It started with the best of intentions. Facebook had rolled out yet another new layout. I decided to make the switch, since everyone has to eventually. I opted to update some of my information. As I scrolled over my personal information, I saw that I had every member of my immediate family listed, except Brian. Brian is my life partner, baby daddy, and best friend, so it stood to reason that I should include him with the rest of my family, right? However, the only way to list a relationship like the one Brian and I share is to use the drop-down menu, select where your particular partnership best fits according to Facebook’s nine options, send it to your significant other to confirm or disconfirm, and voilà, you have made it true. Here are the nine options (in order):
- In a Relationship
- It’s Complicated
- In an Open Relationship
So, as I quickly glanced over these choices (as Scarlett had started screaming), I thought to myself, “Well, even though the U.S. government considers me single for tax purposes, I’m really not single, and yes, we are in a relationship, but that seems too much like we’re just dating, and technically, we are engaged, but that doesn’t seem right either, since really, it’s like we’re married, and to say it’s complicated is just wrong, so yes, married. Married is the right word. I am married. We live together and have for many years, we have a legal domestic partnership affidavit, we have shared banking, and, oh, we have a child together. Yes, we’re married.” (Click.)
Now, if I had thought about the ramifications of clicking on “Married” for more than the split second that it took me to have that conversation with myself, I never would have picked it. (I probably would have gone with “In a Relationship” or maybe even “Engaged.”) It simply did not occur to me in that moment that the rest of the world does not see my relationship the same way I see it. I see myself as married; most everyone else in the world does not. Of course, I understand how it looked to all of our family and friends: They thought we eloped. And to all of you, I apologize. I should have taken the post down much, much sooner.
However, I do consider myself a married woman. I tell people I meet that I am married because it is the label that most closely describes Brian’s and my relationship. For a while, I didn’t know how to introduce Brian. I would say, “This is my partner and Scarlett’s dad,” and people simply could not wrap their minds around this. One person asked, “So are you living together? Are you dating? Are you getting back together? … So when are you getting married?”
I meant it when I said that in my mind and heart, I am married. When I say that I don’t need a piece of paper to be married, I mean it. I really, truly don’t. I am committed. I understand that in the eyes of the law, Brian and I have no relationship. We both check the “Single” box on tax forms. Neither of us has any legal rights should something happen to one of us. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for committed gay and lesbian couples who don’t even have the option to marry in most parts of this country. And although I have been given the right to marry by the good ol’ US of A because I am in a heterosexual relationship and simply have not exercised this right, I have been excluded from certain things because I’m not legally married to Brian and have been discriminated against. Perhaps it is only a rumor, but I heard that someone chose not to come to my baby shower because I am not legally married.
I am saddened that two people can be committed to each other and somehow it doesn’t count. I am sad that some people think that we are not fully committed to each other because we don’t have a piece of paper saying so. I am sad that I really do need a piece of paper to be married. I was sad to hear my family say, “Oh, for a second we were so happy.” I was sad that so many of our friends sent warm, kind, wonderful words of love and blessings, and I had to say, “I’m sorry. It’s not what you think,” because I was capricious in selecting a relationship label in a drop-down menu. Seeing what our friends and family wrote to us was, in a word, heartbreaking. You were so genuinely happy for us.
I thank you, again, and I apologize, again. You are so supportive and so loving that it pains me to say, “No, it’s not what you think.” We will let you know definitively and certainly should we enter into a legal contract of marriage. Please know that my fake Facebook marriage started with the best of intentions: to share publicly my love for and commitment to Brian. Isn’t that what marriage is all about?