Thursday, February 11, 2010

Adrian Colesberry (author of the best-titled memoir ever*) has some Valentine's Day advice for gay couples who wish they could marry:

Say that you are married.
When I was in corporate management, I promoted quite a few people over the years. In analyzing the pattern of who I promoted and who I didn’t, I noticed that I only promoted people who were already doing the job that I was interviewing them for. If a group leader was already doing most of the work of a supervisor, he or she would get the next supervisor position.

In the same way, you don’t need to interview for the marriage position: Gay men and women all over this country are already doing the job of being in strong committed relationships, raising children, taking care of elderly parents, doing everything that every family in this country does. Unfortunately, most of that family stuff is done out of the public eye. We obviously don’t see it well enough to understand that you deserve the promotion, so we need to hear about it.

This is similar to what I've been saying about the marriage equality movement, though certainly with a different focus. I think gay couples should be living the life they want to legitimize, and prioritizing the legal changes that will shield them from the worst discrimination (civil unions laws, mostly). Live it; let people see your stable, healthy relationship; _then_ fight the hard, divisive battle for full equality. The years of living like normal married couples will have taken almost all the wind out of the sails of equality opponents.

But what I really wanted to point out was this:

I hope it doesn’t seem intolerably flippant for me (a man who is all but rubbing your face in it with the getting married and then divorced and then married again) to propose that you can solve a hurtful social injustice by a mere rhetorical strategy. I know that it’s easy for me to suggest it and a hundred, a thousand times harder for you to carry it off in your real life.

Y'know, in a lot of ways plural-spouse families have even less social and legal recognition than gay families do. So if we're going to judge a suggestion by the victim-cred of the guy making it, I can back Adrian with authority:

My wife and I are planning a party in which we’re declaring our undying devotion to our partner. We’re calling the party a wedding, exchanging rings, and calling our partner our wife.

If we can do it, gay folks certainly can, too.