Nina Smith

Gays and lesbians should wed with their wallets.

Filed By Nina Smith | June 05, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage, getting married, marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

"Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution." - Mae West

Recently, many of us in California had reason to celebrate as the State's Supreme Court ruled the ban here on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Since then, I've received many emails from friends asking if I'm going to marry my partner sometime after June 17th.

My partner and I have talked about this many times and always agreed that we would wait until it was recognized at the federal level. But we've changed our minds and we're heading to the altar. Although it won't be a summer wedding - we think it's best to wait and make sure the conservatives don't win the ballot initiative this November that would amend the state constitution.

But once it looks like it's going to stick, then yes, we'll be tying the knot. Here's why others should consider joining us even if your state doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships or civil unions. It's best articulated by Brian Richardson in The Advocate:

But why wait for justice? Those who can afford it should travel to places that fully recognize our relationships and get married already!

It's true that nonresident marriages will not be recognized in our home states (thank you, Defense of Marriage Act), but we can still send a powerful message. Just as we often use our dollars to support gay-friendly companies like Subaru and Disney, it's time we wed with our wallets. Take your wedding banquets to Boston or Vancouver, Canada. Honeymoon in Amsterdam or Cape Town, South Africa.

If you can afford a destination wedding, have your ceremony in the few places that fully recognize same-sex marriage -- Massachusetts, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, or Spain. By supporting communities that support us, we show other regions still hostile to marriage equality just how much they are missing out.

And in a few days, add California to this list. Here's one Queercents reader that did this back in 2003 when she took her partner to Canada and got married. And why Canada?

In the summer of 2003 you could go to Vermont for a civil union, or to California to register for domestic partnership, or to Hawaii to declare your Reciprocal Beneficiary Relationship. Talk about romantic. None of these civilly unioned partnership-recognition deals came with any significant benefits that you couldn't already arrange on your own. And those state-granted benefits did not travel beyond the states' borders. I didn't want a domestic partnership, civil union or reciprocal beneficent relationship.

Ontario said, "Come get married. We'd love to have you as our guest." Yes, married, the same as everyone else. Even if the U.S. wouldn't recognize our marriage, the fact that it was a real marriage meant something to me. I'd be happy to go to Canada to get it.

Well, the good ole' United States of America is about to finally get it. That's "states" and in this economy money seems to be talking. Back to The Advocate article:

New York City comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. estimates his city's economy would gain $142 million in the first three years after implementation of same-sex marriage legislation.

Let's take our millions up the coast to Massachusetts or across the border to Canada. Because only when state legislatures realize how much money they're losing will they help us gain the equality we're seeking.

Yes, mayors and legislators should support marriage equality because it's the right thing to do. But for those who aren't there yet, we must expand our argument beyond what is right to what is lucrative. If we wed with our wallets now, it won't be long before businesses and politicians wake up to the economic benefits of equality. Then the real America will start to agree with Mayor Quimby [of The Simpsons] and recognize that now is the time to legalize gay money -- I mean gay marriage.

Where are my gay dollars going to get spent first? Wedding rings, of course! What about you?

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My gay dollars are going to a cake, flowers, clothes and everything for our upcoming wedding in Cali. We are doing all of the shopping in San Fran when we first arrive so our money will go to Cali, not Florida.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 5, 2008 9:58 PM

Nina, interesting post. Waymon, be sure to carry empty luggage bags!

We're considering tying the knot in October. Oct 6 will be our 10 year anniversary.

Waymon: Congrats... we're glad to hear you're making the trek to California! It's good for gays. It's good for the state's economy.

Bil: Are you coming to California too?

Nina, you make a really fine point. After the 2004 election, I told my family that I wouldn't travel to any state that had a gay marriage ban. Why should they get my tourism dollars? That has proven to be unsustainable, since I have family in Utah, Arizona, and Illinois. But I still wouldn't live in any of those places long term. (I'm getting the hell out of Phoenix ASAP!)

Anyway, great post!

jmontarsi | June 8, 2008 8:28 AM

Concerning the recognition of gay marriages.

First. (Roughly paraphrased) the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution says that a contract valid in one state must be valid in another. The Federal Protection of Marrigage Act violates this Interstate Commerce Clause. With THAT understood. Get married in Canada or California.

Second. Getting married in countries in the European Union, such as Spain, Netherlands or Belgium more complicated than you think. One of the partners has to be a resident, you have to register at the City Hall (Commune). The Non-EU partner has to get a special visa. It's bureaucratic nightmare. On the plus side, the USA is a signer of the Hague Convention as are most of the countries of the EU. Therefore a marriage valid in the Netherlands or the Benelux is technically valid in the USA! Perhaps someone should challenge this sooner rather than later as this may be a good "front" on the war for marriage recognition across national and state borders. If a case were won as a result of the Hague Convention Agreement, then it would be easier to argue against the Federal Marriage Protection Act. Once that dispicable law is out of the way, your California or Canadian marriage is automatically "recognizable" in your home state. (The devil is in the details) but yeah, I'd advocate not spending one thin dime in any state that has a anti-gay marriage law on the books. Reward California. Reward Canada. Reward New York and Massachusetts.

That's my two cents towards marriage...and "Thanks" Mayor Newsom and "Thanks" Justices of the California Supreme Court.