Life / Sex & relationships

Gay Marriage Does Affect My Heterosexual Marriage

LawfullyWeddedLife

Clare Davina, a longtime regular contributor here at Lesbian Family (first post: 12 July 2007!), also blogs at Musings from inside, outside, and underneath Her post below is the tenth in our Lawfully Wedded Life series, and the first to look at heterosexually wedded life and how same-sex wedded life affects it. 

Do you have a story to tell about marriage, marriage equality, or the lack thereof? Submit yours here. We’ll be running the series through the SCOTUS marriage equality decision(s), expected late June 2013.

 

LegalMarriage

Wearing PJs at my “legal” wedding as my personal protest against a discriminatory institution.

Like so many heterosexual couples, I believe that allowing gays to marry will have a direct affect on the legitimacy of my marriage.

Like many of my gay friends, my husband and I had two weddings: the “legal wedding” and the “real” wedding.

You see, while my husband and I have always been legally allowed to marry, it isn’t yet an institution we approve of.

For his part, S believes that government shouldn’t be defining marriage and religion shouldn’t have any influence on government. He has always said, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is one. In this case, ducks are marriage and love. Everyone should be allowed to have ducks!

On my side, I feel guilt everyday for being part of and discriminatory institution. I am acutely aware that if my husband had a vagina, the US government wouldn’t have given her a green card. I likely couldn’t carry on with the job I have. My healthcare likely wouldn’t cover my stay-at-home spouse. We might not be given the right to visit one another in the hospital or make medical decisions for one another if it were ever needed.  I wouldn’t get as much back in taxes (since my spouse is a stay at home parent and we live on one salary, this tax return is important).  More than 1,000 other rights and responsibilities wouldn’t be ours.

Some heterosexual couples have decided to boycott marriage until these rights and responsibilities are given to all.  I respect that.  It is something I have considered.  Ultimately, for us, the need for those rights (particularly because of my work situation and immigration issues) made marriage a necessity.  It would have been a necessity if my spouse had been female, it just wouldn’t have been an option.

RealWedding2

Weddings are about joy and love and commitment. They should all come with the legal rights and responsibilities.

Our legal marriage was performed by my sister, a judge. We did it before work one Monday. She stayed over night on a blow up mattress in the living room so she could perform the ceremony. S and I stayed in our pajamas– our personal protest, showing disdain for an institution that we aren’t comfortable with. Afterward, we had blueberry pancakes. We had no witnesses (unless you count the dog). No cake. No vows. We only had flowers because my sister brought them as a surprise. No music. No celebration. No kiss. I made in to work on time despite Monday morning traffic.

We did get a piece of paper with three signatures. A piece of paper and hundreds of rights, responsibilities, and protections.

My real wedding was held later that summer. It was a commitment ceremony held in an Indian restaurant, attended by friends and family, filled with laughter, love, and cake. We had our own readings. A priest was in attendance, but only as a family friend. We had a photographer. When I think of my wedding, this is the day I remember.

Like so many in heterosexual marriages, gay marriage does affect my marriage. It will make it more valid, because it will make it an institution I am proud to be a part of.

RealWedding

My parents and I enjoying my wedding. I love this photo because of the joy in my father’s face seeing his little girl get married. I know he would have been just as proud if my partner were a woman.

Tags: , , , , ,

2 Comments

  1. Gay marriage has direct effects on the legitimacy of my heterosexual marriage also, and in a different ways than you mention…

    As an easy example, my wife and kids attended one of our lesbian friend’s weddings this weekend (while I was at a funeral), and there were discussions in the car, about what marriage is and wedding traditions and things like that. Our kids think of their marriage and our marriage as two examples of the same thing …

    But far more importantly and directly, I’m in early stages of some kind of gender transition. Just because my marriage is “heterosexual” at the moment, doesn’t mean it will still be a few years from now. I know that in my state, if I choose to alter the gender on my birth certificate, my marriage will “end” (And in a legally odd way, it isn’t a divorce, or an annulment, or a voidable marriage, or a marriage void ab initio. It is an odd side effect of the opposition to gay marriage that the re-definitions of marriage to be only between a man and a woman, have created a whole new way to end marriages …). Maybe I will choose not to alter my birth certificate because of the legal advantages or marriage, (or maybe for some other reason there is a lot of consider). But if I lived in a state that did not discriminate against gay marriage, that would be one less problem for my own not-exactly-gay-at-the-moment marriage.

    Life is messy, Real people and real relationships don’t always fit neatly into boxes. Legalizing gay marriage has this very direct benefit to heterosexual marriages that it makes them more secure, by making it more possible for people in heterosexual marriages to examine themselves honestly without fear that outsiders will revoke their marriage by re-interpreting it as a gay marriage. Even if they examine themselves and decide to stay as they have been, that process is easier without the fear of legal entanglements …

    • Thanks BP for this unique take. I had never really stopped to consider how transition could nullify a marriage— what an awful murky place that just shouldn’t exist.

      Good luck with your transition! Based on your kids reaction to marriage and love— it seems like you and your wife are well on the path to figuring it out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.