Monday, 20 May 2013

On straight, cis folks and Civil Partnerships

A day of debate on Marriage Equality has brought many things, lots of arseholery, of course – but bright sparks like Gerald Howarth’s nasty homophobia becoming that rather awesome #aggressivehomosexuals hashtag on twitter. Well played my siblings, well played indeed :).

But it also brought a huge amount of debate about straight, cis folks (since there are straight trans people who are currently in civil partnerships)  having access to civil partnerships and I am rather annoyed. So let’s look at that.

Before I begin this, I feel the need to remind everyone what a civil partnership is and what it was created for – the history people like to forget

It was not created as a choice equal to marriage that allowed you to gain some legal rights while avoiding the kyrarchy/tradition/religion/whatever connected to marriage. It was not a union that meant something different or special from marriage. It was not created as a union for people who are uncomfortable with marriage for whatever reason, want to protest marriage or object to marriage or change marriage or, indeed, do anything else to marriage, our culture, our society, our tradition, our religions or any other damn thing in the entire country or even the world.

Now, it’s possible you can repurpose civil partnerships to do any or all of the above, but that wasn’t what it was created for, it's not what it is.

Civil partnerships were a turd of homophobia, polished up all shiny, to be fed to GBLT folks because we were fighting for some legal recognition and marriage was considered too shiny, too special, too precious to be sullied by the likes of us. It was a way to concede some of those rights while still making our lesser status in society clear and overt. It was another legal entry in the annals of “why nasty GBLT people are beneath the precious cishets”.  It still is.

Don’t ignore that. Don’t forget that history. To do so is dismissive, privileged and homophobic.

And I say that as someone who is in a civil partnership and am painfully aware of how civil partnerships are treated.

This is what we are trying to fight now with marriage equality. We are trying to remove the law that says we are less, our families are less, our loves, are less, we are less. We are trying to get the highest authority in the country to stop legitimising homophobia, to stop broadcasting that we are lesser people with inferior lives, to stop insisting that we are less due respect and full membership of society. That is marriage equality and that is what we are fighting. And there is a lot to fight – there are some very needed amendments for this bill coming up and some more Tory sabotage to fight against.

But today we spent hours talking about cishet people and civil partnerships. I don’t know if Maria Miller is right and there will be all kind of delay for the bill – it’s likely she’s lying she is, after all, a politician and a Tory so chances are good. But I’m unwilling to take the risk and, regardless, we still spend hours during a debate on equality for GBLT people talking about the plight of bloody cishet people

Does everything have to be about you? Seriously? Is it actually possible to do something without cishet people deciding they absolutely have to be involved?

Do you want to take the turd that is civil partnerships and maybe use it to fertilise something better, something different? Great! Do so! By all means fight to use civil partnerships to create something good; so long as you remember and respect the history of civil partnerships and what they represented – AND STILL REPRESENT. Remember, civil partnership isn’t a special toy we got and you were denied, it’s the scraps off your table you expected us to settle for.  Maybe you can make more of it than that – I hope you do.

But do it on your own damn time. This law is about achieving equality and righting an injustice on a marginalised group. It is not about you, cishet people. But you are deciding to use us, our fight, our struggle to further your own goal. It doesn’t matter how interesting or worthy or progressive or excellent that goal is – it’s supremely entitled  for you to jump on us like this for your own agenda – especially if you risk derailing or delaying our actual struggle for equality.

I’d like it if we could secure our seat at the table before we focused on whatever gourmet meal you intend to make from the crusts and scraps you threw to us.