Waymon Hudson

My Marriage Decision

Filed By Waymon Hudson | June 16, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: assimilation, California, gay marriage, marriage, marriage equality

This is an exciting day for our community. Marriage Equality is a reality in California. It's a day for celebration and reflection.

Here on Bilerico, there has been much discussion about the importance of "marriage" and the fight for equality. Our own Mattilda wrote a thought-provoking piece called "What I hate most about Gay Marriage." It spoke about the assimilationist, heteronormative, and patriarchal nature of marriage, as well as the frustration over how marriage seems to be the "big goal" for many activists. The discussion in the comment thread was interesting and at times heated, ranging from marriage supporters to marriage haters.

I understand the debate about the importance of marriage in our community. I do think, however, that like much debate it dissolves into broad overstatements and assumptions about those you don't agree with. That's why I wanted to talk about my personal decision to get married to my partner.

It is a very personal and individual choice that I am extremely excited about. My partner and I have been together for 6 years. We have our civil union from Vermont and have shared a commitment ceremony with our families. In fact, our family jokingly refers to our Vermont civil union as a "covenant marriage" because if we would have to live in Vermont for one year to dissolve it.

Since we live in Florida, getting married in California won't have a direct, legal impact on our lives. We will return home to our state as the same strangers in the eyes of the law that we are now. So why do it?

Because it means something to us.

On some level, it has a symbolic meaning to the two of us. Do we need it to "legitimize" our relationship? Hell no. Are we incomplete without the tag "married"? Nope. Will this make our love more real or more respected by those that hate gay people? No. But on some very personal level, we like the idea of getting married, something we both thought we would never be able to do in our lifetimes.

I have no doubt that marriage isn't right for everyone. Couples should have the freedom to choose how they define their relationship. I now have the freedom to make that choice for myself and have chosen marriage.

Now, does that mean I am assimilating into some heteronormative construct? I personally don't think so. I'm not going to be become June Cleaver and be subordinate to my husband because we have a marriage certificate. I actually think that we are smashing that patriarchal construct by marrying. We have no pre-assigned, "expected" gender roles. The roles in our relationship are defined by what is needed, not by what is expected. We are equals in every way and make sure that everyone knows and respects that. Trust me when I say there will be no "do you promise to obey your husband" in our marriage vows.

Even our families have opened their minds about roles in marriage by seeing our relationship. When my sister got married, she referred to her relationship as "like Waymon and Anthony's- completely equal to one another." My partner's 89-year-old grandmother is even starting to understand in her own way the different dynamic that same-sex relationships bring to the table. She once pulled me aside and told me "I think you're better than a wife." For someone from her generation, that's a big statement to me. We have the opportunity as a community to break age old societal shackles associated with marriage.

I do think that marriage shouldn't be the "be all, end all" goal of our movement. We have huge issues facing us- passing a fully-inclusive ENDA, repealing DADT, health care, making sure all families are protected and recognized whether married or not, and many others. Yet I do think that having the option to marry and changing the view of what marriage can be is an important symbolic step for our entire movement. Anthony and I won't change by having a piece a paper, but we can make a change in what that piece of paper means to everyone.

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"We have the opportunity as a community to break age old societal shackles associated with marriage."

Waymon, you are so right in our changing the 'concept' of marriage 'n to each their own meaning of love 'n commitment, that's what individuality means too.

And congratulations, Waymon.

Interesting. Your argument's a lot like what I hear Judith Butler's is in her new book - that attaching the "institution" as a verbal act to a different signified object expands the word and takes away from its previous meaning.

Of course, I dont' know if that's the argument she makes for certain because i haven't read it yet because i'm in a French town that doesn't have a bookstore that carries butler, but if I had read it, I'm sure I could add something cool here. Otherwise, that's an interesting perspective on that discussion. Thanks, waymon!

Congratulations loved ones.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 17, 2008 8:25 AM

It is a personal choice and recognition of your freedom to choose. Friends of ours have been getting married on average every other year in various countries and finally in Vancouver BC. I keep waiting for the email telling me they will be in California.

I am very happy for you both and hopeful for a very bright future.

Waymon, as I have said before, I am truly happy for the both of you. However, the same-sex marriage issue has been a multi-edged sword for us. To ban it, could have an affect to nullify the legal marriages where one of the partners transition. Others are told they cannot marry people that have the same chromosomes as they do, even if the chromosomes are not verifed. Some places will not allow trans people to marry anyone.

Then, we go back to 2004 where major local and national organizations spent all of their efforts to play along with the Religious Right and fight banning SS marriage, while dropping all of their efforts on things they could actually get passed. It was fueled on by GL people who could afford not to focus on employment rights, or hate crimes because they could pass for straight. There is a lot of bitterness that still remains in our community for that.

Personally, I see all sides of this and understand all angles. it is why I loved Mattilda's articles. I know that if the relationship I am currently in goes into the future and California successfully dodges the ban bullet, we may also get married there for all the same reasons you are. If the relationship does not go that far, then my straight marriage of 17 years would be the only one in my life. I cannot read the future.

Since the very beginning of my trip to this blog, you have shown me and everyone here the beauty of your soul. I can only pray that you life together is a long and amazing one.

James Baldridge | June 17, 2008 3:38 PM

I am just glad that younger GLBT people are even considering marriage! Personally, with the history my family has had with the institution, it terrifies me, but I do not hold that to be true of everyone.

The legal recognition of commitment is a very moving prospect. Knowing that I COULD, if I wanted to, legaly marry is exciting.

If someone tells me "No" and the reason why is "because I told you so", well, that hasn't flown with me since I was about 8 years old. "Because it has always been that way" is just as bad. I am true Aries and I will butt heads with those ridiculous statements. If I am given a sensible, well thought out reason, I might be able to go with it.

But that is the whole issue. The last century was all about making the playing field even: women's right to vote, black power, recognizing Native Americans as citizens, for goddess' sake! This country has been frought with people who fought and died so that we are more and more equal. A lot of us, in the GLBT community and lots of other places, do not see the sense in "Marriage is only viable between man and woman." There is no reason to this reason. Says who? The Bible? Well, I am not Christian, so I do not believe the Bible is "the word of God." Now what? "That's the way it has always been!" Well, these times, they are a changin'!

So, after all this, congrats on your decision to marry! I would send flowers if I knew where to send them! I would sing Shania's "From this Moment" for you! (schlocky but I love good schmaltz!) I am encouraged by your courage, and touched by your devotion. Just remember, NY State now recognizes your marriage, so you can vacation there as spouses!

La chaim and many, many years of wedded bliss!

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 17, 2008 3:43 PM

Excellent post, Waymon!

And I'm with you on every point. I fully understand the varying reactions to the institution of marriage among members of our community. Ultimately, though, I believe same-sex marriage comes down to a simple question of equal rights under the law. The first generation of kids who grow up in a time when boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls will find it a whole lot harder to consider us second-class citizens and easy targets for bigoted attacks.

Congratulations on your marriage!!!

Thanks for the well wishes, everyone! I am very excited.

I think this is a highly personal choice that means different things to different people. My hope is that while we debate the importance of marriage equality to our movement, we don't start making sweeping statements about each other or what "marriage" should mean. Our enemies do that enough for us.

And James, maybe we'll head to New York for a honeymoon. We can take you up on that Shania Twain song when we are in town. :)