Forget gay marriage, where’s my straight civil partnership?
Shacking up with whoever you want should be a human right
Last May, everyone was pretty gassed about Ireland legalising equal marriage. Shortly after, in June, the US did the same. People were all super buzzed or had a little homophobic cry or shrugged and went about their days, but what everyone had in common was that they missed the bigger issue.
Except Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan. A heterosexual couple, they applied for a civil partnership and were rejected.
This is bollocks, and here’s why.
A Christian marriage is not a Sikh marriage and is not a Muslim marriage. They are all religious institutions, set down by word of their respective Gods and should be subject only to the consciences of their practitioners. If the Catholic church maintains that homosexuality is immoral, that’s bollocks, but that’s their business. If a renegade Catholic priest wants to defy that and marry a gay couple, then more power to ’em. But they are not state institutions, and so should not be forced to promote a view by law.
‘Civil’ is literally defined in the OED as meaning “Relating to ordinary citizens and their concerns, as distinct from military or ecclesiastical matters”. So whilst marriages are ecclesiastical partnerships, the state’s alternative for those members of its citizenry who want the same tax breaks whilst remaining solely secular would be something with ‘civil’ in the name. A partnership that is civil. Hmm.
I’m not a religious man. Atheist is a bit strong, and agnostic sounds too indecisive, but I’m quite partial to the term apatheist. Either way, if I was to find a bae someday and we eventually decided that what we had was so good that we should “get the government in on this shit“, I demand the option of getting a purely pragmatic, secular civil partnership so I can tick the box on the census that gets me tax breaks (or whatever the government gives you idk) with a clear conscience.
“But”, I hear you cry, “What’s wrong with just getting a registry office marriage like everyone else you bloody pedant?” The issue is that that is still a marriage. I have my secular and linguistic objections, other have egalitarian objections (Steinfeld and Keidan oppose marriage on the basis “that it is a ‘patriarchal’ institution”). Still others oppose it on the basis that it reinforces a traditionally monogamous ideal and “ruin[s what was a] commitment-free sanctuary”.
When I was talking about this with a friend, they brought up that “marriage is more than a religious institution, it’s a societal institution steeped in years of history.” True, a societal institution steeped in years of discriminatory, exclusive history. I dunno about you, but I’m not too pumped up over the idea of supporting such an institution. Your mileage may vary.
Steinfeld and Keiden are expected to take their case to the Court of Appeals. Personally—at least until the glorious polyamorous revolution—I wish them the best of luck and hope that one day the love between me and another will no longer be restricted by outdated laws, propped up by people who refuse to let the future arrive.
What a nice notion.