June 26, 2015 is a day for the history books, and unless you were under a rock or the equivalent, (out of cell range or without a Wi-Fi connection) you know why.
The Supreme Court ruled Friday that marriage is a right awarded to all Americans, and effectively legalized same-sex marriage on a federal level.
“No longer may this liberty be denied. No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” — Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
To say that this is a victory for the LGBTQ community is an understatement. This. Is. Huge.
At 22-years old, I think I’ve waited a long time for this moment. I cannot fathom that this is actually something my community has been fighting for for decades upon decades — that there are same-sex couples who have been together 50, 60, 70+ years just waiting for this day.
Almost immediately, support flowed in from allies, big and small. Individuals on Facebook posted happy statuses about the LGBTQ weddings they had better be invited to, corporations turned their logos into rainbows — hell, even the White House itself was illuminated in a rainbow halo <see featured image on this post>.
But, through it all, there was one little thing that irked me and a lot of my fellow queer-but-not-gay peeps:
As I see it, now that people marrying people of their own gender or sex is legal everywhere (in America), we shouldn’t have to label a marriage at all. Regardless of the genders and sexes of the people involved, a marriage is a marriage, a wedding a wedding.
That being said, I do understand how for the foreseeable future we will have to differentiate. It’s not as if this decision brought with it a beautiful wave of pride flags sweeping through the nation like a spell on Once Upon a Time. Acceptance is going to take some time and, for a lot of people, this whole thing is going to take a while to process. That’s understandable. For many, this decision is bringing on quite a culture shock.
So, until we get to the place when we can simply call the duck what it is, I’d like to suggest that we move away from the term “gay” marriage and officially make the move to “same-sex” marriage. My reasons are three-fold:
1. Not all people taking advantage of this ruling identify as gay
To most of us, the word “gay” means having almost-exclusive homosexual attraction. For the most part, we do not think about other identities within the LGBTQ community or anything besides rainbows.
The problem with simplifying it to “gay” marriage is that, of course, there are going to be lesbian women marrying bisexual women, and pansexual men marrying biromantic asexual dudes, and trans lesbian women marrying demisexual women.
Gay-identified individuals are not the only people who will benefit from this ruling. The fact is that any American who has the potential to fall in love with someone of their own gender or sex will benefit, and simply dwindling it down to “the gays” leaves out a huge part of the community — the majority of the community, really.
We cannot forget that there are several other letters in the acronym, and — tragically — there are several other valid identities that even the acronym leaves out. It’s way more that just “G.”
2. The other letters are erased enough, as it is
This past weekend I attended Denver PrideFest and decided to conduct an impromptu experiment throughout the day: count how many pride flags I see that are not the rainbow flag most often associated with gay individuals. The final tally is as follows:
- Bisexual pride: 7
- Trans* pride: 2
- Pansexual pride: 1
- Asexual pride: 4
This, in a sea of rainbows.
Even within our community we have a way of erasing the spectral/non-binary identities, and the way to fix this is not by taking an issue that relates to all of us and assigning it to one group.
3. Even if I marry a woman, I’m still not gay
Let’s say the woman I’ve been crushing on suddenly reciprocates my feelings and we fall madly in love and want to get married. As a bisexual woman, that wouldn’t mean I’m suddenly a lesbian. My bisexuality does not morph into something else when I’m in a relationship.
So if you were to call my marriage to my lovely wife a “gay” marriage, you would be mislabeling it completely, as both of the individuals in the relationship do not identify as gay.
Same-sex is best … for now
I’m not saying that “same-sex marriage” is a perfect term. It’s not. Like virtually all terms/labels, it still has the potential to leave some people out (like some trans individuals, for one).
But for all of the reasons bolded above, I hereby move that we make the switch from “gay marriage” to “same-sex marriage.” That is, until we find an even more inclusive term.
Hopefully, just “marriage.”