I would think that it is fair to say that getting married forces one to articulate one's assumptions and confront expectations. It has certainly forced me to confront mine, and to articulate and affirm the values and ideas which I hold most dear. For me, these would be feminism and marriage equality. I was definitely a feminist and a proponent of marriage equality before my engagement; getting engaged has not suddenly made a progressive out of me. However, the prospect of my impending marriage (to a lovely, understanding, open-minded and progressive straight cis-man) has forced me to clarify my perspectives on these two ideas to a much greater extent than ever before. In the process, I have become even firmer in my support of these two positions.
Why has my position on feminism and marriage equality been strengthened?
Marriage is traditionally an institution steeped in patriarchy. It is traditionally defined as being between a man and a woman, and comes with predefined gender roles and expectations. The prospect of my impending marriage means having to confront all these notions, which make me deeply uncomfortable.
Strict gender roles and expectations that come with marriage are steeped in gender essentialism, so much so to be nauseating. What is even worse is the fact that establishment-linked organisation Marriage Central promotes these gender essentialist and frankly, offensively sexist notions. (The fail-worthy nature of Marriage Central deserves a separate post of its own, dedicated to tearing down each and every terrible, close-minded construct they endorse.)
Traditional gender roles are complete and utter rubbish. All roles and responsibilities should be equal opportunity. The basis of understanding should be equality — if those in a relationship choose to have an unequal relationship (e.g. 24/7 Master/slave etc.), this would still start from a negotiation on the basis of equality. A partner should not be expected to fulfill certain roles simply because zie is of a certain gender. And now that I am outwardly going to be perceived as a “wife” simply because I am female, I revolt all the more against such outdated expressions of gender essentialism.
However, getting married is still the right choice for me and my partner. If the civil partnership option existed in this country, and conferred the exact same rights as marriage, we would of course opt for civil partnership. But this is simply not the case. Some have chosen not to get married until everyone can get married, but my partner and I have not chosen this route (personally, we doubt its efficacy, though of course we do not pass judgement on those who adhere to it).
In a similar vein, the prospect of my impending marriage has made me an even stronger supporter of marriage equality. It is completely and utterly senseless that anyone would deny anyone the right of making that same level of commitment to a person (or people) that they love. It is illogical and smacks of supremacism. There is a profound sense of injustice, and it makes me so very angry.
Now, I have identified as mostly straight for a long time running. Being in this loving, stable and secure relationship with my partner has given me space to think more deeply about my sexuality. I have come to accept that I am bisexual/pansexual. This does not mean that the relationship with my partner is doomed. We have agreed upon a monogamous relationship; sexual orientation is not the same as relationship orientation.
Of course, this new-ish discovery has brought a new dimension to my thinking on marriage equality. Identifying as part of the queer community has made this issue even closer to my heart. I feel fortunate and safe that my partner wholeheartedly agrees with me. We will be opening our marriage ceremony with a reading on marriage equality and what marriage means to us. We find this extremely meaningful, and I am very glad that we have incorporated this into such an important occasion.
The prospect of being viewed as a stereotypical cis-gender, binary-confirming, heterosexual female (with all the gender essentialist tropes) has been very much increased by my impending marriage. I feel a greater need than ever before to speak out and rebel against these harmful notions steeped in supremacism and deep-seated inequality. I am only one drop in the ocean, but it does not follow that I am incapable of making a difference.