When Squirrel and I were planning our wedding one of the things that really bothered me was the fact that we could. Get married, that is. Purely because we’re straight.
I looked through our guest list and realized we had a number of friends coming who were gay – several of them long-term couples. It felt so ugly and discriminatory, and even though I knew our friends probably wouldn’t feel this way, to me it felt like we were throwing our heterosexual privilege in their faces.
I wanted to make a big statement, like having someone read the text of the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Preferably my flamboyant friend Pancake. In drag.
Squirrel, being much more understated and less willing to piss off our fundamental Christian relatives, wanted something a little more subtle. In the end, we compromised, and to this day I still regret the watered-down wording we chose.
So here’s what I wish we would have said. It’s beautiful, and spells out exactly why marriage is not a privilege but a right.
FROM GOODRIDGE V DEPT OF HEALTH (Mass. 2003):
Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations. Without question, civil marriage enhances the welfare of the community. It is a social institution of the highest importance. It is central to the way the Commonwealth identifies individuals, provides for the orderly distribution of property, ensures that children and adults are cared for and supported whenever possible from private rather than public funds, and tracks important epidemiological and demographic data. Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a civil right.
I am so thankful that California has made a similar decision, and I urge everyone to vote No on Proposition 8 and affirm the dignity and equality of all Californians.
Oh, and for those who are still using the “but they’ve got civil unions” argument? Although it probably won’t be the last time anyone says this to you, it should be:
Separate is not fucking equal.