I’ve had a gay marriage, according to some…

This originally appeared in BCN issue 104.

Whenever I rant about bisexual erasure, the first thing I hear is “When we say ‘Gay’, of course we mean to include bisexuals. Stop being silly.”

This often comes up. It doesn’t matter if we bisexuals don’t include ourselves in the blanket term, other people do and we should be grateful they do without continually moaning that our special word isn’t in the title, or acronym, or mission statement.
But the idea that “gay” means “LGBT” is fundamentally flawed. Here’s just one reason why

“We seek to secure marriage for gay people as a civil vehicle on the same basis as heterosexual marriage, available in a registry office but without a mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it.”

(“Lesbian and Gay Charity” Stonewall there, according to the Pink Paper. Oddly Stonewall never seems to ask the LGBT press to remember they’re an LGB charity)

You know what? You can’t have it both ways. And perhaps that’s an odd thing to hear coming from a bisexual activist, but there it is. I recently got married. At no point in the process did anyone ask me, or my wife-to-be, what our sexualities were. I’m gay, if gay means LGBT – and now married.

Saying “gay marriage” when you mean “same sex marriage” is insulting to people’s intelligence. What, they won’t understand “same sex”? It’s also ridiculously inaccurate.

Gay people have been getting married for centuries. And no, I don’t just mean bi and trans people. Being married doesn’t stop someone being gay, being gay doesn’t stop someone getting married. The two aren’t somehow somehow magically mutually exclusive.

And there’s no lying involved. If a gay man and a lesbian who are old friends decided to get married to shut both their families up then no-one would notice. The registrar doesn’t ask “and are you two heterosexuals? And do you love each other, you know, physically?”

I am in favour of marriage equality. I think that same sex couples should be allowed to marry, and that opposite sex couples should be allowed to have civil partnerships.

But calling it “gay marriage” and “straight civil partnership” isn’t just bisexual erasure, it makes people look foolish.
How foolish? Recently at a conference I heard someone say the law should be changed to allow LGBT marriage, specifically because “currently gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people can’t legally marry”.

The amount of unwitting ignorance that showed left me speechless. Not just because bisexuals are perfectly capable of being in opposite sex relationships (which, even if it’s two bisexuals of differing sex can sometimes still get called “straight relationships” – insulting and even more confusing, as that’d be ‘gay’ people in a ‘straight’ relationship)

But also because it shows no awareness of how the current legal situation without marriage equality is horrifically cruel to trans people. The Gender Recognition Act doesn’t allow married people to get a Gender Reassignment Certificate. Instead they are permitted an “interim” certificate provided they annul their marriage. And because a civil partnership is not permitted for an opposite sex couple, the reverse can happen too. This is simply because otherwise there’d be two people of the same sex married, or of the opposite sex civil-partnered.

We don’t need “gay marriage”, or “straight civil partnerships”. We need marriage equality across all genders.

Marcus