Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Same Gender Marriages in VERMONT are happening NOW!!

And what's extra sweet is that Vermont is the first state that did this through its legislature rather than through the courts.


Here's a link to a full article on the first Gay couple to get legally married under Vermont's new law!

My one point is that I wish the article wasn't titled "Same-Sex Marriages Begin In Vermont." Because I think that when most straight people hear "Same-Sex" they focus on the "SEX" part, and suddenly our relationships and our rituals and our lives are reduced to what we do in bed.

Suddenly, the sweet story of Bill Slimback and Bob Sullivan getting married at one minute past midnight,

Dressed in suits, saying their vows under a large wall-mounted moose head, the two Whitehall, N.Y., men promised their love, exchanged rings and held hands during a modest 17-minute ceremony. Moose Meadow Lodge co-owner Greg Trulson, who's also a Justice of the Peace, presided.

Is read with the filter of it being all about sex.

And for many straight people who aren't particularly comfortable with the idea of sex between men (for some reason, lesbians turn them on) our marriages end up being categorized as belonging on a edgy HBO series like OZ (think prison shower rape scenes) rather than the reference points most marriages have - loving, honoring, cherishing, standing up before friends and family and saying to the world:

This is my love, for all time. Support us. Celebrate us. Today, with this ritual, we are a new family.
Because no matter the gender of the couple getting married, THAT'S what marriage is about.

Welcome to all the same-gender couples who are getting legally married in Vermont.

My husband and I raise a glass of sparkling apple juice and toast you!



ps - For an interesting blog post on the lesson Obama can learn on Health Care Reform from the legalization of Same Gender Marriage in Vermont, check this out.


HWPetty said...

That's a great point, Lee. I'm totally going to change my vocabulary on that.

And congrats to Vermont!

jlr said...

I know it's annoying that the term "same-sex" makes folks think of sex instead of the entirety of a relationship, but it's more accurate. Marriage laws in this country do not discriminate on the basis of gender - they discriminate based on sex. A cisgendered man and a transgendered woman are not a same gender couple, but the law sees them as a same-sex couple, and does not allow them to wed. Similarly, a cisgendered man and a transgendered man are a same-gender couple, but the law would see them as an opposite sex couple and would allow them to wed. (This assumes that the trans folks still have birth certificates and driver's licenses indicating their sex as assigned at birth.)

I think it is much more helpful to use the term "marriage equality." It is inclusive of all sexualities and all genders.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Thanks HWPetty for rethinking the words you (and we all) use - words have power!

And jlr, I actually had to look up "cisgendered" - wikipedia says it's someone who is comfortable with the gender they're born into. So you're saying that a man who is coupled with a Female To Male transgendered man wouldn't be allowed to marry because of their "sex" - what I would call their "gender." The FTM is changing their gender, and part of that is changing their sexual identification. I think "sex" as a word in our culture takes most people right to the VERB. Gender seems to be the word most used to describe whether someone identifies as a man or a woman, which is why I like "Same-Gender" marriage.
In fact, I remember reading in the news about a couple, one cisgendered man and one man who transitioned to female, and once the Male To Female transgendered person changed their birth certificate to reflect their new gender, they were seen by the law as not a gay couple, but as an opposite-gender couple, and they were allowed to get legally married.

"Marriage Equality" is nice, but it's drawback is that it sounds like we're reluctant to mention that it's equality for GAY people.

Maybe we just need to use all the terms, "Gay Marriage" "Same Gender Marriage" "Marriage Equality" and leave out the "Same-Sex Marriage."

However each of us chooses to move forward with the words we use, it's great that we're all recognizing the power of language. It's a fascinating discussion, and I'm so glad to have all your thoughts and input.



Eat the Love said...

Actually Lee, I think you're confusing what JLR said.

Gender and gender identity is specific to what a person internally identify with - it has nothing to do with your physical parts or physical body.

Sex, however, deals specifically with your physical body.

Thus you can be born a man but identity as a woman (transgender) but still have the physical body of a man (pre-operation). This pre-op transgendered person legally could marry a woman (who gender identifies as a woman, called cisgender, and has the physical body, her sex, of a woman) and - thus be in a same-gender marriage, but not a same-sex marriage.

I know it's confusing, but gender and sex are not the same thing. One is based on the physical body (sex) and one is based on the internal psychological identity (gender). That's why same-sex marriage is actually more accurate. Because same-gender marriage IS legal - if you have different body parts (pre-op). Same sex (regardless of what gender you identify with) marriage is only legal in 6 states.

Saying Same Gender Marriage isn't the same as saying Same Sex Marriage.

For me, the confusion between the two shows just how intertwined the transgendered movement is with the gay/les/bi movement. I get really frustrated and annoyed with gays in the community who try to say "well I don't know why they always include transgender in with us, I have nothing to do with those people..."

I have no personal issues with the term same-sex marriage. Not only is it more accurate but it's now such a common term that to change it seems apologetic. And I personally refuse to apologize with who I love and who I have sex with. But that's just me.

I can certainly understand the politics involved. Which is why a term like "Marriage Equality" makes sense. Sure it takes the "gay" out of it, but it also puts the marriage issue in the same playing field as inter-racial marriage which makes a ton of sense from a political perspective.

Anonymous said...

"Same-gender" is more appropriate than "same-sex".

I am a heterosexual woman myself (men are beautiful) but I've read somewhere that we, the human race, are getting better as generations come and go. Naturally, I will continue to raise my two daughters with my values yet strive to balance that out with teaching them to not be judgemental. And I think that passing that same-sex law wouldn't hurt us but MAYBE somehow make us better as a human race...who knows what the future holds.

Congrats Vermont!

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

jlr has left a new comment on your post "Same Gender Marriages in VERMONT are happening NOW...":


I think what you're forgetting is that sex and gender are two very different things. Sex is biological, and gender is social, psychological and more.

Also, not everyone can afford surgery, which is often necessary to get a change to one's legal documents, which is also costly, and some states do not change the sex on one's birth certificate under any circumstances, ever. So it's not crazy to think that there would be same gendered couples who can already marry legally (based on what the State thinks their sexes are) and different gendered couples who can't legally marry (for the same reason), and thus reject the term "same-gender marriage" for it's lack of specificity or correctness.

The term "marriage equality" is pretty clear, given all the news coverage of the issue recently. It also reinforces the fact that queer folks aren't asking for anything separate, or different, or special. We're asking for the same legal rights and privileges everyone else already has.


This comment was hand-pasted due to my error. Sorry about that!

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Hmm. You know, jlr and jackhonky, I see your point.

The distinction and confusion of sex and gender in our culture really does show how much the "T" is entwined with the GLBTQ community.

And if "Same-Gender" marriage is not a term that's inclusive of the equality we're fighting for, then by all means, let's use "marriage equality."

And still, I think that these discussions are crucial, because that's how the world changes - the more people discuss and understand, the better off we all are!



MotherReader said...

Lately I've been loving the phrase marriage equality. Your hesitation is that it downplays the gay, but my argument is that it forces the issue of equality.

I've read a few places that when people are presented with different rights that marriage equality would allow, they are okay with it. But then they'll say their against gay marriage. People (some people) will allow themselves to be against gay - but it's much harder to let themselves believe that they are against equality.

I think this is the direction the campaign needs to pursue, especially in the African-American community where some ministers are holding up the process. (As evidenced in DC where the metro population is comfortable with recognizing same-sex marriage but African-American ministers are leading a crusade against it. We're like this close.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Hi Pam! Thanks for your comment. You know, I like the term "Marriage Equality." My problem with it is really how the "No on Proposition 8" campaign was handled here in california. The entire media strategy was all about "equality" and they went out of their way to avoid talking about that it was equality for gay men and lesbians. Every commercial on the air avoided showing gay (GLBTQ) people. It was a straight old couple, talking about their grown daughter who wasn't there. It was a latina woman, who couldn't get past some parked cars to marry her man, with a voice over saying (what if you couldn't marry who you loved?) I guess it just felt like the campaign was ashamed of it being equality for GAY people, and it came off as disingenuous. I'm all for talking it up as "marriage equality" but it needs to also be CLEAR that it's marriage for us Gays.
No one's going to force the anti-gay marriage preachers/ministers/priests to marry gay couples - this is CIVIL marriage rights we're fighting for, and really religion should be kept out of it entirely.
Thanks for being such a great ALLY!
Namaste and a Hug,