Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Heterosexual Marriage Guilt

As a heterosexual in a heterosexually-privileged society, I had a lot of qualms about getting married. I felt guilty about taking advantage of a system the confers benefits on certain people and not others. For example, NOLO delineates the myriad benefits bestowed on couples who marry. They range from tax benefits to hospital visitation rights.

Part of me thought Matt and I should boycott marriage until the United States recognized gay marriage across the board. But then I realized that the primary institution that would be hurt by a massive heterosexual boycott would be the Wedding Industrial Complex (and I'm not sure how much political sway it has).

I talked to one of my gay college professors about it, and she explained that one way to significantly contribute to the issue would simply be to use the term "partner" to refer to my "husband." If heterosexuals all refer to their significant others as "partners" rather than "hubands" and "wives,"--the argument goes--then gay people don't have to automatically out themselves every time they want to refer to the significant person in their lives.

She went on the explain that when she interviewed at her current university, she used the term "partner" and people immediately began speculating that she was gay.

Although I've been trying my best to use the term "partner" because I agree with her argument, I also wanted to do something more during the ceremony. I wanted to make a public statement against the discrimination that we all let happen.

Although Matt agrees with my outrage, he was worried about what his Irish-Catholic family would think. We were already rocking the boat with an outdoor ceremony, a best-friend rather than a minister for an officiant, and a $15 dress. He didn't want to outright alarm them or induce cardiac arrest.

At the same time, I reminded him that it takes courage to be the change you wish to see in the world. Usually, when things are most difficult, they are most in need of being done.

My best-friend, Andy, suggested that we reword our public statement of outrage into more of a celebration. Matt agreed with the compromise. Here's what we said during our ceremony:

Matt:

· As we gather here to solidify our commitment to each other, we would also like to celebrate the fact that California just joined the ranks of Massachusetts by finally starting to extend the rights and privileges of marriage to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

Sara:

· It moves us one step closer to fulfilling our nation’s promise to provide liberty and justice for all.




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3 comments:

Meg said...

yup, we're still figuring this out. We already refer to each other as partners, so that's done. We'll be married by two lesbian Rabbi's, as chance has it, so that is something else. And, we'll be married in CA where gay marraige will hopefully still be legal. But we're working out the rest. We might put a statement in the program. I'm mixed about saying something during the ceremony... for a lot of reasons, some of which I've written about.

Christina said...

"I realized that the primary institution that would be hurt by a massive heterosexual boycott would be the Wedding Industrial Complex (and I'm not sure how much political sway it has)."

You might be on to something here! Politics = $$. If we could cramp the WIC, it would be highly motivated to regain revenue.

Jennifer said...

Hi, I've just discovered this blog on a late night session in Sydney, Australia and it totally speaks to me. Our previous conservative government re-wrote a law so that all marriage ceremonies have to include the words a "Marriage is the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others". This law was introduced after one state legalised same sex unions. So I've been trying to figure out what to say before or after..."yet we hope one day marriage is available to everyone" or something to that effect. Great blog, the low consumerism, environmentalism it's brought me back to earth and my values again after viewing way too much wedding porn!

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