On Friday, Simon and I re-wrote history. We walked into the Wandsworth Registrar’s Office and walked out as a couple who had been married since December 2006.
In December 2006, after about 6 years of being a couple, we entered into a Civil Partnership. Civil Partnerships had been available in the UK for less than a year, and I was immigrating to the UK on the basis of forming a Civil Partnership. Fast forward 8 years and a week, and the UK had finally figured out how to allow those of us who had entered a Civil Partnership to convert to a Marriage. Same gendered Marriages had been available since March, but bureaucracy being bureaucracy, it appears they forgot about those of us in Civil Partnerships.
We took the opportunity to convert, because while it only makes a minor difference in the UK (addresses an issue around pensions), it does two things for us. One is very tangible, in that the US only recognises marriages at the Federal level and doesn’t regard our Civil Partnership as anything. The other is less tangible, in that it rights something we have felt is wrong. We have lived as a married couple, in our hearts, for almost 15 years. That is a long time, but Friday was the first time I had a spouse. It was nice having a partner in 2006, and a huge relief to be in a legally sound situation as a couple in the UK. But, nothing can replace the feeling of legitimacy and validation being like “everyone else” affords.
Those of the moral right complain that such things dilute the institution of marriage. I think the way Simon and I have led our lives, being a loving supporting couple, is huge validation that marriage has a place in society and that it isn’t just about procreation. I personally didn’t think I would feel as strongly about a simple change from “Civil Partnership” to “Marriage”, but having done it, it feels great.
The best thing so far is I told people at work today that I needed to go home, because I was cooking my husband dinner.