A few years ago gay marriage was legalized in Sweden. While Sweden has always had a reputation for being relatively friendly towards homosexuality, for a long time the policy had been separate but equal – gay partnership and straight marriage. That was changed in 2009 when the partnership law was removed and gay marriage was recognized as equal to straight marriage.
In the US this is a highly controversial topic, with the Supreme Court saying they are going to rule on the issue in 2013, gay marriage is a hot topic.
Having now survived 3 years in a country with legal gay marriage, despite all of the warnings from the religious right, my marriage is still intact. However, I have a little first hand experience of some of the dangers of gay marriage.
1) It is stealthy – I have read that gay marriage is a threat to marriage everywhere. But the problem is, how do you know? Take, for example, the lesbian couple that lived upstairs from us for several years. How do I know if they are gay married, gay engaged, or just gay living in sin? Considering I spend most of my time hiding in my apartment waiting until they leave the hallway – (not because they are gay, this is standard for all neighbors, of course) – how do I get to the ‘so, is this your wife?’ stage of Getting to Know You? Do I steal their mail and pretend it got delivered to my place by accident? How do I know if their marriage is a threat to mine? Gay marriage is incredibly sneaky!
2) Harder to book a summer wedding – There are already very few pleasant weekends in Sweden where you can chance to get married (We have had the best luck weatherwise with the weekend after midsummer) – now you need to worry about even MORE couples trying to book those few Justice of the Peaces or Ministers who don’t go away on summer holiday. And then the few locations available as well. This is a real threat to straight marriages everywhere. Forget Pentecostal weekend – you will be lucky if you can get a date in mid-September!
3) Tax and insurance benefits – Oh wait. In Sweden there aren’t many tax and insurance benefits. You cannot file joint taxes and you don’t need to get married just for the insurance. The number one benefit for a couple to get married is the natural inheritance rights. This is positive for the gay married couple, but does not seem to have any consequence on my rights.
In the end I guess I have learned that civil rights are not the same as balancing a mathematical equation. If I add a right to one side, I do not need to subtract a right from the other side. Surprisingly, both groups can enjoy the same equal rights without having to give up anything. Oh, and the best part? You can still marry the person you want, no matter what your sexual orientation.