At twenty years of age, marriage isn’t a huge concern for me right now. There are exams to sit and pints to steal before I can worry myself with choosing which band will play the reception. My lack of caring is only augmented by the fact that I am agnostic and bisexual – both of which make not thinking about the inevitability in Ireland of a church wedding (should I marry a man) is a preferable state of being.
But just for a moment let’s say I am getting engaged. If my fiancee is a woman, I have two choices: I can get a civil partnership or I can wait. If my fiance is a man, I also have two choices: I can get married or I can wait. In the straight community, this is pretty much a non-issue; why get engaged if you can’t get married?
Wake up politicians!
Marriage is possibly the most important and personal commitment a person can make in their lives. And yet, there is such a political and legal aspect when it comes to same sex partners, such vehement opposition and/or legislative laziness that we are still waiting on equality for this basic human right. But I’m not here to talk about the progress of marriage equality in this country (although maybe the progress in the UK might inspire some of the higher ups here to get a move on), I want to ask whether there is worth in waiting.
As a member of the queer community, and a relatively politically active one, I am passionate about rights for LGBTQ people, and although marriage is not in the forefront of my mind, equality is. I want the right to spend my life with a woman if I so choose, and I want that right for the people I love. So, when I consider marrying a man, should marriage equality still not be in place, I don’t know what I would do. Is using the heterosexual privilege associated with falling in love with a man a betrayal to the community to whom I claim to be so loyal? Or does it make any difference at all?
Consider three friends. For the sake of argument, this group comprises a lesbian, a straight woman, and a bisexual woman, all on the brink of getting married. All are allied in the fight for same sex marriage; all are supportive of each other. Would you feel the same about the straight ally marrying the man as you would a bisexual? Or is this a lack of commitment to the cause? You could say that there is a touch of biphobia in saying that the bi woman will wait if she is a true member of the queer community. But then, a bi woman in a relationship with a man is not subject to the overt prejudice that same sex couples are.
Who does it help?
After years of stating that they would not tie the knot until same sex marriage was legal in all fifty states, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have announced their engagement. There has been mixed response from the gay community in the US, some stating that the couple are hypocrites, others wishing them well. Regardless, what we really need to ask is this: does holding off on marriage mean progress for the LGBTQ community?
It’s all fine and well for me to pontificate from my high horse; I have a choice where others don’t. But if the situations were reversed, would you marry the love of your life as soon as you could, or would you stand by your principles, and wait for everyone? What would I do?
I don’t know.