Civil Partnerships: This wasn’t meant to happen to me!

Today is a very good day indeed. Civil Partnerships have begun to kick in in a big way, with publicity and outrage and, finally, legal recognition for same sex couples. I love it!

Of course, the last few months have been a bit of a nightmare in their way. After years of saying how much I want the right to have my relationship legally recognised, I’m finally faced with the reality of having to actually commit. On the one hand, this is just absurd and I should quit complaining. In fact, I’m not complaining – this is a great dilemma to have. But on the other hand, there’s a mental readjustment that I’m having to make that is taking a while.

For years it wasn’t possible for me to marry, so I never had it in my idea of my future. As a kid, I didn’t dream of marriage – I always kinda knew it wasn’t for me. And as I came to recognise my sexuality I also came to understand that there were things that wouldn’t happen to me and my self image and expectations for the future grew from that. This meant no marriage (not legally possible), no kids (not physically possible), no sudden conversion to Catholicism (why would I convert to a religion that doesn’t want me to love people?), and no living in small, isolated communities full of bigots (why would I live with people who don’t want me to love people?).

Of course, I always knew there were ways around these self-imposed restrictions. I could have some sort of commitment ceremony, but frankly I found the idea naff and pointless and slightly insulting. I could write a will for some of the legal issues (which I did), and just try not to be too resentfully about the rest (which I didn’t). And yes, I could have kids if I really really wanted to. And yes, I could find a welcoming church if I really wanted to. And yes, I could live in a small, isolated, bigoted village if I was prepared to fight to make it work. It’s just that these sorts of battles didn’t seem worth it to fit into my idea of my future. But now one of those things has changed – I can get ‘married’. But first I need to start to decide I want to and let the concept become part of how I can think of my future.

The thing that makes this less scary is the wording. It’s not marriage, it’s civil partnership. I don’t have to confront the religion thing, and the traditions of marriage don’t apply. I don’t have to walk up an aisle (that was NEVER going to happen), I don’t have to have a John Lewis wedding list (I dislike wedding lists from couples who already live together), and I don’t have to wear a ring. In fact, I don’t have to have a wedding. We just need to give notice of our intention, sign a bit of paper in front of two witnesses, and get on with our lives. Result! Except, who would the witnesses be? And what would the family expectations be? And if we don’t have an aisle, a wedding list and the rings, will our families decide to ignore it all? But these are all details, easy enough to resolve, and terribly like the details my married and straight friends have dealt with for years.

This wasn’t meant to happen to me, but I’m really pleased it has.