I was married, legally, in the Netherlands to my Dutch partner. After we came back I was in this weird position of being married in some countries, single in others and a criminal in a few. I never knew what to put on forms.
I’m divorced now, and I still don’t know what to put on forms – according to Australian law I’ve never been married. And believe me, it was a compete hassle trying to get divorced in a country that doesn’t legally recognise that you were married in the first place. We had to get the Dutch court to do it, despite the fact they said quite rightly that it wasn’t their jurisdiction as neither of us lived there.
I don’t think I’ll get married again, though I guess you never know. However, having had the experience of stating my commitment to my partner in a registry office in front of a state official and receiving a marriage certificate to prove it, I want everyone to have that option. It meant something important. We were understood by our families, friends, social institutions and the law to be embarking on something together. I felt the power and joy of that, and was conscious of the legal rights and recognition it meant I now enjoyed. It still means something to me, to have been married, even if it didn’t work out in the end.
I totally understand the arguments about marriage being an outdated patriarchal institution, but we grow up with it all around us and it carries enormous significance. Either we end marriage altogether or we open it up to everybody (which I suspect will transform it anyway). Anything else is discrimination. Simple as that.
January 10, 2016