I didn’t know marriage was an exclusive country club when I got married the first time. It’s absurd now to think of the benefits we inherited for ten minutes in a judge’s chambers. (I didn’t even write my own vows. We were like automatons.) I am grateful for people who have approached marriage with more awareness, especially those who have decided to forgo their privilege until it’s a right shared by all. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:
Growing up queer, I didn’t believe in marriage equality. I couldn’t believe in it because it didn’t apply to me. Marriage was something that belonged to a mainstream that I wasn’t a part of and never would be. As such, it wasn’t something I ever had to think about. It also wasn’t something I wanted.
Six years ago, everything I had considered on the topic was suddenly brought into question. I started and finished my transition from what society identified as female to male, I met a women who I loved, and became co-parent to a little superhero. The combination of my gender shift and the presence of a loving long-term relationship forced me into a scenario I could have never imagined – marriage was suddenly a possibility that was within my reach. At that moment, I realized that I had never wanted to get married
because I couldn’t. Because lusting after one more thing that society denied me for my identity would have only been handing them another way to hurt me.
Only when I could have marriage did I have a decision to make.
The irony in my situation was immutable – through loopholes, trans men and women had been allowed by heterosexual appearance to marry for years. While my identity was still equally hated and feared, I could be granted access to the Great Heterosexual Ritual (should I be willing to remain stealth) because my partner and I could look straight. Yes, somehow my appearance alone made me more equal than my friends, family, and loved ones.
Ultimately, I decided not to cross the picket line. Marriage was not something I could personally consider until everyone I know and love could consider it. I was raised on the backs of proud and strong queers both of my knowing and of our mutual history. I could not disrespect them by turning against them. I wouldn’t.
Marriage equality is marching slowly forward. Some members of my queer family, friends, and loved ones are now legally married to their partners, still others are denied. No pair of them loves each other more or less than the others. No pair of them deserves greater or fewer rights than the others. Any difference between them is man-made philosophy in their state of residency.
I support marriage equality because I have a choice to and I believe everyone deserves that choice. I support marriage equality because if a government is going to recognize love and give it benefits, such benefits should not be reliant on the type or quantity of sexual intercourse people partake in, or abstain from. It should not be based on heterosexual ideal or a bible no two people can agree on. Just as a man would not be prevented from marrying a woman he loves because penile cancer took his penis, no woman should be prevented from marrying a woman she loves because she was born without a penis altogether. The absence or presence of appendages, sanctioned sexual orientation, or personal identity does not change the depth, value, and commitment of a love between two people.
Grand Rapids, MI