Alex Blaze

We shall overcome... having our marriage thought of as a state contract

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 18, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Bird, California, fundamentalism, gay marriage, marriage, marriage license, same-sex marriage

This is really, really silly. I hope that this won't catch on elsewhere just because it would make me lose faith in humanity (via PZ Meyers):

In May, after the California State Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal, the courts mandated state officials to provide gender-neutral licenses and other marriage forms. "Bride" and "groom" became "Party A" and "Party B."

Bird and Codding have refused to complete the new forms, a stand that has already cost them. Because their marriage is not registered with the state, Bird cannot sign up for Codding's medical benefits or legally take his name. They are now exploring their options, she said.

They refuse to get married because a state contract refers to them as equals? Do they go through every state form they fill out and look for equally evil gender-neutral language?

We've had more than a few posts here on TBP about the meaning of marriage and what it implies when the government says that specific conjugal relationships are more valid than other conjugal relationships or non-conjugal relationships.

The idea that same-sex couples getting married changes the institution of marriage significantly isn't very convincing, but it is a product of a change in marriage that happened decades ago, when legally the institution stopped being about enforcing gender roles and started being a means for two people to live together.

This couple seems convinced that their marriage is about specific gender roles, and if the government doesn't tell them who they are, they simply don't want to participate in the public sphere.

And, like the authoritarian subjects social conservatives are, they see it as a violation of their rights if the government doesn't define their gender roles for them:

And Rachel Bird described her position as "personal - not religious."

"We just feel that our rights have been violated," she said.

To some, the couple's stand may seem frivolous. But others believe "bride" and "groom" are terms that are too important for the state to set aside.

"Those who support (same-sex marriage) say it has no impact on heterosexuals," said Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. "This debunks that argument."

Um, that's just dumb. This couple chose not to get married, so the impact was created just by them.

Unsurprisingly, this probably has a lot to do with the father of the Person A bride:

Bird's father, Doug Bird, pastor of Roseville's Abundant Life Fellowship, said he is urging couples not to sign the new marriage forms, and that he is getting some support from congregants and colleagues at local churches.

"I would encourage you to refuse to sign marriage licenses with 'Party A' and 'Party B,' " he wrote in a letter that he sent to them. "If ever there was a time for the people of the United States to stand up and let their voices be heard - this is that time."

Well, anything that reduces the number of people getting married would make me happy as a Radical Homosexual Activist, so go for it. But don't come crying to the rest of us when you find out that not signing marriage licenses that you don't like leads to you not being married.

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Well, maybe in 2060 or so the California Supreme Court might agree that the California Constitution gives a right to have the state print up special contract forms for every conceivable term same-sex couples could possible want to call themselves. Among them: "Honey" and "Sweetheart", maybe?

I have this image of two leather bears dealing with "Bride" and "Groom".

It would seem to me that the state wouldn't object at all if under the labels "Party A" and "Party B" the pair sign their respective names, insert a comma, and then write whatever title they like. Somewhat like an officer of a corporation signing a contract with "John Doe, President".

But on the other hand, 2060 will be here before you know it.

I think both sides of this controversy are wrong.

When the couple filled out their marriage license application they wrote "Bride" next to the words "Party B" and "Groom" next to the words "Party A". They didn't cross anything off the application, so I am not sure why the Placer County Clerk-Recorder Registrar of Voters rejected the application - it seems trite.

When told they needed to fill out a new application, the couple refused. Again, I don't see why they needed to dig in their heels. After all, the words "Bride" and "Groom" will no doubt be on the marriage certificate they get through their church, and this is probably more important to them than what is on the marriage license.

You can see a photo of one of the signatures, and read more about the controversy here.

Historically, once the Western Europeans got religion out of the mix in marriage, they were able to accept marriage as a legal contract under civil law. The word "marriage" comes from the French word for city hall, because you went to the mayor's office to get married if you didn't want to marry in church.

If Europeans were able to get to this point after 500 years of Protestants and Catholics burning each other at the stake over marriage issues, then surely the United States could get there too.

Yes, it would be nice if our country could just dispense with the silly stuff. Maybe the forms should have blanks in the appropriate places, so you can write "bride" and "groom" if you want...or "party A and B" if you want. But's a civil contract, no different than being business partners.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | September 18, 2008 9:51 PM

Well it's a stupid thing to get bent out of shape over, though I think City Hall could've come up with something better than "Party A/Party B." Couple: ________________ and _________________ or even just two blanks to be filled in however the couple wants. Though, there's no reason they can't print forms with "Bride/Groom" for the traditionalists.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 19, 2008 12:05 AM

I believe what is truly important here is not the semantics, but the timing. This is being used as a rallying point around the anti marriage fundies. I would not be surprised if the Clerk registrar was in on it to be certain to refuse this document to make a controversy of convenience to their argument of exclusion. After all another clerk decided to stop performing all marriages in their county right?

Is it not interesting that they would choose this course and avoid the availability of medical benefits for the spouse? I smells me a rat!

However, if enough fools follow this course and get bitten by a health crisis they could have covered perhaps they will start to understand the challenges to Gay families and consider the marriage "contract" for what it is. A legal agreement is that, a relationship is what you determine it to be. Thanks Alex.

While I agree with you here, Robert:

I believe what is truly important here is not the semantics, but the timing. This is being used as a rallying point around the anti marriage fundies.

I have to say I don't think it's a big conspiracy by the county clerk. The forms were printed by the state.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 21, 2008 7:02 AM

While the forms were printed by the state the bride and groom wrote in "bride" and "groom" and it was rejected by the clerk register who could have just chosen to ignore it. By not choosing to ignore it he gave them a rallying issue.

I would not be surprised if this was an intentional rejection (nod, nod, wink, wink) to facilitate their publicity.