‘Same-sex marriage’ vs ‘marriage equality’ and polyamory

Okay, confusing title, I know. But I’ll do my best to untangle it.

Mariage equality is a burning topic of debate right now, and one of the little things I’ve noticed in these discussions is the use of the term ‘same-sex marriage’ or ‘gay marriage’ vs ‘mariage equality’. Many people insist that mariage equality is the more politically correct term.

Well, you might see where I’m going with this blog entry.

The thing is, ‘mariage equality’ implies… well, equality. In general. Not specifically for same-sex couples. But, that’s kind of what people mean when they say marriage equality. They mean to say they support/condone same-sex marriage without regard for other types of relationships and their legal status. So why do people want the term ‘marriage equality’ to be used?

From what I’ve gathered, it seems that the main two reason are ‘same-sex marriage’ excludes trans and non-binary people, and the other being that it alienates gay people, making their marriage seem different from ‘normal’ marriage. Sure. Those seem like good reasons to use a different term. But then there’s the kicker. The alternative term, ‘marriage equality’ implies that once gays can marry, marriage rights will be equal across the board. And you can bet your ass I don’t agree with that sentiment.

So it seems that no matter which label you use, you are going to be incorrect- either alienating gay people, excluding trans people, or excluding poly people. For a while I was divided on this issue in my own mind. And then I read an article that made me see things another way.

Murray Lipp’s (2 year old) article explores the uses of both terms, and in it I found an interesting excerpt:

Marriage equality,” […] refers to the equal allocation of rights and benefits to all married couples, regardless of whether those couples are opposite-sex or same-sex. It does not describe a type of marriage.1

That’s when I found a happy medium in my own mind. We don’t need to change the term
‘marriage equality’ to be inclusive of polyamourous relationships. We just need to change its context. Marriage equality is a term that can be used for both same-sex couples and polyamorous families… and it doesn’t have to mean both at the same time. The US recently achieved marriage equality for same-sex couples, but that doesn’t have to imply they achieved marriage equality all-round.

At the end of the day, as long as any consenting adult can be in the relationship they chose without fear, the jargon doesn’t matter so much. It’s just always good to think about this stuff.
‘Till next time!

-Emma