Monica Helms guest posted a couple weeks ago about how we cannot define "man" and "woman" in marriage; Mercedes Allen posted this weekend about how defining marriage as between one man and one woman leads to confusing policy towards transgender people.
This story provides an interesting twist, as Antonio E. Blount and Justin L. McCain got married in Virginia. Justin passed as a woman, said his name was Justine, and showed his driver's license, on which the "M" was covered by the state seal.
The question of whether charges will be filed or not rests on whether they "knowingly misled" the officials. They had to swear that everything on the application was true, and it didn't ask their genders:
Newport News investigators will decide whether there was false information on the marriage license application, said Newport News Commonwealth's Attorney Howard Gwynn. Though Davis said applicants must swear to the truth of the information on their marriage license, the application mentioned "groom" and "bride," not male and female.
That has been changed to say "male applicant," and "female applicant," Davis said.
Interestingly enough, if had actually been MtF transgender, the AP article indicates that he probably would have been able to marry.
It's interesting to think about where this takes the gender binary. Suppose the commonwealth of Virginia recognized transgender people by their gender identity instead of their birth gender, where and how exactly would the former be defined? SRS? Some SRS procedures, but not all? OK from a doctor? Living as the other gender? Full-time or part-time? How about just enough time to get through the ceremony?
Honestly, this seems like a good argument to just get rid of gender discrimination in marriage law (can I get an "ERA"?). I don't want Big Government deciding what gender I am; I'm an adult, let me decide.
But this couple probably isn't a good place to push the issue. While I'm already questioning what they thought they were going to do with the marriage considering that in asking for most rights associated with it people would notice that they're both men, and those aren't recognized in Virginia.
Another sign that this wouldn't be an easy couple to work with is that Justin called the same courthouse 19 miles away from his hometown a couple weeks later to change his name to "Penelopsky Aaryonna Goldberry." That's how they caught him on the marriage.
It's a creative name, but everyone would have just ended up calling him "Penny" for short.