There has been lots of news–mostly bad–about the fight for marriage equality in the States.** Not only do I feel for my many friends who are prevented from legally wedding, I believe that institutionalizing same-sex marriage is crucial if we’re going to actually live our stated “and justice for all” values (the patriarchy-smashing aspect is good, too).
So why aren’t I married? I’m always on about that Dude I live with, right? We just celebrated our 12th Unniversary this weekend (if by “celebrated” you mean said “huh, twelve years…pretty crazy'”). If I’m down with commitment, and I think the right to marry is so all-fired important for queer couples, why don’t I make it legal already?
I could jabber all day about why, but for your reading convenience, I’ll boil it down into three main reasons. Walk down the aisle (of my thinking) with me.
1. I fucking hate weddings. I have always hated weddings, even before a undergraduate research project on the Wedding Industrial Complex revealed how far reaching and insidious it is. Even if you think marriage is nifty, weddings are insipid frippery; they have nothing to do with being in a relationship. I hate the froofed-up pretty princess aesthetic, I hate the Passing of the Woman from dad to dude, I hate all the things you “must” do, like have a guest book, and include your friends reading bad poetry, and make everyone do the Chicken Dance at the reception. I hate that everyone–no, really, everyone–thinks that their wedding was totally original and personalized and equalicious, even though you could set your watch by the lighting of Unity Candles, and virginity fetishism is in full effect and jeezusgawd if I ever hear Canon in D again I will destroy the universe with my explosive scorn. I may have just triggered one thousand defensive “you’re judging me!” comments, but so be it. I’m glad you found a loving companion, but I fucking hate weddings. Even yours.
2. Though I am no libertarian (perish the thought!), I don’t like the idea that government or society-at-large gets to decide that certain relationships count more than others. Even though I know there are all sorts of benefits to being married, I’m not interested in saying “well, before the twenteenth of Smarch our relationship wasn’t real enough, but now the state of Missitucky says it’s okay for you to visit me in the hospital.” That’s straight-up bullshit, and I’m grateful that more and more people are recognizing it as such. Pilgrim Soul has written before about the privileging of hetero love-matches over all other relationships, and certainly we’ve heard from a number of our readers who, like me, are in permanent-but-not-licensed relationships (we are among the 12 million co-habiters in the US), as well as many who would welcome a “non-traditional” living arrangement, like our oft-mentioned Harpy House. Just as [dad + mom + 2.3 kids + golden retriever] is no guarantee of “family,” a marriage license is no guarantee of a mutuality or partnership. (Neither is living together, of course.)
3. And last of all, I don’t want to be married. I really never have. Despite cultural messages overwhelmingly to the contrary, I never daydreamed while growing up about a big rock, a white dress, or being whisked away by Mr. HisLastName. I didn’t dream about finding my Other Half. Hell, I didn’t even dream about being monogamous; I thought a small group of kind/hot/reliable boyfriends, none of whom lived with me, was the best option. (The idea is still has its appeal.) I didn’t–and don’t–want to be a wife, with all of the emotional baggage of that term. I want to be a friend and a lover and a partner.
4. (I lied. There are four.) I’m not religious, so the idea of asking for cosmic approval of my household arrangements is even more absurd than registering with my state. I believe in the existence of the state, at least. The fact is that most religious objection to both same-sex marriage and cohabitation is based on a serious case of obsessive panty-sniffing: somewhere, someone is getting it on, and IT MUST BE STOPPED. My reactionary streak makes me wanna go jump the Dude’s bones whenever I hear that.
* * *
I don’t ever intend to marry, and that puts me in the minority of cohabitors. Although I do get tired of answering The Question (I’ve stopped saying anything about my personal life to students, who, while surprisingly queer-friendly, are invariably shocked, if not scandalized, to think that marriage is not the goal of a relationship). I don’t believe it would deepen my feelings for the Dude or enrich our life together. To the contrary, it would make me feel like my relationship was no longer my own. And if what benefits government and society is “stable committed relationships,” government and society might consider getting the hell out of my–and my queer friends’–way.
I leave you with some of the lyrics to a song that the Dude dug up for me a few years ago: “Darling Annie,” by the still ass-kicking Peggy Seeger (who typically performed it with her longtime love Ewan MacColl):
EM: If you marry me, I’ll give you everything I have;
You won’t ever need to earn a penny
I will be your man and the ring upon your hand
Will show the world that you’re my darling Annie.
PS: Dearest love, I’ll be glad to add your wages onto mine
I can work and keep myself so handy;
You can be my man without a golden wedding band
For I’ll tell the world that I’m your Annie.
For it’s love, love will hold us, love is everything
Who could dream of anything that’s better?
Not the vow, not the string, not the golden wedding ring
Just you, love, you and me together.
Damn, I’m such a softie.
*Title stolen from Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller. The companion site to their book is here.
**I’m hoping that New Jersey Senate gets this issue right before the repugnant Chris Christie takes over as governor next month.