When I was pregnant and went to the doctor for the first time I had to fill out the obvious form with my name, address and social security number. I also had to check a box for marital status and was surprised to see that there were only 2 options here in the US: single and married. At the time I wasn’t married so I had to check single. But I wasn’t single either; I was living together with Dr. BrownEyes and considering that we had been together for five years and had decided to move to a different country together and have a baby together it felt weird to check ‘single’. It especially felt weird (and a bit sad) when the nurse asked me in a hopeful but doubtful voice whether the father of the baby was going to be involved at all.
I was surprised to see only those two options, because back home (in the country that was the first in the world to legalize gay marriage over ten years ago) there are always more than two options to the question of marital status. For example you can choose the option ‘cohabitant’ if you are living together but you aren’t married. You can even make a legal ‘samenlevingscontract’, which by the way is not just meant for people who are in a romantic relationship but can also exist between two people who decide to live together (as friends or roommates). It can legally specify anything from who bought the couch and who bought the tv to what would happen with the children when one of the partners passes away. The next option is a registered partnership. This was initially meant for gay people before it was legal for them to get married, but can also be entered into by heterosexual couples. And then the final box you can check is ‘married’. I have to add that back home, marriage is by far not as big of a deal as here in the US and many of my friends, even those with children are not married.
|That's really Dr. BrownEyes and me!|
For me, the initial (but not very romantic) reason to get married was so that everything was automatically arranged for BlueEyes in case anything was to happen to either of us. However, now that I am married I have to admit that it feels different. Not just because it’s much harder and more expensive to split up, but also because now we are officially connected to each other (and because we got to have this awesome day and I got to walk around in a beautiful dress the whole day).
So why am I writing this blog post? I’m writing it because the situation with the nurse asking me if Dr. BrownEyes was going to be involved at all since we weren’t married made me feel a little bit what it would be like if you would always have to check the ‘single’ box, even though you had been living together with your partner for an eternity. And for me it wasn’t even that I wasn’t allowed to get married, I had just chosen not to do so. I can only imagine how left out you must feel if you cannot take part in all aspects of a society just because of the gender of your partner. It makes me sad and angry to think about that, and I hope that soon everyone will realize that legalizing gay marriage doesn’t mean the end of civilization or destruction of the institution of marriage. I'm also writing this post as a part of the diversity in science carnival for pride hosted by GertyZ.