The Littlest Meap

This post is romantically interested in posts of the same gender

Posted by: meaplet on: June 17, 2008

With all the preparations for Pride this year, it’s already a breathless season. Increasing the fervor of the season, of course, was the beginning of gay marriage in California yesterday at 5 pm. I watched coverage from some of the first gay weddings last night, live on the local news. It’s exciting to live in a state with legal gay marriage again.

On the other hand, a visit to my old roommates last weekend gave me another reminder about the problems that come along with gay marriage–the enforcement of the same norms that affect straight people. For as long as gay relationships exist only outside the law, all sorts of extra-legal legal precedents can sneak their way in. In the case of my former roommates, three lesbians who decided to raise a child together, gay marriage ruins the hopes they had of securing a three-parent adoption for their little girl once she was a toddler and they could argue their parental rights.

For so long, homosexuality has been an outstanding shelter for any number of norm-violating sexual and romantic arrangements–polyamory, kink, domestic partnerships without marriage, etc.– that heteros have engaged in too, but which have generally been more accepted in the queer world than in the world at large. With the harsh light of legal marriage shining on gays and lesbians, will we all line up and join the establishment? What happens to folks who don’t want to?

I continue to hold out hope that the government will step out of the business of providing “marriage” as a concept and will just do civil unions, leaving folks to chose whatever idea of marriage works for them, be it traditional or nontraditional. (This is one of the times I side with libertarians on an issue.) However, the precedent does not seem to be heading that way.

In other news, looks like Google is branding search results containing terms related to gay pride with rainbows. For a limited time only! Catch it while you can!

ETA: As usual, Alison Bechdel has commented on a similar aspect of things that is both subtler than what I’ve said here, and more poignant.

5 Responses to "This post is romantically interested in posts of the same gender"

I hadn’t even considered the possible impact of the gay-marriage law on people outside of a two-person relationship. O_o Nice points.

Wow, is there a precedent for three-parent adoptions? I’d never thought of that.

Where civil unions are concerned, is there a precedent for changing the name of a government-recognized contract across the board? For some reason the first thing that springs to mind here (as a naming issue, not a marriage issue) is the fact that the UK can’t stop Camilla from being Queen of England if and when Prince Charles ever ascends to the throne, not without changing the constitution of the UK and every commonwealth country. But everyone has agreed to call her the Duchess of Cornwall anyway. The US could, I suppose, come to a similar agreement and say that what we now call marriage will henceforth be referred to as civil unions, even though technically the law calls it marriage. But I doubt people would go along with that in any significant numbers. Most married/civil unionized people would want to call themselves married, much more than anyone wants to talk about Queen Camilla. Meanwhile, for the language change to be official and written down, there would be scads (I counted) of laws that would need their wording revised. I don’t know how much time and process would have to be sunk into that task, but it doesn’t sound like an easy sell.

So I agree with your position philosophically–the idea that the government recognizes a contract, the participants of which may or may not choose to consider it a marriage–but I guess I don’t see how that change would be effected.

(France does have entirely different concepts of civil and religious marriage, but I’ve never quite understood the way they handle it–you have to have a civil ceremony before you’re allowed to have a religious one. If the religious ceremony doesn’t count toward the civil contract, why does the state care when you have it?)

(AND JUST TO MAKE THIS COMMENT LONGER, I am glad to see on the comments to Alison Bechdel’s blog that someone has saved the Amazon bookstore. I’ve never been there but I know there was at least one big fan of theirs among my mom’s store’s clientele. She was (and still is, I presume) a very interesting lady, a lesbian minister therapist barista, and I am highly in favor of bookstores for interesting people.)

Marjorie, I think your comment is longer than my entry was in the first place. To be fair, my entry was the work of maybe 5 minutes this morning after mulling on the topic for the last day or so.

I absolutely agree that the government backing out of the marriage business is really unlikely at this point. On top of the bureaucratic obstacles you mention, there’s clear momentum in the opposite direction. When faced with a situation of civil inequality, it’s a lot easier to give the have-nots the same rights as the haves than it is to sit back and say “Hmmm, should we rethink the underlying concepts that we’ve been relying on for social continuance for the last several centuries and come up with a new system from scratch?”

To make a programming analogy, it’s a lot faster to hack new code on top of old crufty code than is to rework systems from scratch, particularly since setting up a system has the huge latency of adjusting and working out all the bugs of the new implementation. Ok. Done with my super geeky aside.

I’m not sure how secure the actual precedent for three-parent adoptions is. When [roommate 1] was pregnant with [small child], they were advised by a lawyer that there was some precedent, but that the best way to follow it would be to give initial custody to the biological parents (including the sperm donor) until the child was old enough that the non-biological parents could establish a history of relationships with the child. In the case of actual married parents, though, children can only legally have two parents–when a step-parent adopts a child, the biological parent looses all rights. And now that homosexuality has actual laws acknowledging its validity, standard law applies to it.


Another thing I’m curious/concerned about in the wake of gay marriage is the sort of smaller scale things that have benefited all sorts of non-married couples because of gay couples. For example, I imagine that the many employers who gave health insurance to extralegal domestic partners are going to stop doing so now that they can. (This is less of an issue in California, which has had an equivalent practice for civil Domestic Partnerships as it’s had for marriage, but this could prove to be really annoying in future states that accept gay marriage.)


You’re right, both comment were longer than the entry. Talking about Amazon pushed mine over the top. I, um, totally didn’t use the word count feature in MS Word to figure this out. The big open mouth on the little monster image that represents me here is, I think, fitting.

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