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Comment: No, I will not stop using the term ‘gay marriage’

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  1. Dave Page 7 May 2013, 7:10pm

    Of course, this misses the point that not all same-sex marriages are between gay people.

    “Gay marriage” has popular traction. So does erasure of bisexual and related identities. “Gay marriage” reinforces that erasure. If two bisexual people of the same gender get married, is it a “gay marriage” or a same-sex marriage?

    My dislike of the term “gay marriage” has nothing to do with dislike of homosexuality as the author seems to imply here, and everything to do with my desire to extend rights to couples regardless of sexuality, not just the ones who fit into the biggest non-straight niche.

    1. Agreed. The term “gay marriage” or “same sex marriage” is exclusive of transgender relationships. Indeed, it forces transgender recognition to take a step backward.

      1. Your are almost right, but the awful same-sex marriage bill at Westminster excludes people like me – who changed sex decades ago but are excluded from legal recognition because the Gender Recognition Acts is so lousy and discriminatory – anyway, so its more that it fails to help with that step which has not been taken yet. And which I fear will now never be taken in England and Wales.

        Most of the equal marriage laws elsewhere, in combination with their laws on changing legal gender are much better, although few are totally equal. The Westminster bill’s obsession with the partners’ gender, and likely use of separate registers, doesn’t match up to those where references in existing marriage law to the sex or gender of partners are simply removed.

    2. I absolutely agree with this – excellent points and articulation.

  2. Jennie Kermode 7 May 2013, 7:11pm

    That hair colour analogy really doesn’t work. If we refer to, say, black, brown or blonde hair, no-one is likely to forget that some people have red or grey hair. People are, however, very good at overlooking the fact that bisexual, trans, intersex and queer people exist – in fact, a fair number of people don’t believe it in the first place.

  3. Thanks for this great big slab of bisexual erasure, pinknews.

    1. Randall (AlterPride Project) 9 May 2013, 4:31pm

      Indeed, and don’t forget asexual erasure (I know aces usually don’t like to be included in these political battles, but their rights certainly apply nonetheless. Marriage is not always about sex, as society seems to think.)

  4. Karen Taylor 7 May 2013, 7:31pm

    I’m not sure being an admin of a FB page grants the author any particular expertise. I don’t have any expertise either, but in my opinion he’s wrong. The term “gay marriage” has a high recognition value, but not in a good sense. This is not a case of any publicity is good publicity, upsetting the majority by using an negatively-loaded term is counter productive. Happily I’d never heard of this webpage before, and I’ll happily ignore it from now on also.

    1. Marco Luxe 8 May 2013, 4:34am

      Bravo, Karen. Perfect.
      I reject the author’s premise that: the adjective “gay” adds further descriptive value which may have significant communicative utility depending on the context.

      Any possible communicative utility is limited to promoting bigotry. No one ever says ‘He’s gay married to Bob’ as strictly descriptive. The utility is in the veiled hate.

      1. In saying that you are basically buying into the idea that the label ‘gay’ is inherently bad. And it isn’t. If someone tells me they are going to a wedding – and they don’t immediately specify the parties involved – I would not be sure if they are talking about an opposite-sex or same-sex wedding. If they say they are going to a gay wedding, I am going to be pretty sure they are talking about a wedding involving a same-sex couple. So in that sense the adjective ‘gay’ does add communicate value.

        1. But a wedding is a wedding. Would you say “I’m going to a mixed-race wedding?” Sure, it gives you more “information” but look what information it’s giving – that you somehow find the mixed-race bit somehow worth pointing out……

        2. Jock S. Trap 8 May 2013, 12:05pm

          Marriage in the Western World already has one universal label…. “Love”… It doesn’t need another.

          Just as we are fed up with bigoted people separating love between same-sex and opposite-sex couple why should we accept it for marriage?

        3. Randall (AlterPride Project) 10 May 2013, 8:10am

          Why does it matter? Do you only attend weddings of gay people? It sounds like you’re just digging up excuses to maintain your prejudice. Sometimes gay people can be more bigoted and stubborn than straight people. So yes, the label “gay” does have some inherent negativity associated with it in the LGBT community. As a bisexual and transgender person, I can say that the constant erasure and oppression and second-class status is really grating after awhile.

    2. Well, I am the author so I can respond to this. I don’t think I insinuated or implied or tried to establish that I am an expert on the issue. I simply described my personal experience in debating the topic with others. Do you live in the UK or the USA? I think there are some key cultural differences which are reflected in some of the comments. “Gay marriage” is definitely widely used in the USA and I highly doubt that a ‘majority’ of LGBT people in the USA are offended by the use of “gay marriage” as an umbrellla name for same-sex marriage.

      1. Being widely used, which it is in both the UK and the US is not a semantic justification.

      2. The whole point of wanting marriage is for equality and not separation. Continually prefixing marriage with “gay” is to infer that our marriage is a different kind of marriage. At best it’s a moot point, at worst it’s extremely unhelpful.

      3. Jock S. Trap 8 May 2013, 12:09pm

        Prehaps here in the UK we’re just more intelligent, civilised and accepting than you in the US!?!

      4. Randall (AlterPride Project) 9 May 2013, 4:59pm

        What you are saying is to maintain the status quo in the face of ignorance? Then I guess only opposite-sex couples should be allowed to wed. Perhaps most people don’t object to the term “gay marriage” because they don’t even understand why it is problematic. You place so much emphasis on your quest for “gay rights” that you have become as bigoted and intolerant as the people who claim to be your adversaries.

        What has happened to the LGBTQ movement? And why should one Facebook page be the spokesperson for an entire movement? Maybe you should step down from your pedestal and start actually making a difference for the betterment of your country, instead of promoting these absurd biases.

  5. Mat Price 7 May 2013, 7:33pm

    I’d like to mirror what has been said before- what about bisexual, trans, intersex and queer people?

    I know language is limiting and everyone has the right to define their own use of it but ‘LGBT’ is not interchangeable with ‘gay’…

    I think this guy just can’t be bothered to change his facebook page… hehe- also feel his fighting spirit is better placed elsewhere….

    1. Randall Krause 8 May 2013, 2:41am

      This is why I started the campaign Diversity Counts, because not all LGBT people are gay. Please join my cause and let’s bring visibility to other sexual minorities.

  6. Eric Wolff-Sewell (20% married so far, can we make it higher this week?) 7 May 2013, 7:40pm

    Marriage Discrimination.
    That’s the terminology I use for it. All the others phraseology can more easily leave room for opponents to think we are asking for something extra or something special, rather than demanding the rights due to us as full first-class citizens. The word discrimination cuts quicker to the point. We are denied basic civil rights enjoyed by the mainstream majority. Think back to predecessor civil rights fights. Asking for equality versus demanding an end to discrimination, remember which tactics worked better? What got action? Not because someone was given equality because they were recognized as earning or deserving it. Telling the bigots they have to stop discriminating because it’s wrong, that’s what got traction.
    Marriage Discrimination.

    1. You make an excellent point, Eric

    2. Totally!

      And marriage equality is an expansion of marriage
      rather than a redefinition of marriage.

  7. Interesting.
    If I talk about gay marriage to my friends it is not offensive or perceived to be open to criticism in some way. However, if gay marriage is talked about with contempt or derision, or with a certain tone of voice, it is a different matter. This shows that the term is not, by dint of meaning, offensive, but only by dint of who is saying it and the manner in which they are saying it. The context also matters: talking about gay marriage in contexts where precision is required, or in the contexts of certain discussions may not be a good idea. A general policy of avoiding or using the term ‘gay marriage’ may be adopted with reason by an organisation or a newspaper, depending on their names.
    As for individual usage, I think it is a thoroughly contextual matter. I understand the objection that use of the term ‘gay marriage’ may suggest an artificial separation between same sex married couples and straight couples.

    1. Marco Luxe 8 May 2013, 4:51am

      The author argues for the use of ‘gay marriage’ as a necessary descriptive noun. But I think your friends don’t discuss the “gay marriage” of Bob, but the extent of inequality in marriage laws in relationship to your pal Bob. No one free from a discriminatory intent says something like – I hope Bob and Sam’s gay marriage will work out, or, Are you going to Bob and Sam’s gay wedding?
      The utility of “gay marriage” is inextricably tied to a discriminatory intent. Just drop it.

      1. “The utility of “gay marriage” is inextricably tied to a discriminatory intent.” Well that can’t be right. I can say that “gay marriage ought to be legal” without implying or meaning anything discriminatory. We want to legalise something that was not legalised before. What do we call it? Not “equal marriage”, since then “Equal marriage is not legal” would be a grammatically and semantically correct sentence, which it isn’t. Specifying to whom the marriage rights ought to be extended is more informative and accurate (hence “Same sex marriage” is perfectly grammatical) than using the blanket term “equal marriage”, even absent the grammatical problems discussed above. Of course, when speaking of the outcome or the goal we can use “marriage equality”, as in “marriage equality is gaining headway”.

        1. Or as in “With the publication of the Same-Sex Marriage Bill, hopes for Equal Marriage in England and Wales hit a brick wall”.

    2. Luke: I agree with these points. Out of curiosity are you in the USA or the UK or elsewhere?

      1. I’m in the UK.

    3. Paul Brownsey 8 May 2013, 11:25am

      I agree, too, Luke. As you say, “It is a thoroughly contextual matter.” I am always worried about the zealots who decide in secret committee what are the words the rest of us should use and then howl down the way we speak, howling without reference to, as you say, context. If I, living in Scotland, tell a friend down south, “Scotland may get gay marriage before England,” what’s objectionable in that? I know what I mean, she knows what I mean, it’s the shortest and most efficient way of communicating the point, and the forces of oppression–whose reality I do not deny–don’t get any sort of boost.

      1. Paul: I agree. Context is very important as is being able to communicate clearly in an efficient manner. Apparently, however, to some those are not legitimate reasons for choosing certain language.

    4. Randall (DiversityCounts Campaign) 9 May 2013, 5:05pm

      Luke, it is very much about context. A group of friends discussing the issue of “gay marriage” while playing video games in the privacy of their own home is one matter. A Facebook page with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers that is supposed to be campaigning for human rights, yet pushing a special agenda is something entirely different.

  8. I understand that use of “gay marriage” is not accurate as a description of certain couples. However, this does not mean that in many occasions it is a useful word to use, and conveys no negative message. Certainly, when I (gay) or my friends use “gay marriage” we are not implying any separation or fundamental evidence of difference between same-sex married couples and their straight counterparts.
    I would also add that the term “same-sex marriage” for me has a more clinical edge to it, in certain circumstances. Furthermore, it fails to tap into the wonderful history of resonances and political clout contained within the word “gay” due to its use by activists. So personally I prefer to use “gay marriage”, as I feel it more expressive.

  9. Corrections:
    A general policy of avoiding or using the term ‘gay marriage’ may be adopted with reason by an organisation or a newspaper, depending on their aims.
    Certainly, when I (who am gay) or my friends use “gay marriage” we are not implying any separation or fundamental difference between same-sex married couples and their straight counterparts.

    1. So what do you think it implies then?

      This is as politically brainless as all those who hailed Civil Partnerships as Gay Marriage and Gay Weddings.

  10. I have no desire for every same-sex couple to get married. What I do desire though is that the decision whether or not to get married is one of the couple self and not a decision made for them by any other person or entity. Hence I use the term ‘marriage equality’ and will continue to do so.

    And as others said, not everybody in a same-sex relationship identifies as gay and neither they nor their relationships and marriages should have to be labeled as such.

    Find the author’s views insensitive and, frankly, ignorant.

  11. Jonathan Mason 7 May 2013, 8:19pm

    I agree with the understanding that same-sex marriage is a good term to use in social context, but disagree that this is interchangeable with gay-marriage. Gay, to a lot of people still means two men, to others it is referring to people who have relationships with the same sex, though undermines bisexuality. Generally though, it lends itself to a patriarchal view which I wholehearted disagree with.

    Other than that, I like the article, though feel it should be better emphasised that this is for a social space to give information and not a fully fledged political movement. Politically (as he does mention), the term equal marriage has its plus points.

    1. That’s useful feedback. I like your point about it being a social space to give information and not being a political movement – that’s an accurate description.

  12. I like ‘marriage equality’ because it implies that same-sex marriage (including gay-gay, gay-bi, bi-bi), other-sex marrriage, cis-trans marriage, trans-trans marriage, intersex-cis marriage and all other kinds of marriage are on equal footing.

    1. “Are”? But they are not, and the Westminster Same-Sex Marriage Bill will not make them so.

      If you use “marriage equality” as an objective though, in an informed manner, understanding how far from equality we are, that’s to be applauded.

  13. Robert in S. Kensington 7 May 2013, 9:47pm

    I don’t agree with this article one bit. Gay marriage is often used by opponents of it to foment intolerance and homophobia. The very word “gay” is a dirty word to opponents so they use it to villify, denigrate and ridicule legislation to thwart its introduction into law.

    1. All sorts of words are used to denigrate, but this does not mean their use should be abandoned. Think of the word “queer” and how that has been reclaimed. The fact that the word “gay” is treated by some as negative is all the more reason to shout it from the rooftop, and whilst “gay marriage” is not the best word in all contexts (see my remarks above) it is often a perfectly good expression to use.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 8 May 2013, 12:17am

        Another word I abhor to this day. I grew up when being gay was illegal and that word was extremely painful for many of us. It was one of the worst derogatory insults to demoralise and denigrate gay people. No thank you.

        1. I am not a fan of the word “queer” but people can call themselves whatever they want. So while it may be a derogatory term for you, it may be an empowering one for someone else.

          1. So would you consider renaming your facebook page ‘Let queers marry eachother?

            Thought not.

          2. Robert in S. Kensington 8 May 2013, 1:59pm

            If you grew up when I did in pre 1967 when being gay was legalised, you might think differently about the use of the “queer” word. People could be thrown in jail for being gay, some committed suicide because of the taunts and denigration. It was used with impunity to hurt people and to humiliate them and the butt end of jokes. There’s nothing more that anti-gay opponents or homophobes love to hear and exploit than gays using derogatory terms about themselves. Some need to take more responsibility for their words and actions which often have negative consequences such as bullying in schools, a chronic problem that has even caused some to take their lives. Even black people in America don’t like the use of the ‘n’ word and I don’t think any of them would find it empowering. It’s a put-down just as queer, poofter and shirt-lifter are. No thank you, nothing empowering in any of it.

  14. Robert in S. Kensington 7 May 2013, 10:10pm

    To digress, Delaware just became the 11th American state to legalise equal marriage. Suck on that, C4M, Tory Opponents and UKIP!

    1. Actually, it’s not a digression. And it led me to browse through some of the US headlines on the topic:

      “Delaware becomes 11th state with gay marriage” (USA Today)
      “Delaware becomes 11th US state to allow gay marriage” (Chicago Tribune)
      “Delaware legalizes gay marriage” (Politico)
      “Delaware legalizes gay marriage” (Washington Post)
      “Delawarebecomes 11th state to legalize gay marriage” (MSNBC)
      “Gay marriage wins in Delaware” (The News Journal)
      “Delaware senative approves gay marriage bill” (On Top Magazine)

      Point: it’s pretty difficult to discuss this topic in the USA while avoiding all use of the phrase “gay marriage” – good luck with trying to do that to anyone who is trying.

      1. Point: The mainstream US media uses sloppy English so I can too!

        Yes, I know On Top is not mainstream.

        The New Civil Rights Movement: Breaking: Delaware Governor Has Just Signed Same-Sex Marriage Bill Into Law Breaking: Delaware Senate passes marriage equality bil

        LA Times: Delaware OKs same-sex marriage

        And from the typically twisted paper of record in the US, The New York Times: Delaware, Continuing a Trend, Becomes the 11th State to Allow Same-Sex Unions

        What do you think, Murray, the rest of us don’t know how to use the internet?

      2. Randall (AlterPride Project) 10 May 2013, 7:57am

        Thanks for the heads up. I almost forget that because mainstream media promotes prejudice that means I should too! You sure have a lot of hangups with progress. It’s a wonder you even believe in equality at all. Well clearly, it’s selfish motivation.

  15. England already has gay marriages. They’re called Civil Partnerships. They are separate and less than. I, and most gay people don’t want “gay marriages”, we want access to existing regular marriages just like mixed race couples didn’t want “mixed marriages” they just wanted access to existing, regular marriages.

    People who want “gay marriages” already have them available to them and they should avail themselves of them and be happy with it. They don’t really have a pony in the equal marriage fight so they should stop muddying the waters.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 8 May 2013, 12:19am

      And the thing is, if they are so equal to opponents, why aren’t they supporting them for heterosexuals? They should be the first to support them for those who don’t want to marry.

  16. Oh, and I might add that people knew what “colored water fountains” meant to. People who were for them knew, people who were against them knew, the news media knew but it didn’t make them right. Black people didn’t want “colored water fountains” they just wanted access to REGULAR water fountains. The same goes for gay people and marriage. We simply want access to what everyone else has, not some segregated version of the real thing. We already have access to that kind of marriage, it’s called a Civil Partnership which is the marriage version of a “colored water fountain”.

  17. Such a load of twaddle.

    When I get hitched, I will have a marriage, the same as everyone else, not a gay-marriage, not a civil partnership, nor even a same-sex marriage. A marriage, pure and simple.

    And when I go to my two friends’ wedding in Spain this month, I’m going to their marriage, not their ‘gay marriage’.

    What this self-appointed clot fails to realise, rather like the troop that brought in Civil Partnerships in in the UK, is that once you introduce ‘gay marriage’, you will realise that the label will stick in the minds of the general public and as far as they’re concerned we’ll still be at the back of the bus.

    Marriage, the same for all, irrespective of gender and orientation, is what we want: and nothing less.

    Time to think again Mr Lipp.

    1. “Marriage, the same for all, irrespective of gender and orientation, is what we want: and nothing less.”

      I don’t think anything I said is in conflict with that goal.

      “Gay marriage” terminology is in wide usage in the USA and has been for years. In a country of 300 million people, I don’t think you can easily change the dominant way of referring to a particular phenomenon.

      “Self-appointed clot” – well that just sounds like an unnecessary insult. I will let them one slide.

      1. Randall (AlterPride Project) 10 May 2013, 8:23am

        “I don’t think you can easily change the dominant way of referring to a particular phenomenon.”

        Oh? Is that what the rioters at Stonewall said? You realize the Gay Liberation Front and the numerous succeeding movements in America didn’t come about because sexual minorities were content with the status quo. Change doesn’t happen when people say “We can’t change”. I question your integrity and commitment to the cause. You are being guided only by your own prejudice.

    2. Of course. It would be strange to say “I’m getting gay married next year” as opposed to “I’m getting married.” But that does not mean that the term “gay marriage” is always infelicitous.
      As I’ve said below, it would sound semantically odd to say that “marriage equality has been legalised”, but perfectly correct to say that “same sex marriage has been legalised” or “gay marriage has been legalised. We may prefer “same sex marriage” where more accuracy is at stake, but “same sex marriage” has a more clinical sound to it for me, so I tend to use it only where the degree of precision it affords is required.

      1. Luke – I’d give up trying to express that point here. Clearly, it’s a view that some have decided doesn’t meet their standards.

  18. Nah, sorry not quite convinced. I didn’t really understand all of the attempts at psycho-analysis in this article.

    It is a term used by opponents to point out how different and scary a prospect it should be to the public.

    Equal marriage is not a difficult term for people to comprehend, quite a few newspapers and broadcasters are already beginning to use it.

    1. Some of this is cultural. Nobody uses the term “equal marriage” in the USA. “Marriage equality” is common but “gay marriage” is even more common here.

      1. Time to use your website to start changing the semantics then, rather than perpetuating them. This is what we did here.

        Language is incredibly important. You have “the freedom to marry” in the US. That’s widely understood, and deals brilliantly with the issue. If you don’t like “marriage” or “equal marriage”, use that.

        As a test, whenever you write “gay marriage” try interchanging it with “interracial marriage”. If the switch feels uncomfortable, you’ll know your terminology is wrong.

        1. I am white. My partner is black. I am perfectly okay with anyone in this world labelling our relationship an “interracial relationship.” Because it is. Factual descriptions aren’t offensive or disempowering.

          I think there is room to use “gay marriage” and “marriage equality” and “freedom to marry” and whatever other terms people want to use. Each has value and utility depending on the context and audience.

          1. Gobsmacked! Nothing more to say.

            You really don’t understand language and its power.

            Try reading a bit of Chomsky.

          2. Jock S. Trap 8 May 2013, 12:15pm

            My late partner of 20 was black but never did we have our relationship ‘labelled’ in anything but a loving one.

            Indeed ” Factual descriptions aren’t offensive or disempowering” but in a decent society they are not needed.

            All labels do is separate. You cannot separate love.

          3. Jock S. Trap 8 May 2013, 12:16pm

            Sorry meant “partner of 20 years” not in his age!!

    2. Agreed. But it would sound semantically odd to say that “equal marriage has been legalised”, but perfectly correct to say that “same sex marriage has been legalised” or “gay marriage has been legalised. We may prefer “same sex marriage” where more accuracy is at stake, but “same sex marriage” has a more clinical sound to it for me, so I tend to use it only where the degree of precision it affords is required.

  19. Malcolm McPherson 7 May 2013, 11:40pm

    There are certainly other people who are included under the term ‘marriage equality’ and not under ‘gay marriage’ or even ‘same sex marriage’. There are transmen who may wish to marry other transmen. There have been heterosexual couples where the man wishes to transition to being a woman but to change birth certificate (in places such as Australia and the UK) requires the couple divorcing before she can do so. They may wish to remain married as two women.
    Then there are intersex (and transgender) people whose sex/gender may be shown as X on birth certificates and passports. These people should be allowed to marry an M, F or another X if they wish!
    The reality is that in the mainstream media, ‘gay marriage’ is the only term that will appear.

    1. There may be people who are not included under the terms “same sex marriage”, but then I ask you, in a context such as “same sex marriage has been legalised”, what do you propose should replace “same sex marriage”? “Equal marriage has been legalised” does not make grammatical sense; in particular, it sound semantically odd (for the same reasons “Equality has been legalised” sounds strange). “Non traditional marriage” would also be an option, but would be subject to some of the criticisms discussed above. The upshot: it’s probably best to use “same sex marriage” in certain contexts, and “gay marriage” in others.

      1. Luke – don’t waste your time. They (the dominant group commenting on this article) are not interested in this point of view.

        1. Jock S. Trap 9 May 2013, 11:14am

          Er… it’s called a “comment” page for a reason….. if you can’t handle a difference of opinion why write an article.

          Clearly from that last comment, maturity is needed.

      2. Randall (DiversityCounts Campaign) 9 May 2013, 10:49pm

        You make an excellent point, and I mostly agree with you. I have taken this stance on HuffPost for many years. There is a time and place for marriage equality, but it it does not clearly signify the necessity for the rights being sought. Ideally, I would prefer “marriage without regard to gender”. But unfortunately, due to space limitations, sometimes “same-sex marriage” is the only viable alternative. A more accurate descriptor would probably be something like “agender marriage” but that is too esoteric for mainstream news.

        1. Malcolm McPherson 13 May 2013, 2:19am

          It is important, when framing legislation, that we understand clearly what ‘marriage equality’ looks like. The legislation in New Zealand clearly represents marriage equality (marriage where gender is no longer a consideration), whereas that in France is merely ‘same-sex marriage’.
          The language that will be used in the popular media will be different. It is always likely to be ‘gay marriage’ not even ‘same-sex marriage’. If we are to communicate through popular media we have no option but to use the language.

          The choice of language depends on the audience and on what we are trying to communicate.

  20. Was this stupid article just put up as a example of how not to make a point? It misses the point that same sex marriage isn’t necessarily restricted to just gay people (ever heard of “bisexual”?) Misses the point that here in the UK we already have “gay marriage” – i.e. something that’s like marriage but only for same sex couples – and what we should have is equality. It seems to me that the underlying argument here is “I’ve always called it ‘gay marriage’ so I’m going to continue calling it that for these reasons” – not least of which is that he’s got quite a bit invested in the Facebook page. Tell you what, mate – you have your special “gay” marriage, just for gays. I want equality.

    1. Actually, in the UK you have ‘civil partnerships’ – not marriage. In the USA it is actually important to distinguish between “gay marriage” and “marriage equality” for the following reason: while same-sex marriage is legal in many states, and there is “marriage equality” within those states, same-sex marriage is not recognized by the federal government. So in this sense it’s actually important to acknoweldge that “gay marriage” and “straight marriage” is being treated differently by federal govt resulting in a lack of “marriage equality.”

      1. I don’t buy it: by your choice of language to are entrenching the status quo.

        David has nailed it.

  21. If we as a community have nothing better to do than argue about what to call it, we’re screwed. It doesn’t matter. Grow up, get a grip and get on with the important debates. This is a distraction and a total waste of time…

    1. Midnighter 8 May 2013, 12:19am

      I think most people here are capable of doing more than one thing at a time, including those ‘better’ things, so you probably don’t need to worry on that account.

      If you wish to express an idea so that others can understand it, choosing your terminology is central to that communication. Far from ‘not mattering’, commonality of language and agreement about the meaning of a given word or phrase and all its connotations is absolutely essential.

      Trying to communicate with a person who uses a word or phrase to represent a completely different idea to the one you associate it is – on the contrary – a guaranteed waste of time (or the basis of a good comedy sketch).

  22. Midnighter 8 May 2013, 12:09am

    “Equal marriage” firmly places the idea that the issue is about equality and fairness, which is the principle reason I prefer the term.

    I don’t find your personal definition of Equal Marriage relevant, and it would certainly cause confusion were I to employ it in conversation in so precise a manner. By contrast, I’ve never had anyone with whom I’ve discussed the issue interrupt me to exclaim “Oh, you mean GAY marriage.”,

    You claim merit in touting the word ‘gay’ as part of the issue, and if there is any merit in evangelising a particular term, I can claim abundant success from insisting on the term “equal” and the opportunity it offers to explain that this is not about a ‘special case for gays’ at all.

    1. womandrogyne 8 May 2013, 10:42am


  23. The Stichting de Vrienden van de Gay Krant, which started campaigning way back in1985 for equal marriage in The Netherlands, published a small book about the historic campaign a few years ago. The title of the English language version, which I helped to translate from the Dutch, is: “No Gay Marriage in The Netherlands”. And since 2001, the year equal marriage was achieved for the first time anywhere in the world, the inaccurate perception of one type of marriage for man-woman couples and another for same sex couples has indeed gradually diminished.

    Make sure this happens in the countries which have yet to achieve equal marriage too! Use language carefully. Marriage is marriage, available to all couples, and there are no distinctions.

    1. It is a tragedy that the Westminster version is not to be equal marriage.

      Are your translation from Dutch skills available for other LGBT causes too?

  24. You are wrong. The phrase “gay marriage” strongly implies that both parties in the marriage are gay. That is often not the case. Bisexual folks can enter into same-sex marriages as well. As usual, you (and many others) are choosing to pretend that bisexuals simply don’t exist. I guess you hope that if you ignore us long enough, we’ll go away. Well, we aren’t going anywhere.

  25. Jasmin C.D. 8 May 2013, 2:20am

    a) If I married someone of the same sex, it wouldn’t necessarily be a gay marriage; it could be a mixed-orientation marriage.

    b) Some terms can have more than one meaning. “Marriage equality” as used in this context has nothing to do with the allocation of rights and benefits, but with all people’s, regardless of sex or gender, equal access to marriage.

    c) The fight for same-sex marriage is nice and good, but it leaves out intersex people. Their right to access marriage won’t be automatically guaranteed when same-sex partners get it. Intersex people alone currently don’t have the clout to change that themselves, therefore I am unwilling to throw one minority under the bus for the benefit of another.

    Therefore, I’m sticking with “marriage equality”.

  26. Christopher Kay 8 May 2013, 2:23am

    Your article annoyed me a lot. You kept saying that the word “gay” is an adjective, and yet you consistently use it as a compound noun.
    Maybe you ought to study a little English grammar.

  27. Randall Krause 8 May 2013, 2:28am

    Marriage is defined as a legal union of two people based upon their gender not their sexuality. Bisexual people can marry a same-sex partner, and yet they do not undergo a sexual identity transformation. They do not ‘become gay”.

    It is therefore presumptuous to assume that any partnership imparts qualities of gayness or straightness because the genders of the participants happen to be of the same-sex or the opposite-sex.

    How can we expect lawmakers to treat us equally if we do not hold ourselves to the same standard? Exploiting a prejudicial term to advance “equality” at the expense of other sexual minorities is an affront to sexual diversity. Gay rights and gay marriage are a constant reminder that bisexual people are second-class citizens in the LGBT movement.

    It is no longer acceptable to rationalize discrimination within our community for the sake of political convenience. We must remain accountable for our language if we wish to affirm our commitment to equality.

    1. Thank you! I really appreciate and agree with your post.

  28. Here in Canada, it is equal marriage, or just marriage, without qualification.

    As an intersex person assigned male at birth who has been with my cisgender male partner for over twenty years and married for almost ten of those years, I find Mr. Lipp’s remarks extremely offensive. From my point of view, they are just the arrogant opinions of yet another gay man who needs to check his privilege before he makes his argument.

  29. Common sense 8 May 2013, 5:03am

    UK civil partnerships demonstrate amply how separating the institutions even when they are legally equivalent, allows homophobes to hang their prejudices off one and not the other. Whereas the simple removal of the gender requirement in marriage opens it to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex. To call it “gay marriage” makes it seem like it is a separate institution and neatly excludes a large number of groups that will benefit from the legislation. That is why “equal marriage” is the only appropriate term to use.

    1. I sincerely hope the author reads and understands your comment
      and taking it on board manages to amend his position.

    2. Common sense 9 May 2013, 4:23am

      There is also a case to be made that the removal of gender distinctions in marriage actually removes the historical basis where a husband acquires the wife from her family- thus making heterosexual marriage itself more equal.

  30. If it’s necessary to use so many words to defend your use of the term gay marriage that I became too bored to continue reading your whole article then I think the Occam’s Razor principle might be invoked.

    I am myself quite a fan of men with red hair and Ginger hair is another of those terms that has similarly high recognition value still you didn’t use that term once in what I read of your article, nor I imagine did you in the rest of it.

    Is calling your red hair “ginger” any more or less derogatory than calling my light brown hair “mouse” how about “dirty blonde”

    1. I don’t really get your point about “ginger” hair. Why would I be emphasizing that in this article?

      1. You wrote the article?

        The article uses high recognition value as it’s main reason for using the term “gay marriage” instead of “marriage equality”.

        I’m saying if that if that is the case t would also follow that the high recognition value of the term “ginger hair” should make it a more viable option than the term “red hair” which the author prefers to use throughout.

        Th author is emphasising the term “red-hair” rather than “ginger hair” when speaking about the power of language and high recognition value in the article, it’s reasonable then that I draw attention to the inconsistency in his argument and I would’ve thought this was obvious.

  31. I’ve read all the comments. I accept the feedback.

    There are a lot of references here to the impact of “gay marriage” terminology on non-straight people who don’t identify with the “gay” label – I can see in this sense it’s a problematic label.

    I think there are definitely some cultural differences between the USA and the UK in regards to this topic. I don’t know where people are writing from but I get the sense that “gay marriage” terminology is viewed in a much negative light in the UK than in the USA. Yes, some people here in the USA object to the term but it’s still in wide usage and I would say (without doing a poll) that most people in the LGBT population here are “okay” with its frequent usage.

    I do recognize that the title and some of the points I made sounded arrogant. If I was to rewrite this article I would take out some of those elements because they are inflammatory.

    Thanks for the discussion.

    1. I think you could do a lot of good in the US by considering well the comments here and changing your language as a result.

      The term “gay marriage” is in use in the UK, but because of the persistant efforts of people like yourself here in BritIan, we have started to move the terminology in the public conscience to the more inclusive options.

      Semantics do matter – you could really make a contribution here.

      1. I understand the point. For the most part, however, the criticisms of the article (my opinions) have been expressed with an angry, attacking, insulting tone. So although I have taken note of them, the manner in which they were communicated wasn’t helpful or constructive. So while I agree that my piece was perhaps perceived as arrogant in certain respects, I don’t think the negativity of some of the responses was warranted. Reading through the comments as a whole it looks like there was a collective effort to discredit the opinions expressed in the article and to push a different, and apparently superior, point of view (that held by the collective commenting here). Okay. The ‘vote down the opinions we don’t like’ mentality seems tacky and juvenile.

        1. Randall (DiversityCounts Campaign) 9 May 2013, 5:34pm

          I personally haven’t voted down any comments (I don’t even use the voting feature). I prefer to speak when I have something to say. And my opinion is that despite the short term utility, it does not offset the long term consequences. That should be justification enough to abandon the term. It’s time to move on.

          We expect society to embrace positive change, when you yourself refuse to do so. How is that setting an example? A true leader is someone that admits they made a mistake and learns from it. They don’t make excuses. I think you would really do well to take some time to reflect on the importance of your role. You can truly make an impact, or you can ignore everyone’s advice. The choice is entirely yours.

        2. I think you might be a little paranoid to conclude that the quorum of opinion is anything other than a reflection of individual views: for my part I can assure you I am not part of a conspiracy to push a viewpoint, I simply happen to be one of many who appear to disagree with yours.

          Having said that, I do agree that passions have led some to comment in ways that really don’t help the persuasiveness of their argument. I suggest that is a reflection of the passion that your article generated, and thus it was a useful exercise for all: it has clearly been well read and got people thinking and talking.

    2. I’m American and I think you are ONCE AGAIN wrong! It was actually us Americans here at PinkNews who stirred up the hornets’ nest about the use of “gay marriage” in PinkNews articles.

      Go back and read my comments comparing “gay marriage” to “mixed race marriage” and “colored water fountains” to get a better understanding of the problem with “gay marriage” from an uniquely AMERICAN perspective. Having grown up in Mississippi in the 60’s I have a first hand understanding of ALL of these civil rights examples that I cite and why words are important in these struggles.

  32. In common parlance, for the average person in the street, gay means two people of the same gender in a relationship.

    I work for an LGBT organisation and do you know how many LGBT people don’t actually know what LGBT means? A lot.

    We also have a lot of BME people come to us who have no idea what BME means.

    These thought through, agonized over, academic terms are good in isolation. But when you are trying to run a campaign or attract stake holders to your service they can be a real handicap.

    1. Bingo. Agreed.

    2. Randall (DiversityCounts Campaign) 8 May 2013, 4:23pm

      Are you suggesting that we maintain ignorance for the sake of political convenience? That is no different than the HRC throwing transgender people under the bus in order to pass ENDA. Now we’re ignoring the bisexual population because, as you suggest, nobody knows what that is anyway? For the record, the term “sexual minority” is gaining traction. It is fully more inclusive and far less esoteric than LGBT.

      Furthermore the term in dispute is “equal marriage” not “LGBT marriage”. If people find “equality” too difficult to comprehend, then they probably shouldn’t even be deliberating issues like these.

  33. “Marriage, the same for all, irrespective of gender and orientation, is what we want: and nothing less.”

    I don’t think anything I said is in conflict with that goal.

    “Gay marriage” terminology is in wide usage in the USA and has been for years. In a country of 300 million people, I don’t think you can easily change the dominant way of referring to a particular phenomenon.

    “Self-appointed clot” – well that just sounds like an unnecessary insult. I will let them one slide.

    1. Let’s be clear, you came to this website to make a point about your use of particular language on your facebook page, from which I can only assume you’ve been met with criticism.

      Your essential argument for this use is – that’s the language I”ve always used on the site and it’s a term people understand.

      The feedback you have received is that
      – “gay marriage” is not an inclusive term
      – “gay marriage” perpetuates the sense of difference and the opportunity to discriminate.

      This is true wherever you are – US, UK, wherever.

      Language can be changed – see for example how language has changed around women, race etc – and now you have a choice to perpetuate the discrimination through your choice of language or to help bring about change.

      Over to you.

      1. Well said, Wingby.

        I think the author is also over-stating the usage in the US. Granted, the major media like The New York Times (who wouldn’t let reporters use the word gay until the 90’s) and the Associated Press (who eliminated homophobia with a simple change to their style book) use the term “gay marriage” but I don’t recall the NO on 8 campaign ever using the term. I do remember NOM using it constantly. I also remember reading that “gay marriage” polls well when trying to pass discriminatory legislation.

        The author should take a few lessons from history. There were reasons the pro-choice movement stopped calling themselves pro-abortion.

  34. The fallacy of the author’s assertion is summarised in the following statement:

    “ensuring that the rights and benefits associated with marriage apply equally to both straight married couples and gay married couples.”

    There are gay couples who are married, there are straight couples who are married, there are bi and trans couples who are married. There are even married couples who cross or ignore labels of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    What these couples have in common is that they are or wish to be married. It is simply not the case that couples are either gay married or straight married. My husband and I received the same marriage license application as the opposite-sex couple in line in front of us and the female couple behind us.

    I find this article to be a mess of sloppy English and fuzzy thinking. Should we ever meet, Murray, do NOT refer to me as gay married.

    1. Paul Brownsey 8 May 2013, 11:57am

      But he wouldn’t, he? The phrase “gay marriage” has its legitimate uses, but it would be conversationally bizarre to say, “When are you having your gay marriage?”, though it would not be conversationally bizarre to say to an out-of-touch relative, “Oh, but gay marriage is legal now.”

      1. When the time comes, I will say to my out-of-touch relative that it is now legal for same-sex couples to get married. Only a few more words but it transforms the statement from something meaningless to something factual.

  35. Bisexual people exist, along with pan-sexuals. Along with couples who were “opposite sex” and one of them transitions to living as the same sex as their partner. There are many other examples like this. Marriage equality is for all LGBTQ people – gay marriage is not. Simples.

    1. Agreed. But it would sound semantically odd to say that “marriage equality has been legalised”, but perfectly correct to say that “same sex marriage has been legalised” or “gay marriage has been legalised. We may prefer “same sex marriage” where more accuracy is at stake, but “same sex marriage” has a more clinical sound to it for me, so I tend to use it only where the degree of precision it affords is required.

  36. Jock S. Trap 8 May 2013, 10:46am

    Surely, the term “Gay marriage” separates us from what we truly want which is marriage equality.

    I, personally want to be treated like anyone else. If I marry I don’t wish it to be labelled, and treated separate as using the term will do.

    I find it an oxymoron to say you wanted to be treated equality but insist on separating marriage by labelling it.

    Marriage should mean the same regardless of sex and gender not separated because of it.

  37. womandrogyne 8 May 2013, 10:49am

    To me, the point about Equal Marriage is that if a relationship is legal, then it should be legal to solemnise that relationship, without discrimination as to what “type” of relationship that is (apropos, I personally don’t see why so much of the world is so scared of the idea of more than two people marrying – many polyamorous relationships are way healthier than many couple relationships).
    Thinking of “gay marriage” as a handy shorthand may feel comfortable if gay is what you happen to be, but if you’re not, it’s just like being told you don’t exist.

  38. I know it is not a popular view, but I think that `gay marriage’ is the correct term. Like it or not the term `marriage’ has been used for centuries for marriage between two people of opposite gender. Rather than pretend the word has a new meaning, why not DEFINE the new relationship `gay marriage’ – with all the rights and obligations of marriage, but between two peopleof the same gender. This is a simple and obvious solution – so simple that it appears to have escaped notice.

    1. But then why campaign at all to open marriage to same sex couples in those countries or US states which already recognise those couples and provide them with the same rights and status in the law as opposite sex married couples? I guess you are one of those who believe the UK’s civil partnerships meet all needs? If we want to move on from that, we need to dispense with the distinction even if we are only talking about language.

    2. For the same reason that Loving v. VA didn’t DEFINE a new relationship called “interracial marriage”.

      And, you’re just incorrect. The term “marriage” has had many meanings “for centuries” which aren’t limited to “two people of the opposite gender”.

  39. I disagree with Murray Lipp.
    For two reasons:
    # 1. If two people of the same sex get married, what they have is a marriage, not a ‘gay marriage’; their country has not created a new “type” of marriage, a gay version of other marriages… it simply allows them to join the institution of marriage, it does not exclude them from this institution anymore. He asks “So what’s wrong with using the word ‘gay’ in front of ‘marriage’ to specify a type of marriage…” The point here is that there’s no new “type” of marriage to describe; you’re trying to highlight a difference that does not exist. So, by repeatedly saying ‘gay marriage’ you’re not specifying any difference; instead, you’re making people believe that gays want special rights and recognition, and not equal rights and recognition.
    # 2. ‘Marriage equality’ does not merely refer to the equal allocation of rights and benefits to all married couples: it primarily refers to the fact that everyone has equal access to marriage itself.

  40. keith, moral instructor 8 May 2013, 1:10pm

    The term gay marriage is as preposterous as black marriage or tall marriage.
    Legal marriage does not recognize sexual preferences, stature or skin colour, Furthermore, the ridiculous term implies that same sex couples that marry must be gay. However, under same sex marriage laws, straight same sex couples would technically be allowed to marry also.

  41. Luke2013 -another Luke- 8 May 2013, 1:41pm

    I disagree with Murray Lipp.
    For two reasons:
    # 1. When two people of the same sex get married what they have is a marriage, not a ‘gay marriage’; their country has not created a new “type” of marriage… a gay version of other marriages… it simply allows them to join the institution of marriage, it does not exclude them from this institution anymore. He asks “So what’s wrong with using the word ‘gay’ in front of ‘marriage’ to specify a type of marriage…” The point here is that there’s no new “type” of marriage to describe; you’re trying to highlight a difference that, in reality, does not exist. So, by repeatedly saying ‘gay marriage’ you’re not specifying any difference; instead you’re making people believe that we want special rights and recognition, and not equal rights and recognition.
    # 2. ‘Marriage equality’ does not merely refer to the equal allocation of rights and benefits to all married couples: it primarily refers to equal access to marriage itself.

    1. With regard to #2, one cannot graduate, or prioritize the indications of equality. Something is either equal, or it is not. The Same-sex marriage bill for England and Wales, at Westminster, makes punctilious distinctions between marriages for different types of spouse, has widely different consequences for difference types of spouse, and so is not at all equal.

      But then a Tory minister claimed it was to be Equal Marriage, so of course it was never going to be that.

      Odd how other countries, even with legal systems based upon Westminster’s, have been able to simply remove the gender references in the existing marriage law, but the Westminster Government Equality Office could not write such a simple amending bill here. Almost as if they are really the Government Inequalities Office.

    2. With regard to #2, one cannot graduate, or prioritize the indications of equality. Something is either equal, or it is not. The Same-sex marriage bill for England and Wales, at Westminster, makes punctilious distinctions between marriages for different types of spouse, has widely different consequences for difference types of spouse, and so is not at all equal.

  42. I shouldn’t have gay read this article so soon after eating gay breakfast. Now I need to gay walk down to the store to gay buy some aspirin for my gay headache.

  43. I would like to point out something about the UK that people who don’t live here probably don’t know and most people who do live here probably don’t think about.

    For the most part, the word partner has come to replace husband/wife, domestic partner or significant other. We have already moved to a society where all primary relationships are thought of as equal and most people don’t assume that you are in a particular type of relationship. Not only do I find this liberating, I believe it is why we are moving so much faster than the US in achieving equality.

    It will be interesting to see who gets there first, but my money is on Cameron’s coalition not Roberts’ Court.

    1. We are moving in ways unlike many states in the US, but that’s not much of a competition.

      On this devolved matter it is not meaningful to talk of the UK. England and Wales often talk a great game on equality, but there is huge discrimination in the practical details. Our establishment is solidly entrenched and deeply prejudiced.

  44. Disgraceful Bi-phobic article, not everyone who enters a same-sex relationship or Marriage is gay!

    You`d think that homosexuals having been treated so badly by heterosexual society would be more understanding and compassionate towards bisexuals but they are aren`t.

    Bisexuality is a now proven sexual orientation and still bisexuals get erased by gay people, being oppressed by the very same people we helped fight for equal rights for decades ago.

    A bisexual doesn`t become gay because he or she enters a same-sex Marriage likewise a bisexual doesn`t become straight if he or she enters a straight Marriage.

  45. keep up the discussion
    till all countries have equal rights marriage
    and let us thank Murray for weighing in

    1. keith, moral instructor to filth 8 May 2013, 3:53pm

      Hurrah. Then we can get to work on allowing fathers and consenting adult sons to marry each other. This would be a fine loophole for inheritance tax.

  46. The author repeatedly talks about “LGBT” people, but shows no awareness that the “B” and the “T” refer to actual groups of people. The author cannot reasonably discuss why “LGBT” people should use the term “gay marriage” when he does not address or recognise the legitimate reasons why some of the B and T parts of this community dislike or reject the term. It’s offensive to include our letters in the Alphabet Soup community while ignoring our actual existence, perspectives and needs. This comment piece is deeply and harmfully bi-erasing and trans-erasing.

  47. Sam Maloney 8 May 2013, 5:58pm

    You are simply wrong, Mr. Lipp. I respect your efforts, but if winning this struggle is our top priority, we must use the words that will appeal most to the average citizen. It is easy for the typical hetero to be opposed to something ‘gay’, but hard for them to oppose anything ‘equal’.

  48. Another PN article concurrently: “Rhode Island Bishop warns Catholics against attending gay weddings because it may ‘harm their relationship with God’”

    When a gay writer finds himself advocating terms being used by hateful priests, maybe it is time to reconsider?

  49. Like so many others here I definitely disagree with this article. Along with many of the reasons discussed here I have a few regarding “gay marriage.” Although I don’t think it is a bad term, because as the author states numerous times, it is a well known and somewhat beneficial term. However, it is not inclusive. It leaves out all the other letters in LGBTQIA an puts the rights of those who are “gay” ahead of the rest. Also, although “gay marriage” and “marriage equality are technically different terms with different definitions, I found his argument for splitting these to be really dumb. Yes, we are striving to get married or have “gay marriages” as he puts it but asking for those as separate parts is a ridicllous idea. Say Minnesota legalized “same-sex marriage” but not “marriage equality” in his terms. Ok, so now those who are the same sex can get married but they don’t get the state rights associated with it…. Then what the hell is the point? For the right to have the ceremony?

  50. im from Bangladesh . here in my country homosexuality is illegal .so i think i don’t have any qualification to give u guys any advise . i just wanna say we r separating ourself by using “gay marriage “this 2 words to getting marriage equality .

  51. Jonathan Masci 12 May 2013, 10:10pm

    While I certainly agree that “gay marriage” is still more commonly used in the media and by the public, and I understand your distinction between the event of marriage and the treatment of marriage in society, I generally prefer the phrase “marriage equality” to refer to the political issue itself. To me, the issue is one of basic equality, which is an important principle that most Americans like to think their country represents. I think “marriage equality” emphasizes a connection to core American ideas, which is important for establishing that prohibition of gay or same-sex marriages is a denial of civil rights. Therefore, though I understand and respect your argument against changing the name of the page, I personally feel “marriage equality” is a better phrase with which to represent the movement to legalize gay marriage.

    By the way, I am a proud subscriber to “Gay Marriage USA” and love your posts. Keep up the great work!

  52. Why not Queer Marriage? Bet that would bring Mr Burrowes on side fast! It sounds so subversive – and it could be – not of marriage as a vow but of small minded interpretations of what that vow might mean to those making it. Far from making marriage meaningless it would fill marriage with a weight of meanings worthy of thought and reflection.

  53. I’m a bisexual male and I also dislike therm gay marriage because it implies a difference between gay and straight when that is the last thing that is needed right now. What the public need to understand is that the LGBT community is not seperate or aside from the community but is instead part of the community. When interracial marriages were made legal, no said they were going to a mixed marriage. We should be focusing on integration, not seperation. Just my point of view.

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