My partner and I are getting married in a little over a month. She, a lawyer, and I, a professor, live in the Czech Republic. Technically, we aren’t getting married because the Czech Republic doesn’t have marriage equality. Our relationship will not be recognized in the U.S. For that, we need to be married in a state or nation that has marriage equality. Germany might soon. Other options would be a number of EU countries or the United States, but that doesn’t affect our status in the Czech Republic. Finally, our marriage will also not be recognized by some in Jewish circles as well since the ketubah, the Jewish marriage document which possesses legal status in Jewish courts, is between two women.
There is nothing legal about our Jewish wedding except one could argue its Jewishness. So, the day after our wedding our relationship will have the same recognition as it had the day before and the day before that. This would not be the case if we were a heterosexual couple. It reminds me of the countless commitment ceremonies that took place before marriage equality in the United States. They were not prohibited (like the marriages that slaves had because slaves weren’t considered people under the law or eligible to enter into legal contracts while in bondage (see pages 301-302). Yet, similar to the “contubernal relationships” of slaves performed by their masters or other slaves (page 302), they weren’t particularly legal either. Despite the ceremony, there was no change in status of the couple within society. Yet, recognition was and still is an important component of both struggles for rights. In fact, according to Darlene Goring in “The History of Slave Marriage in the United States,” (345-346), the process of gaining legal recognition was very similar for both ex-slaves and the marriage equality community in the United States. Continue reading “Reflections on Marriage by Ivy Helman”