Alex Blaze

Reasons why I don't like "marriage equality"

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 13, 2008 2:16 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry Day, Freedom to Marry Week, language, LGBT, marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

Evan Wolfson has a letter up about this year's Freedom to Marry Week and Freedom to Marry Day telling everyone, for the love of Christ, stop saying "gay marriage."

It's interesting that this is often the big message of the movement towards same-sex marriage, telling people what phrase to use, as if it'll actually change the way people perceive same-sex marriage. (For the record, "same-sex marriage" is another one of Evan Wolfson's no-no phrases.) No matter what you call it, it's two dudes or two ladies getting hitched, it's going to bother some people, and, unless we were calling it something horrid, it's best to stick with a recognizable phrase when discussing this issue.

I'll admit, this has a lot to do with the fact that I never liked the phrase "marriage equality" for a lot of reasons, and they're all after the jump.

First, it's a pretty ugly little phrase there. Obviously whoever came up with it wasn't a writer, what with the length and the awkward sounds put together and the need for two stressed syllables. It's bad written, and it's even worse in conversation. Does anyone use this phrase naturally? No one I know, at least.

Second, it's inaccurate. Proponents of same-sex marriage aren't generally seeking marriages to be equal to one another (that would be too much) or equality within marriage (that's, like, feminism or something), they're seeking state and federal recognition of certain types of conjugal relationships as marriages. Fair enough, but if that gets enacted, all marriages won't be equal and all people won't be equal in the institution.

Now, I'm not one of those sticklers who thinks that every phrase that catches on has to be 100% accurate; if it catches on, it catches on. But when it's only around as part of a conscious effort to change the words that people use, it might as well be something that withstands basic scrutiny.

Third, it's not descriptive enough. Anyone who's not already in the know won't understand what it means. The phrase we choose is important in those personal conversations we're all supposed to be having about marriage, but I can only imagine what would happen if I were talking with someone completely unaware of the topic:

Alex: Hey, did you hear about that new marriage equality initiative in New York?

Other Person: Marriage equality? What the hell's that?

Alex: Gay marriage.

OP: Oh, ha, gay marriage. What was that other thing you called it? That was funny.

And so would end the great experiment of separating the "gay marriage" from the "gay."

Which brings me straight into reason number four, that it comes across as vaguely homophobic to me that some would try to separate the concepts of "gay" and "same-sex lovin'" from their calls for marriage.

I know, I know, that's been half the point of that movement so far, what with arguments like "It's not about sex, it's about love." It's almost as if the "marriage equality" people have already given in to the "That's so gay" people and accepted that "gay" has a negative connotation, so to use it would sully their pleas.

But the biggest reason, and I'll fess up to this one, is that "marriage equality" has become associated with a very specific kind of marriage advocate who generally sees marriage as not just the most important gay issue out there but the only gay issue out there, who doesn't see the fight for same-sex marriage as part of a larger movement to recognize non-heteronuclear family structures or expand the benefits associated with marriage to those who don't want to get same-sex or opposite-sex married, and who thinks that once marriage is won with a few other smaller pieces of legislation, it'll be time to close up shop and go home.

Yes, you're right, there's no reason it has to be associated with an insular and short-sighted gay rights politic, but if Wolfson can speak to the representations "same-sex marriage" has for millions of people he's never met, then I can definitely speak to my personal reactions to "marriage equality."

The thing is, there really isn't benefit to changing anyway. No matter how many times I've been told to use "marriage equality" by someone or another, I have yet to see any data supporting the fact that it's actually helped expand same-sex marriage (and if anyone knows of anything, please mention it in the comments!). It wouldn't be that hard to find, just poll a group of people and ask them if they support "gay marriage," another group asking them if they support "marriage equality," and maybe another one with the phrase "same-sex marriage" or "freedom to marry." See how the results differ.

Even Wolfson admits that "marriage equality" isn't the key to change:

Even without clear terminology always prevailing, people are getting it. Public support for marriage equality is growing faster than ever before. In just over 10 years, according to the Gallup poll, support for marriage equality has jumped almost 20 percentage points, while those against fairness decreased 15 percentage points in the same time period. Imagine the rate of progress we could see if people understood this not as creating "gay marriage," but, rather, ending the denial of the “freedom to marry” and letting couples committed to one another in life share the legal commitment of marriage.

20% increase in support? That's a lot with almost no one talking about "marriage equality." But we can't "imagine the rate of progress" if everyone used "marriage equality" because the parameter is so abstract and tangentially related to the things that have been influencing that change, like media representation, people coming out, etc., that the point seems moot.

And then there's the "We don't call it 'black marriage'" argument:

Fittingly, as we mark the 60th anniversary of that courageous court decision, other couples now stand before the same court which will hear argument on March 4, 2008. Those couples are not seeking "gay marriage," any more than Mrs. Perez sought "black marriage," or her husband sought "Latino marriage."

No, but people would generally refer to what she wanted as "interracial marriage," which violates the don't-put-an-adjective-in-front-of-marriage rule, and she got it well before the public was "ready" for it. So it isn't that important.

Whatever, I'll stick to "same-sex marriage" when discussing the issue until I find a compelling reason to change. It gets right to the point and is inclusive of bisexuals who might want in, and the alliteration is icing on that cake.

(Via JMG)

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What is same-sex marriage when T people are concerned? If an m2f T person transitions and remain married to their wife, is that now a same-sex marriage? How about if a transitioned F2M marries a woman? These are certainly examples of marriages that might run astray of some court's interpretation of DOMA - but you can't quite call them same-sex marriages. Thus the term marriage equality.


Someone who's more up on trans issues can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the government already requires that everyone take on a label in the male/female binary depending on whatever laws and circumstances apply. If two people get labeled as the "opposite sex", then they can get married (again, if this is wrong, someone can correct me).

So, like, the fight is still for the same-sex part. While I'm all in favor of getting rid of the binary-in-law, I don't think that's part of "marriage equality" advocacy.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 13, 2008 2:46 PM


If the use of the term "marriage equality" is the big message that you are getting from marriage advocates, I think that says more about you and your hostility towards the marriage issue. Pretty much everyone else gets that the big message is that people should be able to marry the partner of their choice without being discriminated against because of the partner's gender.

That's okay though. Most of us who support marriage equality understand that there a lot of different issues that are important to the members of the LGBT community and not just the ones that we amy care about.

Evan is right that by using the term "gay marriage" we have allowed the anti-gay hordes to define our fight for marriage equality as something alien and different. When in truth, we are simply fighting for an end to the current discriminatory practices that allow marriage only between one man and one woman.

If the use of the term "marriage equality" is the big message that you are getting from marriage advocates, I think that says more about you and your hostility towards the marriage issue.

I didn't say it was the only message I was getting, I said that it's often one of the biggest messages or something like that. And it is - it's a big letter on the Freedom to Marry Campaign's site on their biggest day of the year.

And where are you getting this that I'm "hostile" to the issue of marriage?

Evan is right that by using the term "gay marriage" we have allowed the anti-gay hordes to define our fight for marriage equality as something alien and different.

Where's the proof for that statement? I'm honestly looking for it!

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 13, 2008 3:05 PM

Freedom to Marry does incredible work on more than just one day of the year. Because Evan and company chose to push the marriage equality frame this time does not mean that it is often one of their biggest messages. It means that it is part of the message of ending marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.

The proof that we have allowed the anti-gay hordes to define our fight for marriage equality as something alien can be seen in the 20+ state constitutional amendments that have been passed outlawing marriage between same-sex couples.

This is the best example of a civil rights, public relations train wreck to come along in my lifetime.

There are 27 states now who have defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In those 27 states they define a man and a woman based on what is on your Birth Certificate.

Just a quick note to Alex while i am thinking of it...
I am from that generation who wrestled with what you have called as interracial marriages We called them Mixed Marriages a decidedly better term.

Everything except for social security survivors benefits can be had without marriage. Having been married the tax advantage is meaningless. Besides you can get that advantage other ways according to my ex-accountant.

While it might be nice to say " We are Married" Divorce can be more then just messy it can take years off your life and send a partner into unrecoverable depression when the other partner insists on making their divorce a public matter.

While I can legally marry I wouldn't waste my time. That is what God has invented trusts for.

Take care

Perhaps part of the reason that you associate the phrase “Marriage Equality” with those who view same-sex marriage as the ultimate goal for the gay rights movement can been seen in Wolfson’s own example of the ‘Perez v Sharp’ case.

If the phrase “Marriage Equality” had been applied to interracial marriage as Wolfson implies then what would that have meant once interracial marriage was legal? That now America has achieved marriage equality? Clearly that is not the case because queers could still not marry their same-sex partners.

By its very definition “Marriage Equality” sets itself up as the end point. Once you’ve achieved marriage equality then you have eliminated inequality, whereas once you have achieved interracial marriage you have not necessarily eliminated inequality. And I think that’s an important rhetorical distinction.

Now I’m not trying to say that I think there will be another group fighting for the right to marry in the future, although I certainly am not ruling that out, but I do think the idea that the fight for equality will ever end completely (or end as easily as the passage of a few laws) is an extremely privileged concept. And that’s exactly the idea that is being promoted through the phrase “Marriage Equality”.

PS - I'm betting this comment thread gets loooong


Some more info on trans marriage:

There's no one legal sex, but several. If your driver's license says one thing and your birth certificate says another, you can probably get away with bringing whichever one is the opposite of your partner. If you get married and then later change the gender marker on your ID, the marriage still stands.

However, no matter your circumstances, trans marriages are somewhat precarious. Anyone with an interest (inheritance, divorce, custody) can sue to dissolve the marriage on the grounds that you're not really the gender you say you are.

Courts have dissolved marriages saying that the trans person "really" is their birth assigned gender, while other courts have dissolved marriages saying that the trans person "really" is the gender that their updated ID says.

So unless we're talking about a trans man marrying a trans woman, with parallel ID, surgical, etc statuses, then the marriage is tenuous. Homeland security, for example, has at times declared any marriage with a trans person invalid (it's just too hard to sort out same-sex from opposite-sex, so they just refused to acknowledge any).

Same-sex marriage benefits trans people by making gender not a legal requirement for marriage. It's certainly beneficial to the trans community, but given how few trans marriages actually get dissolved, it's nowhere near as much a priority to the trans community as non-discrimination, health care, etc.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 13, 2008 3:33 PM


You bring up a good point that I had not thought about before. If the use of the term "marriage equality" had been used instead of "interracial marriage" where would we be with same-sex couples not being able to marry. I have to think that through some more.

Another good reason for not using the term "gay marriage" is that not all participants in same-sex couples are gay. Some are bisexual which is something we forget quite often.

I have to admit that I tend to most often use the long phrase "marriage between same-sex couples." Yeah, I know it doesn't have the snap or brevity of "gay marriage" or "marriage equality," but most of the time it works for me.

I do find myself slipping into "gay marriage" if only because most people seem to get it. That does not necessarily make it the best phrase. Just a convenient one.

The proof that we have allowed the anti-gay hordes to define our fight for marriage equality as something alien can be seen in the 20+ state constitutional amendments that have been passed outlawing marriage between same-sex couples.

That's more likely proof that there are a lot of people that are uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage, not that the phrase "marriage equality" is better than the phrase "same-sex marriage". In fact, it seems counter-intuitive that it would be proof of the latter.


No, totally, that's like right at the center of it what you mentioned.

And language posts always get a lot of comments around here.

Regarding trans marriages...
if your birth certificate is amended in technical terms you are screwed.
The only way a trans marriage is sound is with a new birth certificate.

What i find to be saddening is the tact the GLBT socio-political engine took in this matter which will force nearly every state to define who can get married. All it takes is 38 states for a Constitutional amendment.

Time for you guys to start thinking outside of the box.

Take Care

Tobi, Sue, and Alex,
I posted in the knowledge that I'd get your comments; as lobby chair for NTAC, I'm quite aware of what train wrecks are caused in the intersection of marriage/trans/DOMA

First of all, there is NO actual law in effect that defines what is male and what is female. There are court rulings in Kansas and Texas (Prange v Littleton and Gardiner) that found that sex is determined by chromosomes - however, in neither case were chromosome tests administered. In Gardiner, the Littleton ruling was used to determine that J'Noel Gardiner, whose birth certificate had been changed to Female in Wisconsin, was in fact male chromosomally. So, until this case is overruled by others, that's the precedent - and a bad one it is.

In practice, birth certificate is a determinate factor - but if a person transitions surgically and cannot get their BC changed (as with people born in Ohio, Tennessee, Idaho, and other jurisdictions), they would be cleared by dint of that to legally marry same-sex - as Phyllis Frye did with the Wicks' in San Antonio (Wicks is the marriage of a postop m2f ts with a birth female). And there are some jurisdictions that won't permit T people to marry anyone - is that right? Kentucky's DOMA constitutional amendment gives the right to counties to dissolve existing marriages.

Now, we bring up the point of intersexed people: what sex are they? It is the goal of ISNA to not assign sex at birth in the case of intersexed people with ambiguous genitalia - and I support that. So, which are they? Even if you define on parts i.e. presence of a penis or presence of a vagina (which I don't support), what of intersexed people who have both, or neither? What of people who've suffered injuries that neutered them?

These are all points that can be raised in the fight to kill DOMA laws, but rarely have been, although in the current political climate, the last thing the T community wants or needs to be doing is calling for a national legal definition of male and female. I don't want the current Supreme Court deciding, either.

DOMA repeal IS a T issue as well, very much so, although it is nowhere near as important to most T people as passage of an inclusive ENDA or hate crimes law.


That's the same reason why I don't like the term.

Before recently, I haven't been very public about being poly. But I find it important to say that after we get same-sex marriage, I still won't be able to get married to my partner.

The idea that getting same-sex marriage means the institution of marriage will be equal is clearly false from my perspective. Saying otherwise just further convinces me that "marriage equality" activists will abandon the cause once they have their rights.

Then there's also the whole issue about how the United States creates more rights that get doled out only to the married than any other industrialized nation. Letting more folks have the option to get married is good, but what I really want is to be able to have my rights whether or not I choose to get married.

Nancy Polikoff's new book, "Beyond (Gay or Straight) Marriage" gets to that point pretty effectively.

there you go changing terms.
we said man and woman not male and female.
which in many Post-transition women's situations makes no differance, be that as it may. we are talking about man and woman not male and famale.
DOMA Says Man and Woman.

I would love to see the cases you sighted and see them on some Non Trans Site. As i remember Littleton was not about chromosomes, it was about an amended birth certificate.

Please post Non T sites with these cases.
My source indicates contrary to what you have sighted.

There are only three states that won't issue a revised birth certificate. Maybe still the city of New York but last i heard that isn't the case any more.

To be honest;
I don't seen DOMA being killed in your or my lifetime. I actually see a constitutional amendment to support marriage between one man and one woman in the future because of how this issue has been mishandled by the GLBT.

Take care

Ye Olde Fart | February 13, 2008 4:48 PM

Except for the economic advantages, I don't know why a gay or lesbian couple would want to be part of marriage.

After serving 13 years in the clergy, I can attest to the fact that the institution is not doing well with heterosexuals. A full 50% of those marriages end up in divorce, and some pretty ugly ones at that.

The institution was created before the Industrial Revolution and has failed to adapt to the changes in society since then. Why adopt that model?

Gay couples can setup house together if they wish and define what they want for their lives together for themselves. They don't need the present model for their families, homes or happiness.

I really think that accepting the present model of marriage for themselves is a big mistake on the part of gays and lesbians.

I know, there's always the question of the economic advantages of marriage. But, are they really worth it?

The Economic advantages could have been dealt with long ago if gays and lesbian activists would have practiced the doctrine of incrementalism marriage rights could have been had easily enough in due time.

The Same Sex Marriage Activists haven't learned the first lesion in social change.
That being...
Change in society must take place slowly or any positive outcome will be delayed for generations
Take care

I perfer marriage, or marriage equality. By definition alone saying "gay marriage" or "same-sex marriage" separates marriage into two separate categories. I can't say that I've ever heard anyone say that I've been "straight married" or "opposite-sex married" or "interracially married"

We use the terms gay/straight/interracial to describe something but I won't tell people that Jim and Tommy got a gay marriage. It would be pointless as it's already implied by the use of their names. What's to say that employers who recognize the term "Marriage" by it-self will not recognize the term "Gay-Marriage." It's already happening with "Civil Unions." When you separate something you mark it as something different. If I marry my partner, the rights/responsibilities of marriage should be equal to anyone else's without regard to whether or not it was same-sex or opposite-sex.

And, to Ye Olde Fart, there's a lot more to the rights of marriage than just the economic advantages. Like being able to visit your loved one in the hospital and making decisions in the event of their incapacition.

I can't say that I've ever heard anyone say that I've been "straight married" or "opposite-sex married" or "interracially married"

I don't think I've heard anyone ever say that they've been "marriage equalitied" either.


And if we could just take those economic benefits and give them out to everyone like pink cupcakes on my birthday....

Ms. Robbins, I'm sorry but your comment, "Everything except for social security survivors [sic] benefits can be had without marriage" is absolutely incorrect to the point of being absurd. I'm really shocked that no one has challenged you on this obviously incorrect statement. There are scores of State and Federal rights and benefits that a person can't get without marriage. You can't possibly be so naive as to not realize that.

Just to name a few things: No right to not testify against a partner. No right to bring a foreign partner to live with you in the country. No right to demand that an employer give you the same pay and benefits that they give to the married person who works next to you. No right to not pay taxes on the health benefits that your employer provides for your partner (contrary to your claim that tax benefit is HUGE!). In my state (FL), no right to adopt the child of your partner. Can you please explain to me how I can get these rights through a personal contract or a trust? I'd be very interested in hearing how you, or your ex-accountant, have found to get these rights and benefits without marriage or the "separate but equal" equivalent thereof.

And speaking of trusts and contracts, you would have to be living in a bubble to be unaware of how often and how easily family members can challenge and overturn gay couples' wills and trusts in court. I personally know a number of instances where couples spent THOUSANDS of dollars to protect themselves only to find that the contracts (put together by attorneys) weren't worth the paper they were printed on when challenged by a bitter family member. This is especially true in certain states and gay survivors are ALWAYS left to the mercy of the judge who very well may be homophobic.

Even if these facts weren't true, why should some Americans be forced to pay thousands of dollars to get just some of the protections that straight people get for fifty dollars and a signature?

Oh, and in response to the topic at hand, I completely agree that the term "gay marriage" sends the message that we are asking for special rights or that we are looking to radically change an treasured institution when in fact we are just asking to be treated equally with respect to access to this institution and we only ask to be included in the traditional institution just the was mixed race couples were in 1969.

For this reason, I always use the term "marriage equality" and attempt to explain to others why I think the terminology is important. Mr. Blaze's concerns for the number of stressed syllables and picking apart how it might be misconstrued to mean something ridiculous just seems silly to me, however as long as we're on the same side in the battle for equality and fairness I'm not gonna quibble over semantics.

I agree with those who personally think that marriage is an outdated crock. I believe that laws against discrimination, hate crimes and hate speech are more important in the long run and will mobilize more people for the overall struggle for equality.

On the other hand lots and lots of GLBT folks, overcome by pheromones and a desire for tax breaks, want to get married. I feel sorry for them. As Ambrose Bierce says love is “A temporary insanity curable by marriage” and according to Honest Abe is “Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.” He knew what he was talking about, which is why he spent so many nights sleeping with his bodyguards.

Whatever you call it – gay marriage or samesex marriage equality – just the fact that people want to get married means we should support them 100%. And on the plus side the question causes conservatives and superstitious religious twits to have multiple cerebrovascular accidents.

By the way the name is Robins.
With one B, thank you.

Okay lets see…
The right not to testify against your partner.
That is called the Fifth Amendment.

With the Home-land security issues the importation of a partner issue is up in the air.

I have never worked anywhere they discriminated against single people. Are you sure that is not Urban legend, can you sight an example? (company name and policy & procedure title)

As for adoption being Gay or Lesbian is not the only classes that are discriminated against adoption. Many married couples are discriminated against because of ether mental health history or income. Adoption is not unique to being gay or lesbian.

As for obtaining those rights you say you lack try ether lobbying for those rights or move to a state that accommodates your needs.

As to your assertion that trusts can be challenged, they can’t you need to study a little law hon. do you know what a non-revocable trust it? it is just what it says Non-Revocable. The Supreme Court can’t unravel it.

One more thing those people who quote Gardener and Littleton I have read both cases and seen nothing referring to chromosomes. It would be nice to see this urban myth put to rest.

Any marriage can be challenged any probate case can be challenged. With a trust nothing enters into probate.
Any first year law student knows that.

Take Care

Michael Bedwell | February 13, 2008 8:22 PM

I work for a firm with offices around the world. Respecting local traditions, employees get paid holidays that most of our other employees have never heard of but envy, e.g., Tomb Sweeping Day in our China offices [April 5th]. And, in June, they get Dragon Boat Day off, too.

But I checked our Paris office holiday schedule and see no National Inutile Merde Remuant Jour—or perhaps the problem is just my inability to correctly translate “National Unnecessary Shit Stirring Day.”

I disagree with Ewan Wolfson about a few things but his wisdom about the greater sociopolitical marketing power of some words over others is not just a sock puppet for puppies to play with. The Republicans mastered this long ago. Doesn’t the brilliant “Right to Life” automatically sound more affirming and unchallengeable than “right to abortion”? What? You don’t believe in LIFE? The opposite of Life is Death. Baby killer!!! Etc., etc., etc.

Almost as good as “Silent Majority”—you can’t HEAR them, but trust us: they agree with Nixon, Reagan, fill-in-the-blank and outnumber YOU. Bush fils kicked off with the double-whammy of “Tax Relief.” Taxes are bad, ipso facto, we need relief. Relief is only needed for something painful, therefore, taxes are bad. Then there was “Moral Majority.” Another two-for-one. Anyone who disagreed with them was automatically “immoral” AND “in the minority.”

They have almost succeeded in replacing “Global Warming” with pretty little “climate change." Kinda makes one imagine, "Excuse me, Handsome, while I slip into something a little more comfortable——like melting polar ice caps."
And we’re still being beaten over the head by their success in turning “gay rights” into “special rights”—getting even unctuous gay typist Andrew Sullivan to subscribe to the idea that explicitly including gays [by inference Bs & Ts] in job protection legislation was giving us a “special right” we did not deserve.

“Queer” was the ugliest baby not-yet weaned pubescent activists tried to give birth to—fortunately as far as the nongay world is concerned it was still born.

Orwell never met Newt Gingrich but Gingrich never met a word he couldn’t twist to his own neo-fascist ends. In the 90s, his band of political thugs, GOPAC, actually issued a Newt Speak guide called, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”

See: “Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics”

And to all of you Moscovitic Bilericians: Happy Day of the Defender of the Fatherland this Saturday!


I don't really know why you defend the phrase marriage equality by linking to an interview with George Lakoff in which he specifically avoids the phrase as well.

The point isn't that framing or word choice aren't important - they are - but that this specific situation is one where I'm taking a different view from Wolfson. You bring up tax relief and right to life, but let's face it - those worked for reasons that marriage equality can't muster. They're far snappier, they get right to the point of the issue, and, specifically in the case of right to life, it was used to tie the issue with others important to the religiious right, like euthanasia.

Marriage equality doesn't do those things - it separates marriage from other equality movements if you want to apply the marriage equality logic (if 'gay marriage' is something different from real marriage, then 'marriage equality' is something different from real equality, or did I miss something here?). And, as I mentioned above, it represents a short-sighted gay rights politic to me, and doesn't that representation that I know count anything in comparison to the representations people somehow divined millions will associate with marriage equality if only we all just keep clapping our hands?

Or, it hasn't caught on, and maybe we should examine why, move on, and come up with something better.

But anyway, if you read more from Lakoff than just a 4-year-old interview, you know that he isn't just talking about changing a phrase and everything else falls in line - it's about finding new ways of talking about issues, and before that, new ways of thinking about them. putting the same old ideas in a new phrase isn't the genius of right-wing framing - it was finding ways to make them speak to new audiences

Zeke re Sue~

She's not a troll. she's a well-intentioned person, so that negates the troll-ness, and she's here to help us all practice tolerance. The zen of Sue Robins.

Yes, we're all a bit mad here.

Jere~ Interesting thoughts.

Sue said,

The right not to testify against your partner. That is called the Fifth Amendment.

Sue, the Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination. It doesn't protect you against being forced to testify against another person. That's why we're adding that explicit protection to a proposed expansion of Washington state's domestic partnership law.

You still don't have to answer ANY question you don't feel like answering. incriminating your partner is incriminating you in most circumstances for which this would occur.


Everybody uses language to dominate politics.
Right now you can't tell the republicans from the democrats. They both are the same awful shade of fascism.

Take care

John, SCOTUS ruled in 1980 that the Fifth Amendment extended to the right to not testify against a spouse.

Having said that, how hillarious is it that a person who thinks the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution gives people the right to refuse to testify against someone who isn't their SPOUSE (as in MARRIED) would condescendingly tell ME to "study a little law, hon". I'll say one thing for ya Suzy Q, you're an idiot but you're cocky about it.

After that bit of wisdom Sue-style, she throws out a couple of straw man arguments that have no connection to and in no way address any of the points I made.

Sue, you're going to tell me that you've never heard of a company that offered health and other benefits to the spouses of employees but not to the partners of gay employees? Do you live under a rock? And who said ANYTHING about single people? YOU claimed that there was nothing that a person could get with marriage that they couldn't get through other means.

Then you throw out the Homeland Security straw man knowing good and damned well that unmarried couples were denied the right that married couples had to bring foreign partners to the live in the country long before Homeland Security even existed and you know full well that married couples aren't being denied the right even under Homeland Security. Again, YOUR claim was that there is NOTHING that a gay couple can't get that a married couple can. I'm giving just a few examples that show your claim is bogus.

You didn't address a single one of my examples except to cockily make the hillarious claim that the Fifth Amendment gives a person the right to refuse to testify against someone they aren't married to. Remember, once again, it was YOUR claim that married people get no rights that other couples can't get through other means.

It's clear that you resort to rhetorical tactics (straw man, obfuscations, conflations, distractions, logical fallacies) because you don't have the knowledge or the facts to back up your wacky claims. Well, I for one will no longer waste my time trying to debate reasonably with the unreasonable. Proverbs tells us to turn and walk away from fools because they don't have the capacity to understand even the most obvious truth. You are clearly either a fool or a troll; perhaps both.

Not only are you condescending and arrogant Ms. Robins, you are ignorant and boastfully so.

Take care "Hon",

I must admit that I'm new to this site. Is Sue for real or am I wasting my time arguing with a known troll? She definitely seems to be a master of troll rhetorical tactics intended to irritate and distract rather than to inform.


I agree that "marriage equality" can be clunky and confusing, though I use it to avoid repetition.

So why not "the freedom to marry"? It might not be alliterative, but it certainly speaks to a common thread in our history. It gets away from "gay marriage," which to my ear sounds like something separate from marriage as it already exists in law.

I think Evan's answer to the question, Why does our country need "gay marriage"? is a good one:

We don't. The term "gay marriage" implies that same-sex couples are asking for rights or privileges that married couples do not have, or for something lesser or different. What gay people are seeking is the legal and equal freedom to marry the person they love and care for, just as non-gay Americans do. The Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and the right to marry belongs to us all.

Zeke - nobody calls Sue Robins an 'ignorant' 'idiot' 'troll' without dealing with me first. Mess with the bull and you're going to get the horns.

And that should strike fear into my heart why?

I calls 'em like I sees 'em and neither your horns nor your BULL will change that.

Zeke said,

John, SCOTUS ruled in 1980 that the Fifth Amendment extended to the right to not testify against a spouse.

Out of curiosity, do you have the citation for that? I'd like to look it up. (Not doubting you for an instant.)

If my partner and I were able to file our 2007 taxes as married couple filing jointly we would be refunded $1300 more dollars than we will filing as individuals.

This isn't a big middle class issue for us. We rent our (not quite one bedroom) apartment. Neither of us have a drivers license. We have no plans to raise children. In fact, we finally got health insurance late in 2007 for the first time - and we are in our early 40s. Not exactly the idyllic depiction of the American dream.

We want to be regarded just the same as the tables of (presumed) male/female hipster married couples we saw at the restaurant we just left.

Moreover, we will not satisfied to allow a band of bigoted religious zealots to push legislation that restricts our citizenship by allowing the government to ignore our constitutional rights.

It IS about equality. Its not about gay marriage or lesbian marriage or transgendered marriage. It is about us having the opportunity to enter into the same legal arrangement that my neighbors have the privilege to enter into and exit from. They don't have gay marriage or straight marriage.

There wasn't a debate about black voting or woman voting - it was about enfranchisement and suffrage. This is about marriage. Not the label that gets placed on it to help identify it for the bigots.

I for one will no longer waste my time trying to debate reasonably with the unreasonable.
I must admit that I'm new to this site. Is Sue for real or am I wasting my time arguing with a known troll?

Zeke, Welcome to the rest of us.

A little bit of this. A little bit of that. We try to keep Sue on course around midway between the two but sometimes she veers off course into troll territory. A lot of us have just learned to ignore her most outrageous statements and continue the conversation around the obvious misstatements. Most commenters and contributors tend to be kind to her even though she can be very irritating and a handful of nothing sometimes. After all, we're all about diversity... Live and let live and whatnot.

Zeke, a followup --

Zeke said,
John, SCOTUS ruled in 1980 that the Fifth Amendment extended to the right to not testify against a spouse.

Out of curiosity, do you have the citation for that? I'd like to look it up. (Not doubting you for an instant.

I found an old NY Times article that says the '80 decision applies only at the federal level:

The Supreme Court constructed just such change in the spousal immunity privilege in 1980. Because the 1980 case came through a Federal, not a state, court system, the Court's spousal immunity ruling applies only to Federal cases.

That would make sense, because Washington state's spousal immunity statute is being amended to extend it to same-sex couples under the d.p. expansion.

Sue wrote,

You still don't have to answer ANY question you don't feel like answering. incriminating your partner is incriminating you in most circumstances for which this would occur.

The second sentence may or may not be true in any particular case. And if you were offered immunity from prosecution, you could still be compelled to testify against another person who is not your spouse. For more on spousal immunity see here

Well Zeke
I suppose a judge if he was narrow minded enough couldn’t possibly see that your live in boyfriend girlfriend or whatever…
fulfilled the same role as a spouse.

SO tell me Zeke is the judge going to make you testify against your liven in lover? Is the judge going to have the bailiff taze you for not answering the question. He won’t fine you for contempt.

As for Homeland security if you don’t like the way it is being implemented (and I don’t considering there is a wide open border to the south of where I live) they call your congressman and do something about it. I did.

Speaking of condescending and arrogant……

Sorry Zeke I am no troll
Your certainly one to point fingers….

Take care,

Finally someone posts factual information the gist of what you sighted is that the marriage right is weak at best.

it is about equality nobody is denying that.
The problem is the GLBT socio-political engine doesn't believe in incrimentalism which would have been the best way to achieve that end.

Take care

Actually, the post was about the use of the term marriage equality. I haven't read your comments that may go off that topic.

I'm glad you are sure of what would have been the best for the rest of us. It doesn't seem like the slow approach is working and there isn't any fast action happening (and there never has been anything fast to report).

Increments work great if the people that don't want change agree to it...but they usually don't. Consequently ANY movement is perceived as an assault on the status quo. There is no way to win in these kinds of issues except to win when you can. That seems to be what is happening.

To wait for them to come around to our way of thinking is an invitation to wait forever.

I love Alex Blaze, but on this one I disagree.

The term "marriage equality" represents equality. Period. Equality does not have a gender, or a sexual orientation. Or a religion. Or a race or culture. Equality knocks down those artifical barriers. The concept of "equality" doesn't ask or demand special priveleges - in fact it opposes them.

Evan Wolfson. The man is a civil rights giant. Marriage equality isn't his only concern for LGBT rights. He was outspoken in his support for a fully inclusive ENDA. His organization is a part of United Enda. Wolfson is passionate about all equality, and he defends it tenaciously.

He does possess the vision to understand that the issue of marriage equality represents the freedom to choose whomever you love. Freedom to be gay. Freedom to exist.

Imagine a world where a young person is growing up and tells his or her parents that when they get older they are going to marry a same sex partner - and the parent doesn't blink. When the child can have that future. When bath houses and nightclubs and growing old alone and bitter are no longer the first assumption. When gay teen age promiscuity can be realistically discouraged with the phrase "No one will want to marry you." When the parents can still have grandchildren. When all the members of our community can live their lives to their fullest potential. That is what equality will mean. And that is why the term is important.

Gay marriage doesn't imply or state equality. Gay marriage is second class. It's something less. It's something special. For those that are comfortable or accustomed to the bathhouses and bars and the “lifestyle”, it's probably good enough. They are adults, and I am not judging them. It just isn't what I would want for my child. Sexual orientation shouldn’t determine an individual’s future. I want more, and not just for myself. Equality is for everyone, and for me that is the ticket. I want it to be part of the future. So go ahead and call me a dreamer or a purist. Or an idealist. Equality is worth the abuse. And thinking in appropriate terms is still a good first step.

LGBT Unity. Equality. Now.

Here you are, Ms. Robins, for your dining and dancing pleasure - the full text of the Littleton decision, on a university site.

Chromosomes are in #5, under conclusions.

By the way, those 3 states that won't change BC's are Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee. In addition, Texas requires a court order, and many conservative Texas judges refuse to issue orders to change BCs for TSs. I know of activists who are working on changing TN and Ohio's prohibitions. I don't know anyone T from Idaho.

I don't share many of your opinions, will continue to use transgender as an umbrella term in lobbying, and never use the term WBT. However, I do share your opinion on DOMA, unfortunately. In my state, it is part of the state constitution, and I expect to be long dead before the hick redneck voters in Hazard, Central City, Eddyville, La Grange, Rooster Run, or Paintsville, Kentucky, will ever vote to repeal it - and that's what it will take. But I don't think the Federal ENDA will be long for the world, once the Dems have 60 seats in the Senate and a larger majority in the House. It's not my lobbying priority anyway - ENDA is. And what that will require is for the Democrats in the House and Senate to get their orchiectomies reversed.

I guess I'm a know-your-audience pragmatist on language issues. I'll say "same-sex marriage" to one group and "marriage equality" to another. It depends on the sophistication and temperment of the audience. NLGJA and GLAAD both advise mainstread media to use "gay" or "gay and lesbian" instead of the obscure "LGBT" or controversial "queer" when referring to the community... it's a pragmatic decision. Whereas, for the many years I worked in the queer press, I swapped back and forth among the latter options as the situation warranted.

I think we might face a similar thing here. One audience might be most persuaded by phrases like "marriage equality" and "marriage discrimination" while another might just find them confusing. Some folks (like myself) would prefer to keep attaching "gay" or "same-sex" to the word marriage because we have no interest in mimicing heteronormative models of marriage with their failure rates, history of oppression of women, religious overtones, etc. I don't want to assimilate into heterosexual culture or prove how much I'm just like everyone else, so I'll happily keep the "gay" in my marriage. (Say's the single guys ranting on blogs on Valentine's Day)

Anyway, the bottom line for me, after having written about this issue almost weekly since 2000, the more language choices we have at our use, the better off we'll be. Different people will respond to different things, just keep talking about it.

I could care less if it's "marriage equality" or "same-sex marriage" or "gay marriage" really. No wordsmithing is going to bring marriage to Indiana.

Instead, I'd rather have the right to keep my job. My house. My child. I'd rather have a hate crimes bill. I'd rather have the right to public accommodations. But we don't get those rights because while we were on the cusp of achieving those goals as soon as the marriage boogey-man came up we in the heartland got screwed. We lost all hope of getting those things for a while because everything is "a stepping stone to gay marriage."

I don't care if they change it to "a stepping stone to marriage equality," I'm still without protections for the basics. I've shared with some of you privately the battle to get custody of our daughter even after she'd been molested repeatedly and lived with her mom in a shelter since "the mother is better than two gay men."

I just wish that our national and state orgs would work together to give those of us without even state-wide protections more assistance with covering the basics and bringing us along to where ya'll are before reaching for more for yourselves while shoving the rest of us to the back of the line. I think we have different priorities. Maybe that's why I felt for the UNITED ENDA so much; I can sympathize with the trans folk; we got overlooked in the rush to get something to benefit just part of our community too and it really, really sucks.

And of course another drawback to the push for gay marriage...

When gay teen age promiscuity can be realistically discouraged with the phrase "No one will want to marry you."

...those who argue that marriage is somehow morally superior to other ways of living, loving, and fucking.

Queer youth are already shamed for their sexuality, pushing marriage as a way of slut shaming them for it isn’t really going to help a god damn thing.

I hear you loud and clear, Bil.

What would you have done if you lived in Hawaii (where the marriage movement started to cause trouble in 1996)? Would you have moved to a state that wasn't pursing marriage because it wouldn't have been fair for Hawaii to have what Ohio (for example) doesn't?

I don't think anyone is in a rush to get an advantage over you. My partner and I certainly don't think think your family can wait because we are in the front of the line in CA. I would also doubt that was the strategy of women trying to get the vote in the early 20th century, but that was how it played out - against their wishes.

It is the unfortunate nature of marriage law - and our politicized citizenship - that has imposed this injustice on us. We (literally) have no national political advocates supporting any of us or willing to defend us. If marriage isn't handled in lawsuits demanding a hearing to explain why we are not allowed the same status as different sex couples, then it wouldn't be addressed at all.

ENDA / hate crimes legislation (on a national level) cannot be enforced or decided in a courtroom. If they are withheld from being enacted it is not the fault of couples acting on behalf of their families - it is the fault of the opponents of LGBT justice.

As tempting as it might be, please don't succumb to the urge to blame the victim. Even if CA ends up with marriage by court decision by June, we will not have federal recognition and it will not - in any way - mean that the fight is over until we all have that recognition.

It sucks, but its not up to us. I didn't do it. I'm trying to win - just like you are - on someone else's terms.

Jere stated: "I don't want to assimilate into heterosexual culture or prove how much I'm just like everyone else, so I'll happily keep the "gay" in my marriage."

This is understandable, at least as far as the assimilation. No self respecting culture wants itself to disappear. Obviously, the mainstream and hetero-sexist, cissexual culture has not done such a bang-up job of promoting a world of tolerance and acceptance. Religious and cultural fanatics still instigate wars, still instigate hate. It would be insane to aspire to that level of depravity.

Marriage can be destructive to those who abuse its’ intention. A self centered and selfish person can only succeed in a marriage at the expense of someone who is selfless and caring. Business agreements can’t succeed where only one party benefits. A personal agreement like marriage works under the same principle.

Hetero-sexist marriage does provide stability. It allows for a society to grow, and demands that couples love and nourish the next generation. Marriage provides structure and purpose, and illustrates hedonistic lifestyles as shallow and short-sighted.

Hetero-sexist couples don’t have to marry. Cissexual couples don’t have to have children. Each individual has free choice to enter into those agreements. Many do neither, or both, or fail at everything repeatedly. They have that right. Those of us in the LGBT do not. And that is where I see the problem. We deserve identical and equal rights.

Marriage equality is LGBT equality. The denial of marriage symbolizes the inequity of law pertaining to our very existence. It is only one injustice of many, but it labels us as unworthy and second class. If we want equality, we will have to attain equality in marriage and every other agreement defined under law. Since the subject is marriage, marriage equality is as concise a description as any I can imagine.

Alex, I already get that marriage equality doesn’t have a catchy ring to it. At least in your opinion, and I believe that everyone’s opinion matters. It is just a term. It is the statement that I attach to the term that I find essential - the message about real equality. I just don’t get that at all from gay marriage.

Nick, do you really want to fuck with someone who is promiscuous? Perhaps, it's just me. I am not dictating morality. I lost almost every friend i had back in the 80's. And, yes, I would be frightened to fuck just anybody. Are abstinence and monogamy such horrible and antiquated concepts? You tell me. I would be interested in your opinion.

Bill, you stated: "No wordsmithing is going to bring marriage to Indiana." I agree. But equality will do just that, and if you live for another 20 years, I believe it will happen in your lifetime. Equality is our right. If our community stands strong, we can demand it. If we first have to argue over the verbiage used in that demand it is going to take a lot longer.

Nick, that is an incredibly incoherent rationalization to allow religious fanatics to restrict our citizenship.

Just because prudish ideas of sexuality have been imposed on people for centuries doesn't mean they will be imposed on same sex families because they seek equality. In fact, there are many different sex families that eschew that flawed thinking.

Having the access to rights provided to the majority of citizens doesn't mean the psuedo morals are automatically attached to it. Part of the beauty of having the right to form our families is the ability to break the destructive and unnecessary patterns that were imposed on us.

Not defending our right to marry will not promote new ideas of sexual freedom. Whether or not we marry or how we choose to define our marriages is up to us. Different sex couples do not define their sexual ethos before being issued a marriage license.

We should have the right to do the same for ourselves - and we can do that when we have the option to obtain legal protections and privileges.

Freedom to fuck is up to the couple not the state.

Thanks AC

By the way California requires a court order to change your birth certificate along with the customary motorized letter from the doctor who did the reconstructive surgery, in that regard California is no different then Texas.
You can use transgender all you want Don't Ever Use it On ME though i am not TG.
Thanks Alex..

Without tolerance well....
you know what a group is who asks for tolerance and refuses to be tolerant... Right?

besides a group that can't tolerate having their ideas tested will end up talking to itself and that is not good.

Back to the subject at hand..
I really do believe the SSM movement has lost all of it's traction and will end in a year or two.

Sad to say 90% of the population are heterosexual and this movement has not done a very good job of winning the hearts of some of those 90%. With over half the states having defined marriage as between one man and one woman i don't see any way of turning this around.

Take care

Patrick, I guess I didn’t make myself clear enough. I am not outright opposed to gay marriage, as long as it is offered as one option amongst many different ways of creating and recognizing families and/or relationships.

But jerindc was pushing it as the only option. As if abstinence-until-marriage (which is a proven failure) is somehow morally superior to, or should be more desirable than, being a big queer non-monogamous unmarried slut.

That is what I take issue with. And I feel like we might agree on that point based on some of what you wrote in your comment. That being said, I do want to question this statement:

Having the access to rights provided to the majority of citizens doesn't mean the pseudo morals are automatically attached to it.

The fight for gay marriage is not just a fight for the "rights provided to the majority of citizens" - it's a fight for those rights through access to the institution of marriage. That is undeniable. And I think it's naïve to suggest that much of the violence and moral rhetoric (what you call pseudo morals) surrounding that institution will somehow not be transferred along with the rights to it.

I think we agree too, Nick.

They are pseudo morals as far as I'm concerned. There is nothing moral about the indoctrination of shame, fear and guilt in regard to sexuality. Marriage doesn't do that. People with obsessive attachments to Christianity do.

I hate that it sounds like I'm saying 'guns don't kill people, people kill people' but that is what I'm getting at.

When I was in a line that wrapped around San Francisco City Hall four years ago today waiting for my turn to get a marriage license I saw (at least) another couple in line that I knew. This particular couple are not monogamous and never have been. They don't even live together, but they are a couple and have been together for 15 years (by now).

They were not going to become monogamous after getting a license. They never will.

I applaud non-monogamous ethical sluts. I wish I had the looks and the energy to be that free. I tried, but it just doesn't appeal to me. I also think it is wonderful to see a couple of same sexers pushing a baby carriage. I don't think I could deal with that responsibility - financially or spiritually.

I think the sluts and the families deserve the right to form / unform / fuck / not fuck / sign up for the license / thumb their nose at institutions.

I also think these topics and ideologies can be ongoing debates within our community even after our constitutional rights as citizens are confirmed and upheld.

AC your link to Littleton doesn't work.
Please post it again.

The last time i read this (back in 2001) there was no mention of chromosomes.

Thanks in advance.

Take care

sue, try this or copy and paste it in your browser.

make sure that the dot htm ending is on it.

good luck...

Personally, I am less concerned about "Marriage Equality" or "Freedom to Marry" than I am about "Freedom to Bury" ...

In Indiana, I have been told that your next-of-kin controls what happens to your corpus when you die. Period. If you are legally married, your next-of-kin is your spouse; if you're not married, your next-of-kin is your nearest blood relative: (1) children (2) parents (3) siblings (4) cousins, etc.

There is ** NO ** legal document, I am told, that one can execute that will legally guarantee that your own wishes will be followed regarding disposition of remains when you die. One can express one's wishes in the Will and Testament, but these clauses are not legally binding.

My whole family wants to bury me in the family churchyard. It's the last place I want to spend eternity. Once the congregant homophobes read the name on my marker, they will be literally pissing on my grave, and the smell of the entire cemetery will be worse than an abandoned kitty-litter pan.

So, hopefully I won't die in Indiana. If I have a bit of forewarning, I'll leave the state. And with a little less warning, I might marry the nearest trustworthy atheist female that I can find. A nice elderly atheist lady in her late eighties, the wealthier the better, might be my best candidate. Atheists are the most honest people around when it comes to keeping promises, y'know! All this trouble just to be sure my fat lifeless butt gets burned to cinders, my final contribution to AJ's carbon footprint in the sky.

Almost forgot ... Happy Valentine's Day!


The program in use here doesn't wrap links too well.
At least on my monitor, it cut the .htm at the end. Put it on, it'll work.

Thanks for the CA BC data.

.....and no, I won't call you tg.

AC and jerindc i copied it to my browser intact it didn't work

I have the wherewithal to to know that the link was not complete I copied the extension to the to the file name and it still didn't work.

Please send the link to
or use HTML to enter the link it won't wrap and will be usable.

What university is that by the way?

Take care

it works now.
That domain was blocked in my firewall because of past problems with someone in their IT department.

Take care

The moral of the Littleton story is Don't amend your birth certificate. Get a court order for a new birth certificate and to seal the old one. Nearly all of those 47 states you can do that in.

Littleton didn't do that, an amended birth certificate says on it what was amended.

This case has little or no effect on most post-transition females who decide to marry.

Take care

As a gay man who has now been married for 9 years it still bugs me that people still want to call my marriage a "gay marriage." When people of different ethnicities marry people no longer say, "They went and got an interracial marriage," they say, "They got married." The fact that most people still make a big deal that it's not "marriage equality" but "gay marriage" shows the inherent sexism (because preventing me from marrying a man because I'm a man is discrimination based upon sex, not because I'm gay) of our country.

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