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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Keep Calm and Demand Marriage Equality

By Mindy Townsend -

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t completely enamored with the United Kingdom. With the BBC, the superfluous use of the letter “U,” and Prime Minister’s Questions, it’s really my kind of place. (It took all of my strength to not immediately write off American Top Gear as a complete abomination.) Never you mind that they lost their empire! Keep calm and carry on.
But stiff upper lip aside, the U.K. has its share of cheeky monkeys. The British gay rights group OutRage! has started the Equal Love campaign to fight for “heterosexual equality.”
Steady on, mate. This isn’t as insulting as it sounds.
Jezebel reports that Stephanie Munro and Andrew O'Neill – a heterosexual couple – plan to apply for a U.K. civil partnership on Wednesday. Because civil partnerships are only open to same-sex couples, it seems likely that Munro and O’Neill will be denied. After this inevitability, the couple – along with three others – will file a lawsuit in the British courts demanding that civil partnerships and marriage be open to everyone. Prohibiting straight couples from entering into civil partnerships and gay couples from marrying form a “sexual apartheid.” Discrimination in this area is wrong, full stop.
Cor blimey. That’s sort of … brilliant.
There are plenty of reasons why a heterosexual couple would want to formalize their commitment, but not want to get “married.” Munro and O’Neill say they want to make “an official, lifetime commitment to each other,” but feel that marriage does not accurately reflect their relationship. “As long as marriage is denied to same-sex couples, it remains a hangover from a patriarchal age,” says O’Neill.
Oh, be still my heart. He is clearly quite a catch.
O’Neill is right, of course. So-called protectors of marriage are clinging to gender roles that no longer hold true. Why should any of us be forced – for lack of an alternative – to buy into a system that has roots that some of us may find offensive? Either you only get something with lots of baggage or you only get something with no baggage at all.
Perhaps this is an issue of the grass always being greener; some want to lose the patriarchy, some want the historical significance. But I have no doubt there are gay and straight people in both camps.
Here in the States, the conversation is solely about opening marriage to gay and lesbian couples (although the new Illinois civil unions bill also applies to straight couples). And I’m not saying that isn’t where the focus should lie, because I do think that focus is totally appropriate. But maybe it wouldn’t hurt to add a helping of relationship self-determinism into the mix, à la our Anglophone friends across the pond.
That would be the dog’s bollocks.

 petition text -

Please fulfill your promise to repeal DOMA

Honorable President Obama,

I'm writing you about an issue that is very important to me: marriage.

The so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” excludes same-sex couples from the more than
a thousand federal responsibilities and protections of marriage, including Social Security
survivor benefits and equal immigration treatment. DOMA even prevents married gay
couples from filing joint federal tax returns and pooling resources without being unfairly

Couples who have made a personal commitment to each other for better or for worse
and to care for one another in sickness and in health deserve the cultural respect, social
support, and legal protections that come with marriage.

During your presidential campaign, you said:

“I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I
have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only
part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should
not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what
DOMA does.”

Please fulfill your campaign promise, Mr. President, and repeal DOMA, which is harming
American families.

Thank you,

[Your name here] 


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