A few weeks ago, I was part of an email exchange about Obama and his unwillingness to be more vocal in his support for marriage equality. One of the participants made a very big deal out of the language being used after another person said “SSM” for same-sex marriage. Guy #2 used it as short-hand, thinking we were all talking about the same issue. Guy #1 felt that the manage used is of utmost importance, and chided guy #2 for his failure to be more purist and use the term marriage equality.

On the surface, I agree that what we are fighting for is marriage equality. Gay and lesbian couples seek the right to the same legal recognition of our relationships as straight couples. Having the same legal options equals equality. Get it? For some, talking about same-sex marriage implies special rights. Straights don’t want straight marriage, they just want marriage, and so do gays and lesbians.

Then, the day came when New York gay and lesbian couples could legally marry, and I listened to the coverage on OutQ radio. Person after person kept talking about “same-sex marriage” and “same-sex weddings.” And I’ve been thinking about this ever since.

Marriage Equality is the public civil struggle that enables gays and lesbians to have same-sex marriage and same-sex weddings. On some level, if my partner and I marry, we are having a wedding, and not really a same-sex wedding, but I’m not sure that language is sufficient, especially at this phase of the struggle for Equality.  Naming our marriages and weddings as “same-sex” is very much a part of the ongoing struggle that must continue until all people are treated equally including gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans persons. Naming what we do as same-sex is a “coming out” and “being out” action meaningful, especially to those who do not yet have that right themselves. It is similar to the march cry of: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.”

Gays and lesbians are relegated to second class citizenship when we allow our lives to be kelp silent and in the closet. We are active participants in limiting ourselves when we accept this silence. Naming our actions as same-sex is one way to break that silence.

Additionally, all of the arguments against our owning the right to marriage are based entirely on our sexual orientation. We are denied, not because we want marriage, but because we are gay and lesbian. We confront the reality of the opposition when we seek and speak out for gay marriage, or same-sex marriage.

Marriage Equality is a concept worth fighting for, but a part of that battle is to name our relationships, our marriages and our weddings for what they are: same-sex where they are as valid and meaningful, and legal as anyone else’s.


Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbart/ as per creative common’s license

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