September 12, 2006

Jolie Way to Wed

by PG

Dear Ms. Angelina Jolie,

I assume that when your partner states, "Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able, he refers to marriages unrestricted by the genders of the parties, and not to marriages unrestricted by age, familial relationship, species, etc. With that in mind, may I recommend that you get married in Massachusetts?

If your Boston wedding brings as large an entourage of press and gawkers as your Namibia labor did, it may encourage other states that hope to boost their tourism industries to follow suit. This seems more likely to be an engine for change than the prospect of another celebrity couple with money and lawyers sufficient not to need governmental approval of their union. (I'm guessing that you could take off more than the 12 weeks required by the Family Medical Leave Act to spend time with your infant, without being worried that you'd lose your job and thereby your individual health insurance, and not have a spouse's coverage to rely upon.)

However, if you want to be treated by the law exactly as a same-sex couple would be, there are a couple of kinks to note:

A 1913 Massachusetts law, which refuses marriage to a non-resident couple if the marriage would not be recognized in their home state, is being enforced in an interesting fashion that puts legal realism on display. Gov. Mitt Romney has required town clerks to follow it, but only by their own level of preference in determining the truth of a couple's claim. Clerks are entitled to ask for proof of residency as long as they demand it of all couples regardless of the gender pairing. Realistically, out-of-state same-sex couples can get married in some parts of Massachusetts but not others, and since the idea here is to highlight inequality, trading on your heterosexual privilege by getting a license from a clerk who might not issue one to a pair of lesbians won't work.

So you and Mr. Pitt must find a time to settle down in Massachusetts, whether during a movie shoot or just between tours of developing nations. (I don't know of any place outside the "West" of the Northern Hemisphere that currently allows same-sex marriage, though if you wait until December, you can get hitched in South Africa.) The residency requirements are not onerous -- you don't even have to buy property. Simply lease a residence and have the utilities put into your name, present a copy of the lease and the bills to the clerk, and your residency is established. Admittedly this trades on another type of privilege, that of geographic mobility and economics. However, since homosexuals are supposed to be disproportionately privileged in these areas*, you needn't feel guilty about it.

After that, easy sailing. Blood tests no longer are required, and even if you and Mr. Pitt turn out to be cousins, your union would be permitted in Massachusetts. File your application, pay the fee, wait three days, go back for the license, and then get married in the 60 days for which it's valid. For good measure, I'd recommend picking an area of the state that was polling as less friendly to same-sex marriage -- Middleborough's likely to be a nicer place for a wedding than Boston would be.


PS: I'm fairly sure that my parents won't accept Mr. Pitt's excuse for long-term shacking up and child rearing sans mariage, so perhaps I could stave them off by insisting that I'd at least have to wed in a place that recognizes the unions of my queer brethren and sistren. More money into the Massachusetts economy thanks to Goodridge, even if her marriage doesn't last.

* I suspect selection bias. People who are able to move to more tolerant parts of the country and who are more educated -- which tends to equal higher income -- probably are more likely to recognize and admit themselves as something other than straight.

September 12, 2006 10:32 PM | TrackBack
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