This week I watched as my Facebook feed filled up with rainbow-tinted profile pictures, and the bars and pubs of Soho waved rainbow bunting and flags. Everyone was celebrating the US finally deciding that equal marriage was a good thing, and marching in Pride, and everything was happily brightly coloured and it was ace.
I think marriage is ace actually. I’ve been married for almost 10 years now and I still think it’s a fabulous thing (and hopefully my husband agrees). I’m very pleased that everyone in the UK, Eire and now the US (come on, Australia – what’s keeping you?) can tie the knot if they fancy it.
And here’s the thing about traditional, male/female marriage. It kind of sucks. It’s rooted in some fairly deep-seated misogyny that treats a woman as a possession to be given from her father to her husband.
My husband and I got hitched in 2005, the same year the first civil partnerships took place. We had a pretty traditional wedding (including the ancient Scottish tradition of everyone getting absolutely hammered). My dad gave me away. I wore a white dress. I changed my name. It’s just what people did, way, way back in the mid-noughties. I didn’t question those traditions. I didn’t mind them being part of the wedding or our marriage. We had a lovely, lovely wedding day and I’d never say that I regret any of it. But I wonder if we were getting married today, we would do some things differently. Because now same-sex couples have got involved, all bets are off when it comes to getting spliced. Anything goes.
Don’t want one of you treated like a belonging, but still want your parents involved in the day? Have both of you walked down the aisle by one or both or as many parents as you like. The gorgeous Emmerdale star Michelle Hardwick and her wife Rosie Nicholl both entered their wedding ceremony on the arms of their dads.
Don’t fancy taking your husband’s surname? No problem. Or how about sticking them together US-style (Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis) or taking just the bits you like best as Dawn O’Porter did.
Want to walk down the aisle together? Or not at all? That’s just fine. Who’s wearing the virginal white frock? One of you? Both of you? Neither? That’s okay too.
Sandi Toksvig, who recently launched the Women’s Equality Party defended the name of her new political movement by saying that when women become equal, men benefit too. And similarly, I think when it comes to equal marriage, we all benefit. It’s as though the old kind of marriage, built on valuing men over women, is emerging from a chrysalis and turning into a beautiful, rainbow-coloured butterfly. It no longer treats one spouse as less than the other. Instead it values everyone whether they’re male, female, gay, straight, whatever.
One of the many, many ridiculous arguments I’ve heard about equal marriage is that it weakens traditional male/female marriage. I think it’s actually the opposite. I think by allowing everyone to marry whoever they love, marriage just gets stronger. And that’s amazing.