In the run-up to Ireland’s Marriage Equality referendum on May 22nd, I’ve invited a series of guest posters– people from Ireland or who live here, of many different backgrounds and orientations- to share their thoughts on the referendum, the campaign, and what it means to them. Contributions to Guest Posts for Equality are welcome- drop me a message.
Jennifer Harwood-Smith is a sometime science fiction writer and critic living in Dublin but longing for sunnier climes. She is addicted to her keyboard and surfaces occasionally to knit. She blogs at The Shiny Nerd.
So here’s the thing about marriage for me. I’m not really that interested. If I do get married, cool, but for me the important part was always the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I’m overjoyed for any friends who do get married, and I do enjoy a good wedding, but I don’t feel an overwhelming need to walk up the aisle. I’ve never seen the piece of paper as an absolute necessity, and even if I do get married, I’d be inclined towards a cheap wedding and a really great holiday. But if I was told I couldn’t have it just because of who I loved? Then I’d be angry and upset, because to deny anyone the right to marry the person they love is to deny the validity of that love.
My young man feels much the same about marriage, and Ireland’s lack of proper common law spouse laws is frustrating us. For anything to our benefit, such as income tax breaks, and automatic rights which married couples have to the family home or to be at each other’s side in hospital, we have to sort it out ourselves. However when it comes to getting jobseekers, then we count as a couple and can be denied it if one of us makes too much. The reasoning behind this, apparently, is to make sure no one is penalised for having a family, and that families don’t pay more to the state than single people do. Which I will agree, sort of makes sense. This, as you can imagine, is a nuisance, but one which we have a choice over. The only thing stopping us from marriage (aside from it being impractical at this stage of our careers) is ourselves. No one would say a word against us getting married because we are a heterosexual couple. And while I love my young man with all of my heart (seriously, this is movie love, and before I met him, I had no idea that could actually be real), I don’t see why our love should be deemed more right than that of a same sex couple. Continue reading “Guest Posts for Equality: it’s about recognition.”