The possibility of Equal Marriage (or marriage, as I like to call it) took a tiny step closer today. And there has, of course, been the inevitable outcry that I’ve found depressing, saddening and infuriating.
Here then, for those who are still confused, are the ten reasons I’d like to be allowed to marry my Mrs.
(There are many others, these are the ten I’m prepared to share publicly!!)
1. Because I care about language. And the language that says, at every wedding I have been to “marriage is a union between a man and a woman” insists, every time, that marriage is not for the likes of me. And every time I hear that as a rejection of my partner and myself. No matter how happy I am for the happy couple I’m witnessing, that is what it does – it reminds me I do not belong.
2. Because marriage did not ‘traditionally’ belong to the church or the state. It existed before churches and mosques existed, it existed before synagogues existed, it existed before monotheism was even around. And monotheism is, after all, only about 5000 years old, so it’s a bit much for those who claim we’re subverting marriage by wanting in too, to say it’s ‘their’ institution. Marriage is all of ours, always has been. We tied the knot, skipped the rope, jumped the broom handle. Marriage is about being witnessed, and it needs neither church nor state to do that.
3. BUT, currently, in our society, the state DOES witness marriages. So I’d quite like it to witness mine. If it witnesses yours, why can’t it witness mine? (I’m not fussed about the church, the wife’s Jewish and I’m Buddhist and we could find both to witness us, if we wanted.)
4. Because IF I’d wanted to play the Beautiful South’s “Don’t marry her, fuck me” at my Civil Partnership (I didn’t! though it is a brilliant song) I wouldn’t have been allowed to, because it has the word ‘marry’ in it. Again, I care about language and I mind enormously when some good words are denied me.
5. Because I call my wife my wife and she calls me her wife, but actually, in law, right now, we can’t really truly legally do that. All we can call each other, legally, is Civil Partners. And it‘s a bit of a mouthful and not very lovely. And marriage is, should be, after all, about love.
6. Because yes, marriage has been, often still is, a sexist and old-fashioned and couple-favouring union (which treats single people like they don’t count) and it does have a very dodgy history of men owning women and women being seen as – and being – chattels. And we can reclaim that. We can take that history of oppression and remake it, just as we have done with so many other things (education for example) that used to favour only men and boys.
7. Because marriage is, at base, about being witnessed. And I choose to live in this society and to be of it and while my sexuality makes some people think I’m outside of it (some gay people as well as some straight people), and even though it sometimes makes me feel I’m outside of it, my own personal choice has been to work for change and difference from within that society, not from outside. I don’t want to live in a ghetto and I don’t think I’m any less queer for that.
8. Because I am a hard-working, tax-paying member of this community and allowing me Civil Partnership but not marriage is allowing me only some of the privileges that plenty of other people, heterosexual people, have merely by right of their sexuality. A heterosexual person does not have to do ANYTHING to be allowed to marry other than ask. I am asking.
9. Because it would also be great, if I choose, to have the option NOT to marry my wife, just as heterosexual people can choose to take advantage of their right to marriage or not.
10. Because I love her. And that’s what we’ve been doing forever, right? Standing up in front of our people, being witnessed by our community, as we said “I do”?