely ceremony & papers drawn up but chose not to legally marry because they love each other but also care enough to stand with their LGBTQ brothers & sisters. Not one person walked away from that wedding ceremony thinking "wow that was nice but certainly not valid."

The excuses to marry from legally able couples I can sometimes buy. They say "oh he really wants to" or "oh it's really important to my family" or "oh well I never thought about that as a privilege" and on and on. So yeah all that is fine but how about thinking about it. Or standing up to familial expectations to be individuals who are together. Or asking the potential spouse to look into what the deeper meanings of marriage are and see if they can exist or do exist in the relationship without that marriage certificate.

Another option is to get legally married and ask those invited to a wedding to donate to marriage equality organizations. Another option is to acknowledge on the invitation or in the ceremony that you're taking part in a privilege that is not extended to your loved ones. I mean if a couple who wishes to legally marry but also claim to support LGBTQ rights can't do that, what then are they actually supporting? Their right to only give a fuck when an queer person is around but other wise not give a crap? Or their right to ask queer folks to be witness/ celebrate the very thing their denied?

I then have to ask myself if I was totally in love with someone legally considered the opposite sex, would I have thought about my queer allies? Would I go without something just because a few of my friends do? Since I am bisexual this has come up for me. Many years ago I loved as man and thought I wanted to eventually marry him (thank god I didn't). At that time I was 25 years old and more idealistic than I am now. I thought that marriage equality was quickly approaching so it would be okay if we legally wed. And I'm sure my friends and family who have legally wed thought that as well.

Now though I know the reality of the situation. It's been 10 years since that wide eyed young woman (me) wanted to marry that guy (him). Marriage equality isn't going to happen with apathy and excuses. It's going to take LGBTQ's and those legally able to marry to stop the legalized discrimination. We need to celebrate our relationships but we also need to have those tough conversations, examine our values and ask ourselves and each other what really needs to be done to make all citizens full citizens of a country that supposedly has a separation from the morality of religion. Getting legally married will not get queer folks closer to that same right. Getting real will.

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