I started the MEGA Family Project over six years ago with the notion that LGBT couples should be afforded the right to marry our same-sex partners, and receive the same rights, benefits, and obligations that our straight counterparts receive through the institution of marriage. Living in a conservative state like Georgia, I have no illusion that marriage equality is coming here any time soon.
However, I have always believed we should be moving the issue forward by doing two things: 1. Educating people about the discrimination same-sex couples face in the absence of marriage; and 2. Increasing public awareness about our families by becoming more visible in Georgia’s family landscape.
Interesting changes have taken place since I first took up the cause of marriage equality in Georgia. Six years ago, it was most likely that supporters of marriage equality were activist types who were following the marriage equality movement in the news. It was kind of a radical notion to want marriage equality.
Today, a short six years later, marriage equality seems to be the expectation among most same-sex couples I meet. Couples routinely plan their weddings in one of the states or countries that legally recognize same-sex couples through civil marriage. Younger people especially seem much more likely to be on a path similar to our heterosexual counterparts: first the wedding, then the kids.
Even though there is no expectation that marriages by same-sex couples will become recognized in Georgia anytime soon, most people seem to be snubbing their noses at Georgia and getting married anyway.
As someone who has a marriage certificate from another state, our marriage was both a huge commitment on both our parts and an important validation of our relationship. Though we had been living together 6 years, getting married was a much bigger commitment. We live differently today as a result of our marriage.
Our marriage has created a solid foundation for our relationship. We take it quite seriously, perhaps more seriously than most of our straight counterparts. Like so many things in LGBT families, we had to work hard to get married. We put a lot of thought into it. It wasn’t a big fancy wedding, but it was a huge day in our lives that we will always remember. Not because we had a big fancy wedding, but because it was a day when we were validated as human beings. We were finally able to marry the person we loved, and the state government where we were married legally recognized our relationship.
Marriage has strengthened our relationship. We think like married people who plan to spend the rest of our lives together. We take care of each other in every way, and plan for our future together as a married couple. We aren’t separate people sharing the same bed. We see ourselves as “one” and make decisions in the present and for our future as a team.
Though not recognized by the state of Georgia, we recognize our marriage in Georgia. Though it annoys some LGBT people, and confuses some heterosexuals, we refer to each other as “wife” instead of “partner.” We do this because we are married, we think of ourselves as married, and if we want others to treat us as a married couple, then we must give them the frame for how they should view our relationship.