Rachel Bird’s and Gideon Codding’s rights are being violated. Their civil marriage license, you see, does not contain the words “bride” and “groom.”
Bird and Codding, both California residents, sought to marry last August. Unfortunately for the happy couple, the State of California in May introduced gender-neutral marriage licenses in accordance with the State Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex civil marriage is protected by the California State Constitution. Where once such licenses titled the applicants as “Bride” and “Groom,” the licenses now only read “Party A” and “Party B.”
Bird and Codding could not stand by and let such a terrible slight against love, honor, and all that is holy go unchallenged, of course. Mavericks that they are, they decided to cross out “Party A” and “Party B” and write in the old-fashioned gendered titles. Alas, The Man would not stand for such brave protests in support of American girlhood and manliness, putting the smackdown on them by informing them that altered licenses would not be accepted.
Bird and Codding refused to fill out another form. The couple refused to fill out any marriage license that does not contain the terms “Bride” and “Groom.” “We just feel that our rights have been violated,” Bird told the Sacramento Bee.
And I, for one, feel your pain, Rachel. Really, I do. After all, your ability to be considered a legal human being in the context of your marriage is placed in jeopardy by calling yourself “Party A” instead of “Bride.” I mean, heck, how are people supposed to know which “party” was the bride and which was the groom? By looking at the names? How absurd. (To say nothing of the obvious impossibility of getting married in another state. Such a thing has surely never happened. Especially not in Las Vegas.)
This is not to say that this tale of bureaucratic absurdity is limited to the not-quite-legal couple. The Placer County clerk’s office’s decision to stamp out such seditious acts of anarchy as writing in “Bride” and “Groom” is an act of bizarre paperwork-worshipping fanaticism. Surely they could have just left well enough alone? And of course I would be remiss not to point out that the bureaucrats deserve a new record for impersonality by removing any hint of humanity from their marriage licenses.
It’s fair enough to say that in a state that allows same-sex marriage, licenses ought to allow for that opportunity instead of only reflecting a two-sex paradigm, but the bureaucrats’ eternal attempt to remove any hint of sentimentality from the documents that mark our lives has surely reached a new nadir.
Mind you, Bird and Codding certainly don’t seem to understand what a civil rights violation is. They’re suffering from their decision not to get legally married: Bird can’t sign up for Codding’s medical benefits or assume his name, for instance, and God help them when it comes time to fill out insurance forms. But, of course, that is a decision, and one that they are responsible for. Having one’s rights actually violated would entail, for instance, being legally barred from entering into a civil marriage with a person you love and live with because of other peoples’ religious beliefs and sexual preferences. Bird and Codding face no such barrier; their marriage is only affected because they allow it to be.
In any event, I would like to submit a modest proposal to solve this problem: Change the marriage license forms. You can’t possibly tell me that when Jim and Bob finally got hitched after waiting for fifty years, they were happy with being called “Party A” and “Party B.” And certainly Bird and Codding are unhappy with the situation as it stands. The solution is so obvious that even the bureaucrats, who no doubt run and hide at the thought of genuine human interaction, should be able to see it: Change “Party A” and “Party B” to “Bride/Groom (Circle One).”
Simple. Change a little bit of ink, and everyone gets to go home happy. Bird and Codding get to call themselves bride and groom, and gay and lesbian couples can still marry. Maybe the officials in the state government will be upset, but I suspect that they’ll be OK. And in the meantime, Bird and Codding could consider learning the difference between the consequences of a decision and the genuine violation of natural rights.
And while California is going about its merry way, Ohio might want to consider following its lead. Bad enough their governor could beat ours up. Bad enough they get sun in December, and we get snow from October to April. Do they really have to arrive at sane marriage laws before we do, too?
Zach Wiita is a senior political science and theater studies major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]