Marriage Equality Action

The Empire State strikes back.

New York State’s Marriage Equality Act passed last night, it reads in part:

S 10-A. Parties to a marriage. 1. A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex. 2. No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage, whether deriving from statute, administrative or court rule, public policy, common law or any other source of law, shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being or having been of the same sex rather than a different sex. When necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law, all gender-specific language or terms shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner in all such sources of law.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo immediately signed it, starting the 30-day clock on implementation. Note also that the law has the same effect regardless of whether the parties to the signing ceremony are of the same or different sex:

Since the law does not require in-state residence for a marriage license, residents of any state can go there to get married, unlike the other states that permit homogamous marriage (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.).


The law nicely refers to same sex and different sex. That’s OK with me – unlike opposite sex, which is an arbitrary intervention on behalf of gender binaries. If people use the terms same sex and different sex I will not harangue them to use homogamy and heterogamy instead, although I prefer them as scientific terms.

But, gay marriage is not an appropriate term for the law, since the it doesn’t – and the law never did – specify the sexual orientation of anyone getting married. Lots of people of all sexual orientations married under the old laws – they just couldn’t always marry the person they wanted to.

And, same-sex marriage won’t be OK if it’s just juxtaposed with marriage, as is the common practice.

Of course, marriage is a fine term when there is no need to differentiate further.

9 thoughts on “Marriage Equality Action

  1. Dude, seriously, quit using “heterogamy” and “homogamy”. You make it sound like those are two completely different types of marriages when you say it like that. Same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage aren’t different, besides an adjective. I mean, what do you use when you want to talk about interracial marriage and same-race marriage? Are those so different they get different nouns, too? Besides, are you even LGB? Because if you aren’t, it really isn’t your place to come up with these words. It mostly annoys me because I’m bisexual and I hate the attitude people have that a same-sex relationship and a different-sex relationship are just SO different. They aren’t. And you’re not helping.


    1. That’s actually his point, that there’s no real difference between them besides the sex of the partners.

      And yes, I know about labeling theory and that it can be harmful, but when someone is doing a comparison study (which it seems much of his work about marriage is) you need to be able to label the two groups you’re comparing or the comparisons don’t work. It has nothing to do with prejudice or any sort of value judgment, it’s about being able to compare two things scientifically. If someone is doing a study on how people are being treated in their workplace and whether their gender affects it and they separate the results by men and women that’s not being prejudiced, it’s smart data gathering.

      (For the record this comes from a lesbian)


    2. I should have said “biological sex”, which is also an important point since the law would allow transgender people to marry whoever they want, while just making it “same-sex” would have made it possible to restrict transgender marriages.


      1. I appreciate these comments. When you’re just talking about marriage, I’d call it marriage. But like Rosemary says, whenever you would say “same-sex” or “different sex” because you have some good reason to — like, “Hey, did you hear New York legalized same-sex marriage?” — then I’d say homogamy or heterogamy instead. I’m not making or imposing new distinctions, just suggesting different words for them.

        Interestingly, for interracial marriage, if it was an example of the general pattern of marrying outside of some group, we do have a technical word for it — “exogamy,” as opposed to “endogamy,” which is marriage within a given group. Exogamy was very important in the development of human society, because it facilitatied social networks and cultural exchange, and cut down on inbreeding (though it also often involved men trading women). But if two friends of different “races” got married today, there would be need to use these terms, naturally.

        There are lots of other terms about marriage, too, like hypergamy, polygamy, monogamy; and other terms about family systems, like patrilineal/matrilineal, patrilocal/matrilocal, etc. — all ways of classifying family systems or patterns. Fortunately, life is complicated.

        As for my sexual orientation… there are those who think such identities are qualifications for certain kinds of social science and those who don’t. I don’t, but if you disagree, that’s up to you. (And, thanks for calling me “dude.”)


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