commitment ceremony vs. gay marriage
May 10, 2010 1:33 PM   Subscribe

do canadian gays get commitment-ceremonied to each other anymore?

with gay marriage on the table, i'm just wondering if people know of any queer couples in canada who've actively chosen commitment ceremonies *over* gay marriage? really interested in the "why" of this decision, too, if you happen to know it :) thanks!
posted by crawfo to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
ps -- or even aside from commitment ceremonies -- just celebrations of love, what form that might have taken, etc. just any and all queer "alternatives" to marriage! thank you in advance :)
posted by crawfo at 1:34 PM on May 10, 2010

not gay, but i've known many heterosexual couples in the US (where marriage for them is, of course, legal) who go for handfasting instead of a marriage.
posted by nadawi at 1:44 PM on May 10, 2010

wow! thanks nadawi, i've never heard of that before. totally the sort of thing i was hoping for! :)
posted by crawfo at 1:53 PM on May 10, 2010

I know a lesbian couple who are both very political. They did the commitment ceremony before same-sex marriage was legal. When the new rules came into effect, I asked if they were considering marriage. Their answer: "A patriarchal institution that fails 50% of the time? Yeah, right."

A gay couple who have been together for over 30 years told me they won't get married either because they feel it would send a signal that their relationship for the previous 30 years was somehow less committed than a legal marriage and that was patently not the case. They also told me that they both work in an industry/province where their status as common-law spouses has been recognized for decades and so there was no need to consider marriage for insurance benefits, etc. because those things were all present and had been for years.

Another gay couple I know who have been together for 28 years were originally not going to get married (for reasons very similar to the above couple) but surprised us all when they did on their 25th anniversary. Part of their decision was the fear that the right to marry would be removed in the not-too-distant future and they hoped that if the same-sex married community were large enough, the sheer numbers alone would protect that right.
posted by angiep at 2:00 PM on May 10, 2010

In contrast to angiep I know maybe a half-dozen couples who've been together for a while (less than 10, some less than 5, people generally mid-to-late 20's) who are either engaged or clearly going to be - none of them have thought about alternative commitment ceremonies, as far as I know.

I think that holds well with angiep's second couple mentioned - in my friends' situation, there's no signal that their previous relationship was less committed to worry about. It was less committed, but only in the sense that a (relatively) short-term couple is less committed, not because they had no other option.

That's what I figure will hold for the future. Some couples, homo&hetero will do things like nadawi mentioned, because they have issues with marriage as an institution or for other reasons, all valid. Most will get married.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:18 PM on May 10, 2010

Quebec still has civil unions available, to both straight and gay couples. As little as marriage is practiced, civil unions are even less so. I don't know breakdowns or numbers though that would be interesting to look up.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:33 PM on May 10, 2010

We (a lesbian couple) have done both. We got married in San Francisco in 2004 as a kind of act of civil disobedience. Then that one got annulled. We went to Vancouver BC in 2005 and got married there. Then we had a big commitment ceremony and invited friends, family, hired a caterer, etc. Then we got married again in San Francisco, when it was again (briefly) legal. That one, and the Canadian one, still count.
posted by rtha at 3:14 PM on May 10, 2010

It's not a real life example, but you might be interested in reading Michael Warner's The Trouble With Normal, which makes a strong political argument for why a couple might choose not to get married. Its argument is presented in a way that's a bit US-centric, but I think his point about marriage as a normalizing force transcends the border.
posted by dizziest at 5:45 PM on May 10, 2010

thanks everyone, this is really awesome. and dizziest -- i am so into michael warner, esp that book! thanks for suggesting it :)
posted by crawfo at 7:32 PM on May 10, 2010

I do know of a gay couple in Canada who've had a commitment ceremony because their faith doesn't recognize gay marriage. It was still the Best. Wedding. Evar. though, even if it wasn't a wedding.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:30 AM on May 11, 2010

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