Robin’s excellent guest blog yesterday created an interesting coincidence, time-wise. Today I have a short story out under the other name, very much about gender identity and the rules surrounding it. There’s a lot of personal story tied up in this as well as the gender politics, so I think it makes sense to begin at the beginning.
I fell in love with an American. I’m English. Now, if you happen to have a ton of money, then I get the impression moving to a different country is not so very difficult. Border control agencies are very happy to welcome your wealth into their nation. For ordinary people who fall in love, all you can do is move to marry. If you can’t afford to be running back and forth between countries to date each other, this means either you don’t do it, or you take the plunge. I took the plunge, and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. But, the rules about who can move where make life very difficult if you and your soul mate did not arrange to be born into the same area of legal jurisdiction.
Most countries can cope with the idea of international heterosexual couples. I didn’t get very far into the process of paperwork with Tom before it dawned on me that a gay couple would have a very hard time of it. The UK has something akin to gay marriage, but plenty of countries don’t recognise it at all. What happens if the person you fall in love with is not of the opposite sex, and neither of you were forward sighted enough to be born in a country that accepts gay marriage? What then?
People should be free to love each other. The only rules we have should be the ones we agree between ourselves, aside from laws that people all hold in common, whether they happen to be sharing a bed or not. I also feel very strongly that there should be no laws about general human conduct that do not reach into the bedroom. It ought to be even handed.
Relationship is central to druidry. We understand ourselves as being in relationship with all things. There are justifications for protective laws around relationship – avoiding power imbalances and vulnerable people being taken advantage of against their will. However, when it comes to consenting adults, there should be no legal barriers to love. Nor should we prioritise one kind of relationship over another. It bugs me that there’s also this huge emphasis on marriage as sexual relationship, and that being the only kind of partnership recognised under law. Why can’t people enter true civil partnerships, as people who wish to live together and take responsibility for each other, but are not identifying as a sexual couple? Why not make that available to anyone who wants, or needs it, as a strong foundation for dedicated relationships of all shapes, that gives easy legal cover to the parties involved?
Relationship is so much more than sexual coupling. We have such narrow definitions about how people are supposed to love each other and interact with each other. They aren’t rules, just habits of thinking, and if we discarded them and started over, with relationship as the core concept, not sex, I think we could do amazing things. I’d bet people would still have sex with each other too.
If anyone is curious about the fiction title, It’s part one of a three part series, the first being He comes and goes – http://www.loveyoudivine.com/index.php?main_page=document_product_info&cPath=26&products_id=879
November 4th, 2011 at 5:24 pm
There has to be some sort of control over immigration…..we have too many people in this country who shouldn’t be here, some of whom have got in on the pretext of marrying, but have no intention of staying in that relationship for the long term.
November 5th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
Yet all you need to get into the UK as a ‘student’ is some proof that your going to a college, which compared to the moving to marry hoops, is so easy as to be laughable.
What troubles me most is the huge restrictions on who is able to change country for love, who is allowed to love whom…
November 5th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
Well, Bryn, I have a couple of friends that have lived together and supported each other for years, but aren’t interested in each other sexually. Even in free-thinking and gay-marriage-equality Canada, these people have no protection for each other in any legal sense. If one gets sick, or hurt, there are no rights protecting their partner and their rights to be together, to share their worldly earnings, nothing. And that makes no sense to me. How many married couples do you know for whom sex is really no longer much of an issue? Why doesn’t their status change? There are laws in this world that make no sense to me…
November 5th, 2011 at 5:28 pm
There are many people who believe that ‘common law’ partners in this country have the same rights as a married couple, especially when their relationship has been long term…this is not true and I do know this for fact. All too often a woman will be told, wrongly, by well meaning folk, that she would be treated the same as a wife if the relationship were to end, or that any pensions would be automatically left to her (for example)…none of this true…not even if there were children between the couple!
Sorry I seem to have gone off on a tangent here :-).
Going back to Nimue;s original comment about the restrictions placed on migrating for love. I guess it will always be something very hard to prove, that the relationship is genuine and not fraudulent…there are a lot of people out there who would easily fabricate a loving relationship to move into our country. A student, on the other hand has probably only to prove placement, type of course, sponsorship maybe ( not up to scratch on the details). I.m not saying I support this system at all especially with the Uni system as it is at the moment.
November 6th, 2011 at 12:32 pm
I went the other way, and am now a US Citizen, having married an American.
It isn’t an easy process, nor is it quick, nor is it cheap.
I was already here on an Hi Visa, working as a butler, when I got married. WE applied for a Green Card (which is actually pink) and got a work permit and permission to stay for the year it took for the Green Card to arrive. After a fairly searching interview, I get a Green Card, and then had to wait 3 years before I could apply for naturalization.
So, I now have two valid passports. This means I get the short lines on each end of my flights to and from the UK!
However, things are very different here for gay couples. Whilst there are now 6 states where there is marriage equality, those marriages are not recognized by the Federal Government. DOMA – the Defense Of Marriage Act – applies. The President has instructed that DOMA should not be defended in the courts, and it is under attack by several law suits. However, it all takes time, and no doubt this will eventually come before the Supreme Court.
The danger is that if the Republicans gain even more power, they’re controlled by the Christian Right, who seem determined that we all follow the rules of their imaginary friend. I find it interesting that they espouse so called “Family Values” whilst worshiping a god who, according to their own story book, fathered a son by another man’s wife, and then made that son into a human sacrifice.
Sadly, I think it will be a while before there will be true marriage equality in the USA.