What UK Marriage Equality Means to Me
When it came out in the news that the UK government was considering changing the law to allow same sex couples to marry, I jokingly suggested to my partner in a Facebook status update that we get married.
I say jokingly because marriage was never something I particularly wanted or felt I needed. I was happy to support the fight for marriage equality, though I didn’t think I’d ever want to use the right myself. My partner later told me how surprised he was that I suggested it, even as a joke.
A year and a half later, we are just married. It was a very simple ceremony. There were just two guests to act as witnesses, no more. No flower arrangements, no seating plan, no rings.
You see the main motivation for me and my partner of nine years to marry is to have the legal benefits and protections of the union; we’re not particularly interested in the ceremonial stuff or in sharing our love with the world. It is personal; it is for us.
Really, the main protections we will get as a married couple (at least in countries that will recognise our union) are a kind of insurance policy that only become relevant in the worst potential moments of our life together.
If one of us is dying in hospital, the other has the right to visit at any time and without question; if we own property together, one of us won’t be forced to leave when the other dies in order to liquidate the dead partner’s assets. Of course there are positive benefits too, such as paying a slightly lower rate of income tax, but that’s not what we’re doing it for.
However, it’s not all cold, legalese to me. It took me a while to realise (or perhaps rather, to admit to myself), but there is a part of me that is somewhat sentimental about the whole thing. I will enjoy introducing my partner as my husband, ironically co-opting (and perhaps also simultaneously subverting) the elevated status of couples that are married rather than those that are not.
Though we don’t plan to live in the UK again, I am quite proud to be from a country that has had the sense to introduce marriage equality. I now make the most of that right gratefully, in the hope that future generations of same sex couples who want to marry in the UK will not have to think that they are privileged to be able to do so, because they really aren’t.
If you’re not from a country that has marriage equality (or even if you are) and you have a partner you want to have control of important decisions should you not be able to make them for yourself consider setting up a simple power of attorney, as it will be recognised in almost every country in the world. Also, setting up your wills in such a way that you leave your assets to each other could make things a little easier too.