Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Thoughts on Marriage

I wrote this a while ago, but since today is the Parliamentary "debate" on whether to "allow" same-sex couples to get married, I thought I'd post it. It's a stream of consciousness piece that is largely unedited.

I welcome attempts to create a more equal state of marriage than currently exists, after all if it exists then everyone should have the right to it. That is the basic way equality works. Setting aside for the moment that the proposed new legislation still throws a whole bunch of relationships under the bus, I want to explain why I am against marriage for me. I have no desire to get married myself, even though as a person in a heterosexual relationship I have that right already.

I do not want to get married because I see marriage as an outdated institution wrapped up in a whole bunch of problematic misogynistic, patriarchal and religious bullcrap that I don’t agree with. I don’t subscribe to a model of adulthood that includes marriage as a rite of passage or a marker of success and I don’t want the role of wife. I don’t want to be a wife and I don’t want to have a husband. I want my relationship to be as authentic as possible, as innovative as it can be and as true to who my partner and I are as people as we can manage. I am not interested in the cookie cutter ideal of what heterosexual relationships should be like, and that is what I feel is offered by marriage.

I don’t want to make a sacrament with God, and I certainly don’t want to invite the government into my relationship if at all possible. At a legal level, what marriage boils down to is having a certificate from the government saying that your relationship is sanctioned, it’s a proper relationship and better than other people’s. I would rather see the whole institution abolished so we can remove this discrimination against unmarried couples like myself, we who do not have ‘proper’ and officially sanctioned relationships. But that is unlikely to happen, and while ever it does exist I have as much right to decide not to get married as I do to get married. Other people don’t have that choice; it has been taken away from them. By denying certain people the right to marriage the government are essentially saying that some relationships can never be considered legitimate. And while I would prefer a system wherein all relationships are considered legitimate and equal because we have abolished the two tier system marriage creates, that is unlikely to happen any time soon. Therefore the only possible course of action, the one that ensures true equality is to offer marriage to people in every kind of consenting adult relationship. Giving same-sex couples the right to marry is just the first step along this road.

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