Monday, February 27, 2006

It's hard to be a caramel addict with a cavity.

So. Chris and I are conscientious objectors to marriage.

I've got a link on the sidebar, there, to the Alternatives to Marriage Project, which I encourage anyone looking to look into. They've in particular got a wonderful page to the effect of "Why should Domestic Partnerships exclude heterosexuals?" that lays out a hell of a lot of good reasons why people allowed by law to marry would not, and while I don't like it labeled "heterosexuals" I understand that they only mean to imply a different-sexed union, rather than one necessarily between heterosexuals (as ours is not).

What struck me while I was reading it was the selfish recognition that almost everything on that list applies to us, somehow. While we're not widowed or religious in such a way that having come out of another marriage we couldn't marry, everything else was affirming. We've come out of negative situations in which marriage has gained negative connotations all by itself. I am not heterosexual, and do grapple with the spectre of being transgendered (and if I think I maybe should be male, am I really allowed to marry a man?). We're feminist, and the institution in its current "traditional" form is incredibly sexist (that is, "traditional" as in a woman is "given away" by the male that currently holds her as property to the male who soon will, that she may bear him children, give him her property, and pay for the wedding, with the promise to obey him). Historically, the additional aspects of explicit dowries, arranged marriages, and strictly economic and reproductive reasons to join in marriage also add just a little more negativity. Disgust with the concept of the "sanctity of marriage," in relation to this, or the idea of it as being a traditionally one-man-one-woman romantic Christian affair (which is frankly just false and recent--remember biblical tales of men with several wives? or remarriage to your husband's brother? or being a gift to a man? what about the plethora of other global cultures, in some of which same sex unions were not banned? or how just a few generations ago, marriages in the Western Christian sense were often strictly economic?) turn us away.

Furthermore, and maybe even foremost, the fact that it is a prejudiced, exclusionary institution, by current law, has us at least tangentially joined as part of the Marriage Boycott. A couple of generations ago, people in America couldn't marry over perceived racial lines--basically, only homoracial marriages were allowed. Is allowing only heterosexual marriage any less nonsensical, any less bigoted, any less inhumane? How does preventing a loving couple from, for instance, having a legitimate marriage under which to raise their children, while allowing a hundred women to compete on reality TV for a rich man's hand in marriage, hold up nobly the institution of marriage? Different-sex marriages do not currently require the bearing of children, the sharing of surnames, or the placement of a woman in a home and a man in the workforce, and in fact, as a society, we purport to value marriage for love and companionship (and sometimes for raising children), rather than strictly for breeding and monetary reasons. So where's the problem? What makes a trophy, loveless, different-sex marriage somehow legitimately better than a same-sex marriage of love?

Not a damn thing.

So, for all that and a bevy of other good reasons, we don't want to get married. Instead, we registered a domestic partnership (Marriage Lite™, "Hitched!™" the Home Game), in Berkeley. The only place in the area who would register a different-sexed domestic partnership without residency requirements. Because, of course, while we find our reasons good and legitimate, and though they recognize, insure, and generally give a liiiittle cred to a same-sex DPs, the state isn't going to recognize our purportedly diff-sexed DP any more than it would recognize a same sex marriage.


Now, I don't think I want to get married even if they fix the damn institution. I never liked the idea of a big pile of paperwork and legal documentation sitting there as a reason to stay together (and while I understand that's not the reason people tend to get married, I value the idea of staying together without it, and not being able to use it as an excuse in a relationship gone foul, without substance). Ideally, I think every relationship should have the option of marriage AND domestic partnership, without DPs serving as a ghetto for those not otherwise allowed to get married and marriage being shotgunned (usually by economic considerations) on those who aren't given the option of a legally recognized DP. Frankly, I prefer Marriage Lite™.

But as a person staying at home writing and working without pay, while my lover is working in a fashion that is paid, I'm in a sticky spot. They are, essentially, trying to shotgun me. My household income is such that there's no way I could get Medicaid/Medical or otherwise cheap insurance. But as a person without an income, I can't really afford to shell for more expensive coverage. And while we're doing just fine, financially, on one income, one broken leg without insurance is going to mean a lot of money out of pocket. And, more immediately, I haven't seen a dentist in 3 years. And I have, I am certain, cavities. And a wisdom tooth they missed when they were prying the things out of my face (they didn't fit--this one doesn't fit). And my glasses are shot. And my eyes have gotten worse. And I suspect myself to be at least a little hypoglycemic and hypothyroidic, in addition to the joys of my digestic life (GERD, IBS, lactose intolerance, etc), which just sort've serve to make things interesting.

And sometimes it feels like my heart has forgotten how to work. Sucks down and then leaps back up, shuddering, again (which is mostly only concerning because of a lot of other "little things," like that my limbs go numb with frequency, my muscles spasm, my joints are weak and arthritic [at 22 years old], my eyes and ears and balance are weakening, etc.).

Basically, I need a good tune up.

So, here's the thought: Political Stunt/Act of Desperation™

While I am strongly opposed to getting married, and do not think someone should have to to get appropriate, preventative medical care, I wonder if it mightn't be a good idea to go sign a marriage certificate, pop it over by the school, get onto the insurance, get as much work done as is applicable, get a good general checkup, physical, supposed-to-be-yearly woman's exam and so forth, glasses, fillings, etc., and then peaceably sign for a dissolution of marriage. The certificate and papers and touch of premium would still be a lot cheaper than paying uninsured for the work. They obviously don't ask questions at the start of these things, and we are a fucking no-fault state. It gives in, for a few months, to marriage for economic considerations, but it makes a good showing of Bullshit! on this sanctity of marriage thing. Plus, then I could say, when we explain my lover's marital past, that my first marriage ended in divorce, too. Which is almost worth it on its own.

There is the dilemma of giving in. I don't get to stand solid with my non-het sisters and brothers by suffering medically, BUT my non-het sisters and brothers can get their medical care through their DPs (which I cannot), so I think that's not something I have to worry about. And we'd get rid of it right away, so it wouldn't be used in taxes, etc, and it wouldn't get me insurance in a long term sense, or any of the other trappings of marriage. So I think the political-stuntiness would outweigh the brief act of marrying, by taking it back once the institution had been used like the economic whore it is (er, can be--no offense intended to my sisters and brothers in loving, egalitarian marriages). Getting into it just to get back off again.

The personal is political, right? It's at least something to think about.

1 comment:

Lulu--Back in Town said...

Then again, it'll probably be easier to go with one of those ameriplans or some such for a few months, dredge through some fillings and glasses, and be done with it.

Still, it was an interesting idea to play around with.