I Don’t Acknowledge Your Marriage

Tom Ackerman at Religious Dispatches no longer recognizes marriage:

Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.

She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”
“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”

The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,

“How’s your longtime companion, Jill?”
“She’s my wife!”
“Yeah, well, my beliefs don’t recognize marriage.”

Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it’s like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another’s beliefs.

As one commenter notes, it’s brilliant *and* passive-aggressive!

(Thanks to Ben for the link!)

  • Richard Wade

    This is an excellent idea. Technically it is not “passive-aggressive” which involves not doing something in order to cause difficulty for another. This is simple “turnabout is fair play” and I love it.

  • MH

    Channeling the Mythbusters:

    I deny your reality and substitute my own.

  • PMP

    ohhhh, brilliant! I can’t wait to put this one to use.

  • SarahH

    I wish I was brave enough to use that. As it is, I have a hard time with confrontation face-to-face and will probably only get to use it online and/or if someone starts making stupid (read: any) arguments about why gay marriage shouldn’t be legally recognized. So I guess I hope somebody antagonizes me soon, because that really is brilliant.

  • http://binky.bgonet.com Dodd

    @PMP-
    I officially do not recognize your marriage, but only because I would like to tap that.

  • http://hailstones.tumblr.com Fish

    This is interesting. But to tell someone their existing marriage is not valid still doesn’t really balance the situation between heterosexual marriage and the desired homosexual marriage, if that is what you’re aiming at. Homosexual marriage is relatively new to the cultural scene when compared to other rites of passage, including heterosexual marriage. What you say derives the same sort of shock that you would get if you told someone you believed the earth to be flat, ball to be spelled “h-o-t,” or the solar system (or even the universe) to be geocentric. You’d still get raised eyebrows in those situations. “I don’t believe in using toilets,” for example is the same sort of attempt to reject cultural norms in order to alienate those who actually have indoor plumbing, just because you or someone you care about doesn’t.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    Everyone who uses this: be sure and stick your tongue out at the end and say “nyah nyah nyah!” This is a schoolyard snit passing as protest.

  • fanaticfire86

    i really disagree with that just because you dont recognize our marriage doesnt that mean you insult with a comment such as “i dont recognize etc” to them because regardless you respect that person and there beliefs, that seems more like an offensive comment rather trying to protect your own beliefs. And infact if you did you wouldnt make such a comment, you would recognize there beliefs as they have recognized yours and leave it at that. Most atheists complain that people try to shove their beliefs down there throat, and now i atheism trying to be shoved down other peoples throat. Why bother making small comments that dont need to be made and just live in equal respect to eachother and there beliefs. I think that would be the more intelligent matter instead of trying to always make a point.

  • Vincent

    um, because they aren’t respecting my beliefs?

    I like this idea, except it wouldn’t make any sense for someone to use it against me for example, just because I am married. I’m all for equal marriage rights. This is only valid if the person you are talking to is known to be actively opposed to gay marriage.
    Unless of course you are actually trying to make the point that you honestly feel marriage is an outdated concept that should be abolished all together.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    As long as the law recognizes certain marriages and not others, I’m not sure how this really helps.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    I loved the idea the first time I read that. While I’m at it I’ll tell the individual I don’t recognize their religion either. Why am I required to respect their “beliefs” or their “religion” when they don’t even respect other human beings?

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    I’m not married to my long time girlfriend and mother of our children. When people call Hil “my wife” I always correct them. We’re not married, we’ve never been married and we’ve no plans to get married. She also isn’t “mine”, she is her own person.

    Sometimes people ask me what I call her. I answer that her name is Hilary. Sometimes people ask me why we aren’t married. I answer that there has never been a compelling enough reason for us to get married. I don’t need the tax incentive, I don’t need the (few and arbitrary) legal rights, I’m not religious and, most importantly, she’s never asked me.

    No-one is denying my right to marry or preventing me from doing anything but sometimes people make assumptions about us that are just wrong, including that we’re married or that we’re some kind of new age couple.

    I don’t go out of my way to tell people that I don’t agree with marriage or that I view it as a religious ceremony a few hundred years out of date. I do correct errors and false assumptions.

    If two people, regardless of sexuality or even legal marital status, decide to call themselves partner, husband and wife, husband and husband, wife and wife or anything else they like then I will probably go along with it. By not recognising a traditional marriage as described above I would also not be recognising a non-traditional gay marriage. I do recognise gay marriages and support their right to have this upheld in law even though marriage itself is something that I don’t desire or support.

    I recognise gay marriages and urge others to do the same. Eventually the law will catch up with the fact that we treat people the same regardless of their sexuality and put legislature in place to recognise it. The state reflects the will of the people so we need to ensure that our will is firm.

  • http://www.someone.com someone

    This is my response to Buffy: tolerance is what you seem to want, but aren’t interested in giving. Mete out condemnation for your condemners at will, sure, but be careful not to bunch people together in generalizations, especially the religious. It doesn’t pay to demonstrate your simplicity by replicating the very behavior you dislike each time you say that all of a certain people are the same. They are not.


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