Alex Blaze

Why get married abroad when you can get married at home?

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 29, 2009 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Canada, Colin Farrell, eagan farrell, gay marriage, ireland, law, LGBT, marriage, New Jersey

Colin Farrell's brother Eamon just got married to his partner Stephen. Congrats to the couple.

But I can't help but wondering why they did it, and I know that there are more than a few people who read this site who've traveled abroad or to another state to get married and maybe you can tell me what I'm missing here.

Eamon and Stephen live in Ireland, where they'll soon be able to get a civil union. But they didn't want a civil union:

"Who wants a civil union? It's just so legal. I want to be able to get married."

But a marriage is just as "legal" of an institution. Especially since they went to a country where their marriage would be legally recognized when they could have just gotten married in Ireland not caring if the law recognized their marriage as real or not.

In other words, they obviously weren't seeking the legal benefits of marriage since their Canadian marriage won't be recognized in Ireland. And they weren't looking for legal benefits that they could use since they didn't want a civil union in Ireland (although nothing's stopping them from doing that as well). And they weren't looking for the symbolic, religious, cultural, or familial aspects of marriage, all of which can be accomplished with a ceremony that isn't recognized by the law.

"We have to get married abroad," Eamon said at the time.

"It's absolutely terrible. We have to go somewhere legal, which narrows it down to about five countries.

They had to go somewhere "legal," but they don't want a relationship that's "so legal." They didn't go to Canada for the material benefits of marriage since they're not moving to Canada, but they also didn't go to Canada for the cultural benefits of marriage since they could have accomplished that, as people did for millennia, without the state getting involved in Ireland.

Obviously I'm missing something. Is having a government - any government - put its stamp of approval on one's relationship that important? Or are people looking for an excuse to take a vacation? Is it the novelty of traveling abroad to get married? Is it about making a statement?

I'm honestly asking, since, while I'm in a stable relationship and we're considering getting a PACS (French civil union) to make the visa application process easier for me, I don't ever plan on getting married unless there's a specific government benefit that I want to access. The institution has little cultural value to me, but I can see the point of getting goodies.

Have you traveled to another jurisdiction to get married and then returned home knowing that it wouldn't be valid where you live?


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Stuart & Robert Wyman-Cahall | December 29, 2009 8:13 PM

We married in Canada because we love each other so much that the idea of having our marriage VOTED away from us would have been a hurt far too hard to bear.
When the window for marriage was available in California before the passage of prop. 8 we wanted to feel the freedom here in our home, the U.S.A....we were told that since we were already married in Canada that we were already considered married in California and, hence could NOT marry again, even to the same person. We were fine with that, since California is still a place where we seriously consider retiring to.
Prop 8 passed and it took a legislative act signed by the governor to "grandfather" our Canadien marriage in California.
The bottom line is this: We are MARRIED, not Civil Unioned, and only Domestic Partnered in our home state of Nevada because of a sickening ban on marriage. Yes, we groveled to the state legislators here, to overturn the veto on DP here, a veto by a governor who is an adulterer and an abuser of women. We need whatever legal protections they will so kindly bestow upon us. Generous, huh?
So we left our country to marry...our marrigage will NEVER be ripped away from us by a cruel and ignorant electorate.
Stuart & Robert Wyman-Cahall
Las Vegas, NV 89142

I think it comes down to being a form of civil disobedience, since they can't do something one place then they will go to where they can do it, and thumb their noses at the people not letting them get married.

I would imagine that for many people, government recognition of civil marriage carries with it significant cultural and symbolic meaning.

For example, a whole host of people in San Francisco lined up to get married when it briefly became legal in 2004, even though civil partnerships were legal in California, and even though there were plenty of options available for a non-legal marriage ceremony in San Francisco.