Our good friend Gemma has written an article on gay marriage and asked me a few things about why it should be called marriage. Click the picture to view the whole thing.
Last week I sent this email to our local MP, Hywel Williams of Plaid Cymru:
I live in Arfon and have heard only good things about you and the way you engage with the people you represent. I know you have a strong record of supporting equality and want to add my voice to those calling for marriage equality.
As someone who is organising a civil partnership for this summer I can tell you that although the law allows for gay couples’ rights, navigating the system we have to work within is very strange and unwelcoming. Having compared my own experience to the process of arranging a marriage I am left quite dissatisfied with the provisions made for same sex couples.
It’s been an interesting few weeks for us. Very busy with lots of friends coming and going. We’re being offered help from here, there and everywhere (which is lovely) but really we have to go off and do the time consuming things that can’t be done over the phone, online or by someone else. Mostly dresses. I feel like a quick hike up to Mordor would take less time and effort than finding the right dress is going to. We’ll be taking a weekend to travel to The Big City and find dresses that we love. This is not going to be as fun as it sounds. For me shopping has traditionally been a traumatic experience. As Jenny would say “Hey TopShop, do you have this in size fat?” but when you’re an awkward teenager, you think TopShop shouldn’t carry size fat and you should be 10 dress sizes smaller than you are regardless of what size that is. Hence, years later, I just about manage to look the changing room attendent in the eye without thinking “she thinks I’m too fat to wear these clothes”. So a weekend of this is going to be fun! I’m considering turning the whole thing into a bridal bingo competition. I’ll keep you posted on that one.
In other news, this is the current list of things we need to finalise:
Printing, pressing and sending invitations, restaurant negotiations, buying the rings and what will actually be said at the ceremony (remember “I promise to be your special friend and platonically hold your hand in public from now until forever as my right kindly given to me by the civil partnership act of 2004 yak yak”).
Things we need to start organising/questions we still need to answer:
Dresses, shoes, jewellery, favours, flowers, do we want a cake? Is it going to be incongruously traditional? Are we going to have two brides on top? Are we going to throw bouquets? Will we both throw bouquets? What will that mean for the people who catch them? This is getting ridiculous.
As you see there is still much fun to be had. 5 months to go and I’m haunted by the image of a white fruitcake with two gowned brides on top.
I leave you with this beauty, recieved this morning from the registry office:
We were on page 2 of The Independent today!
Jennifer is an American student at Bangor University in Wales. She is due to enter a civil partnership with her English fiancée Georgia Mannion in July.
“The whole attitude of the state towards civil partnerships seems to be that this is not the same as getting married, that it is more like a promise between friends. That is disappointing because it feels like the romance is being taken out of our big day. I do want to marry my partner for the advantages* it gives. But that does not change the fact that I want to marry my partner because I love her.”
“I’d love my family to come to the wedding ceremony”
*Jenny said “rights” not “advantages”, what she said to the reporter has been paraphrased.
You can read the whole thing here but the piece in the actual paper was better:
Stonewall have introduced The Extension of Marriage to Same-Sex Couples Bill 2012 which would make civil partnerships marriages. It looks interesting. It would mean same-sex couples would have exactly the same rights as married ones.
It’s very short because there aren’t many differences between “marriage” and civil partnerships. The main difference for me is that my civil partnership (to be) feels like everything a marriage is already, I’m just being made to call it something different and THAT is where the split is. It’s that you can’t have a religious civil ceremony (no one can) but then there’s no alternative for same sex couples. There’s also the man from the council who will correct you when you call it a marriage, because it’s not a marriage, it’s different for you because you are different.
If this bill will do anything it’ll make same-sex couples feel more normal. There’s nothing normal about planning a wedding anyway. There’s nothing normal about people fussing over your dress (or suit) or your rings or who is going to throw the bouquet.
Everyone is brought up to expect to get married and taught about the very specific rituals of it. Since there’s no “ritual” expected for same-sex couples it should invoke a kind of freedom, but people still expect all the same things from you. But you aren’t allowed to call it a marriage.
Here’s the link to Stonewall’s bill: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/documents/stonewallmarriagebill.pdf
I’m looking into the technical details of the ceremony and almost can’t believe what we have to say. The “Arranging a marriage” section is all “we want this to be a day you’ll remember for the rest of your happily married lives etc etc”, the civil partnership section starts with “The Civil Partnership Act 2004 introduced a new legal relationship for same-sex couples wishing to make a formal, lifelong commitment to each other.” Gosh that’s so liberating. I feel just like this is nothing out of the ordinary…
Here is the actual wording from the section about the ceremony:
Your ceremony will begin with a welcome and introduction by the celebrant who explains that you will be making a formal and public declaration of your love, and a promise of lifelong dedication to each other.
I feel patronised already.
There is an opportunity at this point for a reading.
You will then be invited to make the declarations which you will later sign in your civil partnership schedule. Each of you will be asked to recite the following words:
- In the presence of our family, friends and witnesses here today, I declare that I know of no legal reason why we may not register as each others civil partner. I understand that on signing the partnership schedule we will be forming a civil partnership with each other
So that doesn’t sound too bad.
You will each then be invited to make your second declaration as follows:
- I…….promise you……to be loving, faithful, loyal and kind and to support you for as long as we live, whatever the future may bring. You are my partner, my friend and the one I love
- I promise you that I will cherish our love and I will be faithful as your partner and your friend until my life ends
Your partner and your friend!? God what a strange thing to say. Maybe I’ll add “I promise this is not a phase”.
The moment will then arrive for the exchanging of rings (or gifts). If you are exchanging rings, you will each be asked to place your ring on your partner’s finger and say following words, which may be varied by prior arrangement:
- I give you this ring, on this special day in our lives, as a symbol of my everlasting love and commitment to you. I hope that you will wear it with happiness and pride, now and always.
Well I just feel ill. I think it will be being varied, there’s no way I’m calling this our “special day” because I’m not one of Julia Roberts’ patronising friends in Runaway Bride.
There is an opportunity here for a further reading.
We’ll probably choose something from Harry Potter.
The Partnership Registrar will conclude the ceremony with the following form of words:
- ……. and ……… you have made commitments to each other in the presence of your family, friends and witnesses and in so doing you have made a promises to live your lives together
- I shall now invite ……. and …….. and the witnesses to sign the partnership schedule and then in a few moments you will be welcome to take some photographs
- ……..and ………from this time on you are legally recognized as civil partners and we wish you success and happiness in your future life together
- Optional kiss/hug
I hope whoever wrote “optional kiss/hug” felt as uncomfortable writing it as I do reading it.
You will then be presented with your certificate and receive the congratulations of your guests.
Well here’s hoping. I haven’t gotten a certificate for anything in ages so that should be fun.
So my next step is to email and find out exactly how flexible the wording of this is.