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June 4, 2009

Sixth In the Nation
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:37 PM * 110 comments

New Hampshire has become the latest state to legalize gay marriage.


CONCORD - New Hampshire became the fifth state in New England yesterday and the sixth in the country to allow same-sex marriage, as lawmakers approved and the governor signed revised legislation designed to balance personal and religious freedom.

Hang-ups over the wording had threatened to kill the bill multiple times this spring, but in a flurry of activity yesterday, Senate and House lawmakers approved a final version acceptable to Governor John Lynch


Have I mentioned what a nice place The Balsams would be to have your wedding? And you could see the Ballot Room while you’re here.

Comments on Sixth In the Nation:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:25 AM:


(location, location, location? ;) )

#2 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:29 AM:

Good on ya!

#3 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:29 AM:

Good on ya!

#4 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:31 AM:

Terry Karney @ 2 & 3 ...
Twice over, even ;)

#5 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:34 AM:

It was so good I hadda repeat it!

#6 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:42 AM:

"Step by step the longest march can be won, can be won..."

I'd been thinking about Iowa for our (eventual) wedding, but New England is more scenic. And fall is my favorite time of year. (Unfortunately, it's also our busiest con season.)

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:48 AM:

By the way, do the bigots think that state rights apply in this case too and not just when it helps further their sick causes?

Good for New Hampshire!

#8 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 02:18 AM:

Three cheers for New Hampshire, and a few extra for New England, the most humane region in the US!

#9 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 02:29 AM:

Hear hear! and here's to many more.

#10 ::: paxed ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 02:35 AM:

Of course some people aren't happy:

"Governor Lynch and a narrow majority of the Legislature today have ripped a significant hole in the fabric of New Hampshire society by passing same-sex marriage legislation," said Brian Brown, executive director of National Organization for Marriage.

Ah, those silly wingnuts, wanting to protect "marriage"...

#11 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 07:09 AM:

Protecting marriage from people who want to get married. Yeah, those long-term commitments. Gotta watch out for them.

#12 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 07:11 AM:

On one hand, I'm thrilled. Another state allowing everyone the same right to marry the person he or she loves is a great thing.

(I've never been able to figure out why the self-professed "keep the government out of my life" libertarians I know have no qualms with the government deciding for them the gender of their spouses.)

On the other hand, I wonder what the explicit exemption for charitable or educational institutions means. If it just means that churches aren't required to perform same sex marriages, well, duh. They wouldn't have been anyway. If it means that, for example, a Catholic school can legally refuse to provide spousal benefits to married gay couples when they, as a matter of course, provide them to married straight couples, well, that still feels somewhat "separate, but equal."

Even the latter though is a great first step. We were never reaching full equality in one, giant leap, but in a series of smaller steps anyway. At some point, I hope we'll have the momentum to topple the Federal so-called "D"OMA.

(I do wonder if RI is feeling any peer pressure right now. I checked with Wikipedia. I hadn't realized that every state in the union has taken a side on this issue except RI and NM.)

#13 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 07:47 AM:

John Chu @12, (I do wonder if RI is feeling any peer pressure right now. I checked with Wikipedia. I hadn't realized that every state in the union has taken a side on this issue except RI and NM.)

Apparently, they're preparing to take the bold and radical step of allowing gays and lesbians to make funeral arrangements for their deceased partners. (h/t someone on Pam's House Blend)

#14 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 08:43 AM:

John Chu @ 12:

Obama is on record (during the campaign, natch) as saying that DOMA is, prima facie, *bad law*. If I recall me correctly -- I can't find a transcript of that speech with quickie websearching -- he added something like, if you want to keep gays from marrying, don't do it by exempting one tiny portion of contract law from the Full Faith and Credit Clause, because that's just half-assed and doomed to be rescinded eventually for its half-assery.

#15 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 10:49 AM:

"(I've never been able to figure out why the self-professed "keep the government out of my life" libertarians I know have no qualms with the government deciding for them the gender of their spouses.)"

If they were true libertarians, they would not mind whose gender was a spouse of whose.

Gad, that's an awkward sounding sentence toward the end, but it gets the thought across.

#16 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 11:45 AM:

What I'd like explained to me, and what no one who wants to "defend the sanctity of marriage" ever explains, is how preventing same sex couples from getting married defends marriage?

Oh, by the way, congratulations to New Hampshire.

#17 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 11:50 AM:


I'm very happy that enough states have passed it that I'm starting to lose track of which states have legal gay marriage and which don't. There's a long way yet to go, but we're off to a good start! OTOH, shame on my state (Minnesota) for not having done it yet.

#18 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 12:04 PM:

Many of the libertarians I know are strong supporters of same sex marriage. Many are also strong supporters of legalizing polygamy among consenting adults.

The libertarian arguments over marriage issues tend to circle around whether the libertarian who's doing the argument thinks of marriage as a sacrament or a contract.

(And btw, yay New Hampshire!)

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 12:27 PM:

Fragano #16: What I'd like explained to me, and what no one who wants to "defend the sanctity of marriage" ever explains, is how preventing same sex couples from getting married defends marriage?

Oh, that's easy. If same-sex couples can get married then opposite-sex marriage isn't special, and marriage should be special, shouldn't it?

#20 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 12:36 PM:

Sarah @18 - You're right that most actual libertarians are anti-government interference in marriage. I tend to find it has more to do with idiots saying that they are libertarian because even conservatives don't like being associated with republicans. Politically on the spectrum those people are republican.

Also, I find that I am unconcerned about states legalizing gay marriage at this point. It will happen, it is becoming more and more accepted, and social change always forces legislative change, over the long term. My real concerns are that the political capital of the progressive community is being wasted on what is currently a divisive issue that will solve itself instead of being focused on real issues like health care or the abstinence gag rule. We're wasting our time and energy.

#21 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 12:37 PM:

Congratulations to New Hampshire!

Like John Chu, I'm just worried that the exemptions rolled into the bill mean that religious organizations can discriminate when they're doing secular things. Even so, yay! We're getting there.

Elliott Mason @ 14:

According to the President, June is now LGBT Pride Month 2009. We'll see if this is more than just a sop, but I hope so.

Fragano Ledgister @ 16:

I still want to know where the Biblical literalists get the idea that marriage is one man, one woman. Paul says it, and Judaism decided on it a long time ago, but the bits of the Bible that they like to pick and choose their more regressive notions of society from don't.

And James D. Macdonald nails your question at post 19.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Jim Macdonald #19: You really should watch your spelling!

#23 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 12:39 PM:

David Manheim @ 20:

Not to be rude, but if people don't fight for something important, nothing gets done. There's nothing that precludes us from fighting for multiple things.

#24 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 12:48 PM:

Jim @19, Fragan@16: I think there is a bit of a straw-man argument there.

(I've heard it argued much better than this, but I find it hard to replicate becuase the mindset is so far from my own.) The real concern is that marriage is supposed to be a religious decision, which is sacred. To the extent it is removed from the people's naive conception of marriage, there are questions raised in everyone's mind about whether there is a unique bond created in a marriage. By destroying the naivete of the general populace, you make marriages less likely to succeed, and weaken society.

Of course, it's a ridiculous argument anyways, and ties in to the fundamental one: Belief instead of knowledge. Their mental realities are fragile becuase their ideals don't correspond with the way the world works, and they need to do everything they can to protect these delicate structures. They want to remain ignorant of the fact that most marriages end badly, ignorant of the fact that what they think of as love is to a large extent neurochemical, and that there is a reality-based community out there. They want to believe instead that what they have is unique, and that because God intended the couple to marry.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 12:48 PM:

KeithS #21: The Bible is rather ambiguous on the subject of marriage, as on many other subjects.

#26 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:05 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 25:

I know that the Bible is ambiguous on many subjects, but I'm just wondering why they seem to pick their choice anti-homosexuality argument from Leviticus but their definition of marriage from Paul. (Not that Paul had a good deal of positive things to say about homosexuality either (maybe, depending on what the words he used actually mean)).

But I'm straying wildly from the topic, so I'll leave it alone.

#27 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:05 PM:

David, #20: I find it very difficult to tell people that fighting for their civil rights is wasting time and energy that could be better spent on other issues. It's too reminiscent of those people in the 60s who kept saying that blacks should be patient, it just wasn't the right TIME yet.

#28 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:19 PM:

David 20: Listen to the Lee (27). She has the wisdom. And she said politely what I refrained from saying, shall we say, somewhat less politely.

Now that I'm calmer, however, here's how I interpreted what you say at 20: "Xopher, your civil rights aren't a real issue, and they're not worth anyone spending time or energy on. They'll take care of themselves in due course." I don't actually see another way to read that; if you meant something else, please enlighten me.

I'm sure you can at least see how my interpretation is possible, and how I could take offense at it, since clearly this is a condescending, belittling, and insulting thing to say.

All that said, feel free to Fight the Good Fight on health care or the abstinence gag rule; you should spend your time and energy on the issues that seem most important to you. And since I'm neither a hypocrite nor a jackhole, I will not pop my head into a thread discussing either of them to tell you "Psssh! Wasting OUR time, I see! Focus on something more important, you silly people."

#29 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:29 PM:

Fragano @#22, fixed.

#30 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:36 PM:

Fragano @ 16

I had a bit of an epiphany on this question that has given me an annoying margin of sympathy for the reaction (while still disagreeing violently with the conclusion). It happened something like this ...

I have a number of straight (to the best of my knowledge) female friends who are in the habit of casually referring to their closest female friends (also, to the best of my knowledge, straight) using the word "wife". As in, "I had lunch today with my favorite wife so-and-so and blah blah blah." My perception is that it's intended as a light-hearted invocation of a close emotional relationship that does not partake of any romantic or sexual aspects. (The majority of the women I'm thinking of are either married to, or in exclusive romantic relationships with, men. And while some may be in open relationships and/or be theoretically open to romantic relationships with either gender, this does not appear to be what is intended by their use of the word "wife".)

As a lesbian, who feels very strongly about being denied legal access to marriage (leaving aside, for the moment, a lack of a prospective marriage partner), my emotional reaction to hearing this particular usage of the word "wife" is something like: "By using this word in this way, you're making fun of a status that I aspire to sincerely and seriously. It feels like you're demeaning the very concept of two women being married to each other by using the language of marriage to describe a relationship that doesn't conform to my personal conceptualization of that status. And I feel hurt and insulted because it feels like you're making fun of me even though I know you don't intend that at all."



I've been working harder on not being bothered by this particular word usage, but I find epiphanies of this sort to be quite salutory in general.

#31 ::: caffeine ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 01:54 PM:

Woohoo, that's fantastic!

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 02:25 PM:

Heather Rose Jones #30:

I think I understand your epiphany. I don't think, though, that the two things are in the same category. Using "wife" to mean "woman with whom I have a strong emotional connection" does seem a bit odd to me, but that may just be a generational or cultural difference.

For example: one of my nieces (who is, as far as I'm aware, straight) lists herself on her Facebook page as married to a female friend. I file that in the category of weird things that young people do.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 02:28 PM:

Lee #27: A fellow by the name of Martin Luther King pointed out that time, by itself, does nothing. I rather think that he had the right of it.

#34 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 30:

This might be an incredibly stupid question, since I don't know you or your group of friends, but have you pointed this out to them? Sometimes things happen because of innocent ignorance instead of aggressive ignorance.

Fragano Ledgister @ 33:

I think he did indeed. Time alone does not cure all wounds.

Also, remember California. It was going forward, then it was knocked back. Waiting is not enough.

#35 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 03:07 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @#16: Opposite-sex marriage is a relationship between unequal partners. Same-sex marriage is a relationship between equal partners. If we go changing the definition of marriage to say that spouses are equals, we will DESTROY MARRIAGE!

I mean, seriously, if my husband gets wind of this, he's gonna stop doing the dishes every day, and then what will I do?

#36 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 03:14 PM:

Lee (#27)/Fragano (#33):

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
--Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Or in a more humorous vein: "The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday - but never jam to-day."

#37 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 03:32 PM:

This must be a comedy. It's ending with everybody getting married. Yay for more comedies and fewer tragedies.

#38 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 03:40 PM:

TomB @ #37, "This must be a comedy. It's ending with everybody getting married."

Unless you're misanthropic (or Eeyore. Or both.). Then it's tragedy.

#39 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 03:55 PM:

Lee, #27, the irony in DC is that it's black pastors who live outside DC who are trying to put together a referendum to repeal the DC law that recognizes same-sex marriages from the states. It makes me wonder if they would like to go back to segregated schools and water fountains.

And as it is, the law has to be approved by Congress before it goes into effect and who knows if that will happen.

#40 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 03:56 PM:

David @ 20:

Reading you charitably, I deduce that you think that the right to legal marriage, by itself, is no big.

Were it possible to take the right to a marriage ceremony and a piece of paper showing it happened by itself, this Canadian Dyke might even agree with you. If that were the only change in the lives of those affected, it would be worth something, but maybe not this.

And I DO agree with you, from the perspective of having won and being able to look back a few years on, that the fight cost us. Other things did not get done for lack of time, money and energy. There is other work that queer organisations and progressive organisations need to do in Canada that we'll be playing catch-up on for awhile. There are rifts that opened up around this subject that we're still working on healing.

But yes, it absolutely damned well has to be done. Firstly, because a marriage ceremony conveys hundreds of other rights, ranging from the ability to be treated as next-of-kin by hospital staff whether they happen to approve of you or not to the right to have your partner covered by your work benefits to the right to take your partner with you if you move to new country or to have them treated as a legitimate dependant in all sorts of places.

It would be possible, but even more insane and exhausting, to fight for these rights piecemeal. Once won, they'd have to be defended.

Marriage has national and international protections, everywhere. Once you have same sex marriage, you cannot restrict rights for same-sex married couples without restricting them for all married persons.

But the second reason is, if anything, even more important: marriage is deeply entrenched in the North American, and especially the American psyche, and it is entrenched as positive and public. I'm okay with 'public', by the way -- for a million reasons from courting to dinner party invitations to powers of attorney to who is allowed to pick whose kid up from school, society has a legitimate interest in who is a member of whose family being public information.

If you're in an opposite sex relationship, you don't have to think about this stuff much. You can afford to decide that you do not think society has a legitimate interest, and to keep your life "private". You can afford not to notice how private your life really isn't, even so - I used to get people preaching the gospel of "keep your sex life private and I don't care" to me while wearing wedding rings all the time.

We don't get to be "private" until we get to be public.

The condition where you cannot put your spouse's picture on your desk at work but any busybody with a grudge can send a picture of you and your wife to your boss and your ex-husband and put your livelihood and your right to see your kids at risk is not called "privacy". It is called "secrecy".

Same Sex Marriage has become The Fight because it has both legal and symbolic consequences that really matter. It makes us visible, and visible as people doing stuff that people do. It brings us in from our perceived place on the margins. It means that the next generation will grow up seeing gay people all around them, and seeing us as normative.

And that makes a difference to - among other things - the chances that when that generation encounters a gay or lesbian peer, they will accept them rather than, for example, beating them to death and calling it "gay panic".

#41 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 04:20 PM:

David Manheim: As a procedural issue... we need to fight for everything. No small part of the reason liberal and progressives feel as if they are under siege is because the right doesn't have the idea they need to save the fight for the big things.

They put on a full-court press for everything. The end result has been the entire shift of the public debate, even when the general tide of public opinion is against the "conventional" wisdom.

As a tactical matter, this is a visible thing. It's one of the, "ick factor" issues the Right has been counting on to keep the masses in line. If it falls then a lot of the rest of the Conservative Agenda is in jeopardy. The more so when the sky doesn't fall.

As a moral matter, this is about rights, and equality. It's a core values issue.

As to the argument that relgions need to have their idea of marriage enshrined in the law... bugger that for a lark. It's specious on it's face, and as a justification it's unconstitutional (it's specious on its face because nothing mandates a religion to marry anyone it doesn't want to. If I were to decide I wanted an Orthodox Jewish wedding, every synagogue went to would be within their rights to refuse me).

#42 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 04:28 PM:

Terry @ 41: It's even more specious than that. No given religious officiant is ever required to perform any marriage, ever. They can set whatever conditions they like, and are responsible only to their congregation and whatever religious chain of authority they operate within.

It is true that were a given officiant to refuse a couple who otherwise met their stated criteria (members of the congregation, members of the faith, attended marriage prep classes, whatever) on the basis that, for instance, the couple was mixed-race, the officiant might face all sorts of problems with their congregation, the general public, and any church authorities, but I don't believe the couple would have any actual legal recourse.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 04:31 PM:

Mary Dell #35: Ask him to buy a dishwasher?

#44 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 04:56 PM:

Heather, #30: I grok your epiphany, but that encoding isn't how I'd interpret your friends' usage if I were gay. To me, it would feel more like, "You are joking about a legal status that I desperately want access to and cannot get, and that doesn't feel funny from here."

OTOH, I would not discount the possibility that if this usage were to catch on and become mainstream*, it might defuse part of the resistance by simply getting people accustomed to hearing words like "husband" and "wife" applied in a gender-neutral way. If it no longer sounds weird for a straight woman to refer to her BFF as "my wife", it won't sound so strange to hear a lesbian refer to her legally-wedded partner that way either.

Christopher, #36: Yes, that was what I was thinking about. Thank you for digging out the actual quote.

Marna, #40: Hear, hear! Would you consider putting that up as an essay on LJ so that I can link to it?

* Which it is definitely not now; I would guess that it's some combination of generational and regional. I have a lot of friends in the 25-35 age range, and they don't use it. I also have several friends who are high-school teachers in various areas, who are GLBT-friendly and would certainly mention it if they'd heard it among their students.

#45 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 04:59 PM:

Keith S. @ 34

That would rather defeat the purpose of my epiphany, wouldn't it? That my emotional reaction to their use of the word is my reaction, based on an irrational sense that my definition and usage is more valid than their definition and usage. I don't somehow have stronger ownership rights over the word "wife" than they do ... just as straight people shouldn't have stronger ownership rights over the word "marriage".

On the other hand, one thing I have discussed with roughly the same set of friends is why I have a bit of a prickly reaction to the same-sex-but-non-romantic flirting that they include me in. But since that topic gets a bit complicated, I'll just point to the LJ post where I've discussed it previously. In the case of overtly pseudo-lesbian flirtation by nominally straight women, I do feel that I have better "ownership rights" over the concept than they do, and a more valid reason for feeling that "my culture" is being co-opted by outsiders for their own entertainment. But I still try to be mindful of the boundaries between my valid feelings about their interactions with me and my less-valid feelings about interactions between other people. (Not invalid, but less valid.)

#46 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 05:02 PM:

Fragano @#45: only if he's saved sufficient pin money.

#47 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 05:08 PM:

Lee @ 44

Your described reaction isn't all that different from what I was trying to express. On the other hand, I may be less sanguine than you about the desireability of bleaching the word "wife" of its specific reference to a committed romantic/sexual partnership. It might defuse negative reaction to same-sex use, but perhaps at the cost of erasing visibility. I already have to do too much interpretive work when I hear a woman refer to her "girlfriend" (which more often than not is not intended in a romantic sense); I'd rather not have to make the same interpretive effort when she refers to her "wife". I'm recalling all the stories about people in same-sex relationships spending years talking about their "partner" only to find that even their nearest and dearest assumed it was a business relationship.

#48 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 05:12 PM:

Heather @ 30: No, you're right, it's weird. And demeaning. Next time it comes up, ask them if they would ever refer to a close male friend as their "husband."

#49 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 05:23 PM:

Madeline @48: Why not? Condi Rice did...

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 05:27 PM: you really want to cite Condi Rice as a role model? She did a lot of things that are Not OK At All.

#51 ::: dajt ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 05:48 PM:

I have occasionally been bemused that were my wife to say "my girlfriend" people would assume it meant a non-sexual relationship, but if I were to do so, they would assume the opposite. On the other hand, if either of us were to say "our girlfriend", they would be very confused. But if either of us said "my boyfriend", . . .

When trying to teach my children English I frequently end up saying "I know it doesn't make sense. English is weird."

To me it just seems Wrong to refer to someone as "husband" or "wife" without having that actual relationship with them. On the other hand, I have a friend who refers to her husband and her boyfriend as "my boys", which confuses me because I refer to my kids that way. Gah. English is weird.

#52 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 08:22 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 45:

I understand your epiphany, and I agree with it. You shouldn't get angry with people who don't intend to make fun of you and are very nice people. I'm for that, very much.

However, I don't really see why you feel that telling them how you feel about it should lessen that. They don't know that their usage is trivializing something important to you and to other people. If no one corrects them, they'll keep doing that. You don't see why you should have a stronger ownership of the word "wife" than they do, but shouldn't the use of it for something much closer to its primary meaning be important too? "Husband", "wife", "spouse", and "partner" all imply being in a particular kind of committed relationship. They're using it humorously for a relationship that's, hopefully, committed, but not in the same way, and it reminds you that they have (or can have) something that you, at the moment, can't have.

I agree wholeheartedly with the points you make in your LJ entry about the flirting. You don't see this situation as all that similar to that, but in my opinion, it is. In the grand scheme of things this is not a very big issue, but there are some power issues at play here that I'd not be entirely comfortable with.

dajt @ 51:

I'm not quite sure why girlfriend is exempted from the "I'm in a relationship with this person" marker when it's uttered by another woman. It's curious, though.

#53 ::: Amanda ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 09:00 PM:

Two coworkers and I went on a 3.5-hour-each-way road trip yesterday for a regional conference. We started in Connecticut and drove through Massachusetts and a bit of New Hampshire before we reached our destination in Maine. And in all those hours on the road, we never once left Legal Same Sex Marriage Land.

I think I'm really starting to like New England...

#54 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 09:57 PM:

KeithS @ 52 ...
I'm not quite sure why girlfriend is exempted from the "I'm in a relationship with this person" marker when it's uttered by another woman. It's curious, though.

I think that's strongly contextual. In most situations I'd generally presume "I'm in a relationship" if "girlfriend" was used by a female (or a male, for that matter).

Then again, I wouldn't usually feel the need to attach a gender specification to friend (be that 'friend' or friend[0])

[0] Eg: "This is my um... 'friend'" ;)

#55 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 10:39 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 32: "A fellow by the name of Martin Luther King pointed out that time, by itself, does nothing. I rather think that he had the right of it."

The other half of that is that "progressive political capital" isn't a limited resource--spending it doesn't necessarily leave you with less. Sometimes, you finish the fight with more capital than you began. Look at the recent presidential election: progressives were never more invigorated than the moment right after Obama won. Look at right now: this thread exists so that we can talk about how chuffed we are.

We should fight for gay marriage now because it is becoming more and more accepted, because the long arc of history bends towards justice. It is a fight that we can win, and by wielding the might of the entire progressive political establishment on it we can win faster and with greater surety, and leave the whole movement the stronger for it.

Madeline Ashby @ 48: "Next time it comes up, ask them if they would ever refer to a close male friend as their "husband." "

I think this runs the risk of pushing them into a defensive mode--people don't like being cast in sexual roles they aren't comfortable with, even rhetorically. It seems to me that a better strategy might be to invoke their empathy. Say "When you joke about having a wife, like the very idea of a woman having a wife is ridiculous to you, it strikes very close to home. Can you please not?"

#56 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 10:44 PM:

I had a moment of recognizing straight privilege recently, when I read this article put up by Pam Spaulding over at Pandagon. When a woman passed out and started seizing, 911 was obviously called and she went to the ER. But her female partner faced pushback the whole time: she got trouble about riding in the ambulance, and a nurse tried to prevent her from staying with her partner as she was being treated. Until a doctor stepped in, she wasn't permitted to be with her.

I read that article just a few days after my own recent experience with going to the ER. From beginning to end, no one questioned Keith's right to be with me. He just followed along where I went. Everyone simply assumed he belonged there. Mostly, I think, they assumed we were married. Either way, they naturally accepted the validity of our relationship, that he should be with me while I was in the hospital.

If they had kept him away from me while I was hurting and scared and didn't know what was going on or how long it would be until someone could help me -- I don't know what I would have done.

Obviously, I recognized this issue before. But having had the experience myself so recently, it was visceral.

This is simply about human rights. I'm glad NH gets it.

I've pretty well decided that in lieu of favors at my wedding, we'll be making a donation to a marriage equality organization. Just have to do some research and decide where it will do the most good. We need to move NC towards equality.

#57 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 11:26 PM:

But if either of us said "my boyfriend"

I can think of only one case in which I've heard the term "boyfriend" used the way a lot of women use "girlfriend", and that was in a song (of which I don't know the real title, but the first line of the chorus is "I'm not here for your entertainment"). The narrator of the song is talking about going out clubbing for the sake of getting drunk and dancing, and the whole thing is addressed to the guys who keep trying to hit on her, the basic message being, "Go away, I'm trying to have a good time." And at one point she says something about "You can say what you want to your boyfriends" about why she turned him down, and in context it's clearly "Your bunch of male friends" rather than "All the guys you're dating".

But even that's a very limited use.

Most of the women I hear refer to their "girlfriends" are at least a few years older than me; I rarely hear anyone my age (33) do it.

#58 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2009, 11:43 PM:

Caroline, this is why when M went to the hospital with her emergency last year (the lumpectomy had caused a blood clot and infection, and it cut loose early in the morning... nothing like hearing someone say, "oh, that's a lot of blood" while you're still half-awake), J and I had a copy of her "legal power of attorney" and etc. that our attorney had us write up and sign.

He covered all the bases, and had us cover all ours (all cars and the house are in triple-ownership, we own everything in joint tenantship). And there are other, lots and lots of forms that specify all kinds of stuff to protect us in case we become debilitated.

The hospital did not give us a "boo" about anything. I'm not sure a smaller town or city may be the same but one would want to hope so. (and the hospital is the first that I've encountered that made sure nutrition was also tasty.. North Kansas City Hospital.)

Just a note. We are a triad, and likely to be so for life at this point. There are issues galore that we had to cover, and that our lawyer was smart enough to ask us about. He gave us sound, thoughtful advice.

#59 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 01:35 AM:

Heather, #47: Yeah, I thought of that after I'd posted. You're right. I also had a semi-amusing incident recently with somebody in Alabama who didn't understand my use of the word "partner" to mean... well, the guy I live with. We're not married, so "husband" is inappropriate, and "boyfriend" sounds sorta high-school, so I've picked up the GLBT usage.

WRT flirting, ohboy, do I get that! What you're complaining about, in essence, is that you and the other person are not playing by the same set of rules. One of the biggest changes that happened when I married my now-ex was that, while I didn't stop flirting casually with other guys at cons, my pattern changed -- instead of flirting with single guys, I flirted with those who were also married or otherwise attached, because I could be reasonably sure that they didn't mean any more by it than I did.

Caroline, #56: A thought: if you have occasion to discuss this with people local to you, it might be useful to say that straight privilege meant that you and Keith were passing as married under those circumstances. Believe me, anyone in NC will get the reference.

Carrie, #57: U + Ur Hand by Pink (warning: lyrics NSFW). It's a very raw and angry song, and does an outstanding job of expressing what it's like to be a young, attractive woman who just wants to go on a Girls' Night Out and have a good time.

#60 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 01:38 AM:

I suspect that there is an element of age involved in the use of boyfriend/girlfriend that may have a lingering taste of sexism, as well, which may or may not be relevant to this discussion. At least, I've heard "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" used when referring to children of the same age-cohort, with no sexual relationship being implied; later in life, in my experience, women continue to have "girlfriends," while men seem to have, or to be, "friends" (and the genders are implicitly even more separated when it comes to the use of "-friend," as someone already has pointed out, I believe). I first realized this as an adult when I found myself referring to "my girlfriend and her husband" and "my friend and his wife." And wondered why I was doing that.

Possibly this difference in terminology has something to do with the tendency to infantilize women, whatever the age--in the same way that unmarried women used to be "miss" no matter how old they were while unmarried males became "mister" (rather than "master") as soon as they hit adolescence? Maybe, at least unconsciously, some young(er) women are trying to establish that the "girlfriend" relationship is, in fact, between adults?

Or maybe (most likely) I'm over analyzing and talking through my hat. But the implications of the way people refer to each other fascinate me . . . and I'd love to have a chance to find out what the general acceptance of same-sex marriage will do the nomenclature.

#61 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 02:15 AM:

Lee @ 59:

"Partner" is also pretty standard British English for significant other. It doesn't go into the nitty-gritty of how you're attached, just that you are.

#62 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 02:40 AM:

xeger (#54): Ah yes, the "umfriend".

#63 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 10:15 AM:

A friend of mine refers to her male, nonrelationship roommate as her husband. A lot of the older people in their apartment building think that they're a sweet young married couple, but she's looking for a woman and he's looking for a man.

I think I do the flirt thing, and for basically the reasons that annoy you, HRJ. I am aware of it-- I'm not an affectionate person most of the time, so I notice when I am-- but it's part of being the only open single person in my group of friends and not having a lot of experience with flirting itself. I've gotten into arguments with family members over this ("You were checking him out!" "I was not! There was a sign I couldn't read." "You were totally checking him out.").

But 'wife'? That means wife. I'm having pedantic tiffs with my mother over whether a couple I know who had a religious ceremony, and thus became Married in my eyes and wives to each other, are still Married now that they have the option to become Legaled and aren't doing it. So it's not always a legally-married thing, but it is a married thing.

#64 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 10:42 AM:

I thought the common practice was to refer to very close friends as brother or sister. How this became husband or wife mystifies me.

#65 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 11:17 AM:


In my (own, limited) experience that particular usage is very unevenly distributed by racial/ethnic subculture. (Translation: in the south, where I grew up, White People Don't Do That - the refrain of my childhood. It's taken me a very long time to begin to understand racial privilege when my earliest experience of whiteness was about all the interesting things White People Don't Do.)

#66 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 12:06 PM:

Thena, #65: Does it help if you think of the "White People Don't Do That" refrain as the price you paid for the privileges conferred on you by whiteness? Hmmm, I'm not phrasing this very well -- what I'm thinking about is the way it's more acceptable for women to do "masculine" things than it is for men to do "feminine" ones, because the privileged aren't supposed to do things which are identified with the not-privileged.

#67 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 12:35 PM:

Thena @ 65 and Lee @ 66:

Think of the "White People Don't Do That" refrain as a combination racist/classist sentiment. If you do that, you're "stooping down to their level", but we're more important/more cultured/more pure/more whatever than those folks over there. It's the same way that a "lady" sticks to painting rather than going to the metal shop and playing with a welder.

If I had to guess, and please do correct me because this is interesting, I'd say that the things that "white people don't do" were minor things that kids like to do. Things like listening to certain kinds of music and so on. It's about instilling socially-appropriate behavior patterns.

The idea is that once you've grown up, you have that little voice in the back of your head that tells you that you don't do what the person you're looking at does, and, by implication, you're superior and they're inferior. Also, perhaps, some of it's lodged in your mind the other way so that "white people don't do that" becomes twisted to "black people aren't supposed to act like white people".

#68 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 01:11 PM:

Thinking about "girlfriend" --

The women in my group of friends don't use it. We might say "I'm going out with the girls." Among ourselves we address each other as "woman" or by name.

I am pretty sure this is because enough of us are attracted to women that "girlfriend" would be way too ambiguous. When someone is likely to bring her romantic-partner girlfriend to dinner with everyone, it starts to feel not only ambiguous, but appropriating (in the same way the above-described use of "wife" feels to me).

The ambiguity led to an amusing scene when one of my friends tried to come out to me by mentioning her girlfriend. I didn't react, because my friends having same-sex partners is not unusual. (Basically I did not realize it was a coming-out moment; I figured she was just mentioning it, assuming I already knew.) She thought my lack of reaction meant that I didn't understand she meant lover, not friend who's a girl. Eventually we got it worked out.

#69 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 06:01 PM:

A lot of the beaders I know use "girlfriend" for each other and I always mentally flinch.

#70 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 10:31 PM:

Boston marriages!

The odd reaction I have to the appropriation of 'wife' for a relation that we are taking to mean 'close female friend' is: to these women, does 'wife' equal 'the person who will listen to you and is always on your side and doesn't boss you around'? Making it distinct from 'husband' and, as very old copies of Ms Magazine used to joke, something everyone would like to have?

(And, late, I agree that it's worth pointing out to the friends. Asking them what it means, at the very least.)

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 11:02 PM:

None of my female friends call me boyfriend, because of the obvious connotations. They stick with 'friend', except for one, who calls me her henchman.

#72 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2009, 11:52 PM:

Serge @ 71 ...
None of my female friends call me boyfriend, because of the obvious connotations. They stick with 'friend', except for one, who calls me her henchman.

That sounds like we really need to find a more ... appropriate ... moniker for you...

#73 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 12:05 AM:

xeger @ 72:

You don't think that "friend" is appropriate for Serge?

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 12:31 AM:

KeithS @ 73... I certainly hope that's not what xeger meant to say. Anyway, calling me "henchman" makes perfect sense: not only does that other lady have plans for world domination as soon as she gets a steady job, but last year I rearranged her appartment's furniture to make more room out of less room.

#75 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 12:33 AM:

KeithS @ 73 ...
You don't think that "friend" is appropriate for Serge?

What name to give
A treasure beyond measure
A whisper from the wind

#76 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 12:38 AM:

KeithS @ 73 ...
You don't think that "friend" is appropriate for Serge?

p.s. I would be rather entertained if -everybody- started referring to Serge by some agreed upon[0], but unusual referrant...
[0] ... although having -everybody- start talking about their "umfriend Serge" would have the joint merits of being confusing and amusing[1]
[1] ... or maybe it's the combination of allergies and mgraine runnig away with me...[2]
[2] ... but to attempt to be clearer, my intent was to imply a humourous moniker, rather than a state (un-friend) that would be untrue...[3]
[3] ... or perhaps I should just stop digging while I'm below ground...

#77 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 12:49 AM:

Serge @ 74:

The only problem I see is that people who aim for world domination tend to have a poor track record when it comes to henchman safety (see any James Bond, Star Wars, or low-budget fantasy film). Then again, I'd be dead chuffed to be called someone's henchman, so it's probably just sour grapes on my part.

xeger @ 76:

The written word can't really convey the different shades of meaning imputed by the length of pause between "um" and "friend". But, yes, "unfriend" would be decidedly untrue.

#78 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 01:06 AM:

Y'all will probably be amused to learn that same-sex marriage is available in The Sims 3.

#79 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 01:15 AM:

"Henchman" made me think of "henge," and thus to the place where I heard the word most recently: NPR's Science Friday yesterday, with a story about "Manhattanhenge."

Twice a year, the sunset lines up with New York City's street grid — making for spectacular views.

#80 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 02:45 AM:

"Henchman" originally meant "groom" which kind of gets us back to square one.

#81 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 04:31 AM:

The only time I've heard friends referred to as spouses, as Heather Rose Jones described, was only a few weeks ago. And it applied to men. A married couple who are some of my most conservative friends were asking their 23-year-old daughter about a weekend she had planned. She told them her fiance was going, but they needed to take her car because there were three. When asked about the third, she responded that her husband-to-be's best friend was also going, "of course he is; I mean, they're married."

Marna Nightingale really hit it on the head for me. For those of us who live in the Benighted 44, Paula and her partners' plan is the best I know of. I have some long-time friends, a male couple here in North Texas who are both 68, who've been together since they were 25. When they were 30, realizing they were accumulating a good bit of real property, they incorporated, and everything of any value they've bought in the ensuing 38 years has been bought in the name of their company, and has a right of survivorship that is ironclad in Texas. Of course, they've called each other "my partner" in public for a long time, and only those who they tell or who choose to see know that it goes much further than business.

I was relatively out in my personal life until I fell in love with someone who wasn't. When we moved in together, he was pretty adamant about not being public about our relationship, and I chose to go along with that, but there are things that couples do in public (or within earshot of the neighbors) that roommates don't. In our second place, the elderly couple next door decided we must be brothers because we "favor one another (as we did), and [we] sure do fight like brothers." That solved a problem, and we were "brothers" henceforward. After we moved from Dallas to a small town, it was particularly helpful, especially since I was in business for myself and he managed a very public business (a truck stop). Half-brothers often have different last names. And when I had my first heart attack, and later when he died of his, no one questioned either of our presence at hospitals, funeral homes, etc.

I knew his best friend knew we weren't related, even though he came into our lives after we got together, so I assumed he knew the nature of our relationship. But after RW died, the friend mentioned to me that he'd always been a little jealous that RW called me "brother" but never applied that to him. I just shook my head and said "who knows?".

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 07:58 AM:

xeger @ 75... I like 'treasure beyond measure', but not even my wife - or maybe especially not my wife - would call me that.

#83 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 08:07 AM:

KeithS @ 77... I'd be dead chuffed to be called someone's henchman, so it's probably just sour grapes on my part.

Not to rub it in, but she even calls me her best henchman. Mind you, talk is cheap, and I bet you that, when the time comes for yearly reviews, Ernst Stavro Blofeld says that to everyone of his henchmen. A raise? Sorry, no raise. Our evil organization suffered a financial setback when that British spy blew up yet another one of our secret bases. Still, to acknowledge the quality of your skills, I am putting in your transfer request to one of our remaining secret bases. You never applied for such a transfer? How strange. Unfortunately, the transfer process can't be stopped and making exceptions to the procedures would lead to KAOS.

#84 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 10:19 AM:

I like "consort." It's better than "significant other," anyway.

The worst option is "POSSLQ" (Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters), which had a brief vogue in the Eighties despite being both unpronounceable and heteronormative.

#85 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 10:35 AM:

Tim Walters (84): Blame POSSLQ on the Census Bureau, which discovered at the 1980 census that there were enough unmarried couples out there that they needed to have a category for them.

(Could that sentence get any more awkward?)

#86 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Mary Aileen, #85: Yes, that was the first census to officially recognize "living in sin". According to my partner (who worked for the Census Bureau in 2000), they now have a category of "unmarried, living with partner" which presumably applies to both same-sex and opposite-sex cohabitation.

#87 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 11:37 AM:

Aww, I always found POSSLQ (pronounced possle-queue) rather charming, although at the moment I can't find my favorite instance of it, a filk of Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." ("You'll live with me, and I with you, and you shall be my POSSLQ.")

#88 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 01:10 PM:

@ Heresiarch: For the record, discretion probably is the better part of valour in this situation. But the situation itself still gets my goat.

(What is the etymology of that phrase, anyway?)

#89 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 01:56 PM:

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands and crystal brooks
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
If you would be my POSSLQ.

You live with me, and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I'll be your friend and so much more;
That's what a POSSLQ is for.

And everything we will confess;
Yes, even to the IRS.
Some day on what we both may earn,
Perhaps we'll file a joint return.
You'll share my pad, my taxes, joint;
You'll share my life - up to a point!
And that you'll be so glad to do,
Because you'll be my POSSLQ.

-- Charles Osgood

#90 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 04:05 PM:

@58 and 81:

Our local independent weekly, a few years ago, did an article on how to approximately reconstruct the legal benefits of marriage for people who couldn't legally marry, or wished not to marry for whatever reason. It's tedious and gets very expensive -- as I'm sure you're well aware.

From the article linked above:

Durham Attorney Sharon Thompson points out, "A heterosexual can spend $50 on a marriage license and all of the sudden hundreds and hundreds of laws apply.

"In order for a same-sex couple to create some of those same protections, it's going to cost them. Wills for an average middle-class couple with some assets could run $1,000, $500 each for all those documents," she says. "But then if you want a property agreement, that's another $1,500. And then if you add on all the parent stuff, you add on several thousand dollars more. So you're looking at $5,000-$10,000 just to create legal protections and a family."

I thought it was a great idea to raise awareness of exactly how many rights and privileges are granted by legal marriage. A lot of people remain clueless about why access to the "piece of paper" is so important.

#91 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 04:07 PM:

("I thought it was a great idea to raise awareness of exactly how many rights and privileges are granted by legal marriage" -- obviously, on top of its being a great idea to give people who can't legally marry the resources to legally protect themselves.)

#92 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 04:57 PM:

Madeline Ashby @88: What is the etymology of that phrase, anyway?

Discretion is the better part of valor
Caution is preferable to rash bravery.

Said by Falstaff in King Henry the Fourth, Part One, by William Shakespeare (and picked up by me from via Google)

As the lady said to her friend exiting a performance of Hamlet, "I don't know what all the fuss is about. All he's done is taken a bunch of familiar phrases and strung them together".

#93 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 05:39 PM:

Rob Rusick (92): I had a very similar reaction when I first read Hamlet. "What are all these cliches doing here? Shakespeare's better than that. --Oh! This is where they came from!"

#94 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 05:50 PM:

Heather @ 30 - I find that use of "wife" surprising, but maybe it's just speech usage change that hasn't gotten to the social/age subgroups I'm in here in Silicon Valley. On the other hand, it's not uncommon for women I know to occasionally say "Arrgh, I need a wife!" in the context of somebody to make them dinner, pick up the kids at school, take the dog to the vet, plan their vacation travel, etc.

I'm fairly used to having to make guesses about whether somebody's using "girlfriend" to refer to someone they're romantically attached to or not, and given the number of people around here who are poly, I've had the occasional conversation where somebody's referring to his wife's girlfriend that I've had to infer from context which kind of girlfriend. But I was puzzled to see a former coworker's social-networking page refer to his wife, with a female name - he'd never used a gender-specific pronoun when referring to his partner in the decade or so we worked together, and I don't know if the guy he was with at one event that I thought he'd introduced as his partner is now transgendered or if they've split up and he's married a woman, or if the "wife" is just a literary fiction for "not looking gay on Linked-In".

#95 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 06:15 PM:

@92 & @93: That was approximately my reaction to the original Star Wars trilogy.

re: terminology, my friends use SO to mean someone they're seeing romantically, but that doesn't imply gender or cohabitation, and "housemate" to mean someone they live with, which doesn't imply gender or romantic involvement. Someone saying they have a "roommate" is a little odd once they're out of college, since to me that implies cohabitation and sleeping in the same room without romantic involvement. Not impossible, but a little odd. Having housemates makes answering eg. census questions a little interesting -- who, exactly, is "head of household"? (Me, apparently, since I was the one who filled out the forms.) The old structures don't map neatly to my situation.

I find the usage of "wife" (or "they're married on Facebook") to mean anything other than the literal truth... problematic. In subcultures I'm in where homosexuality is no big deal or even has some cachet, I'm starting to run into guys who will flirt with other guys for the enjoyment of the girls around without being actually interested, and that's annoying. Most of my friends know I'm bi, so it would be really ambiguous of me to refer to someone as a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" if we weren't actually dating, and it also lends an uncomfortably performative feeling to my own flirting. (To be clear, though, being out has on the whole been a *huge* net positive; certain issues just remain.)

#96 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 07:23 PM:

92 and 93:
on the other hand maybe in some cases it only looks that way. It is possible that some cliches were already cliches in Shakespeare's time and he was simply the first person to write down something that was already commonly spoken.

#97 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 08:57 PM:

Tim@84: In addition to it having a pronunciation (as several posters noted), "POSSLQ" morphed into "PASSLQ"[0], just as some of the purity tests were rewritten in the 80's to use "MOTAS" instead of "MOTOS"

[0] "appropriate"

#98 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 09:30 PM:

Erik Nelson (96): Good point. Unprovable either way, however.

#99 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2009, 11:05 PM:

James Macdonald @ 89: Hey! I just realized--that's not Marlowe's "Passionate Shepherd" being rewritten, that's John Donne's response to Marlowe, "The Bait"! Way cool.

#100 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2009, 12:27 AM:

Hey, Rob, thanks!

As a woman married to man, I refer to my male friends as "buddies." I'd never consider calling them my boyfriend or husband. They have nicknames for me, though. I suppose I should be more inventive, and make up some for them.

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2009, 01:19 AM:

Mary Frances: It could also be from Raleigh's response to Marlowe.

Because it was snarkier than Donne.

#102 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2009, 01:20 AM:

Mary Frances: It could also be from Raleigh's response to Marlowe.

Because it was snarkier than Donne.

#103 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2009, 01:56 AM:

Terry@101:L No, with the referenes to fish-hooks and all, it's definitely Donne's response that's being riffed on, and not Raleigh's (which is the one that begins "If all the world and love were young, and truth in every shepherd's tongue".)

#104 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2009, 01:57 AM:

Drat. At this hour of the night, clearly, I can neither format nor type with anything approaching accuracy.

#105 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2009, 11:02 AM:

Xopher @50: I was being snarky, and I should have said so...

Condi's "slip" in that interview has led to some strange private conjecture on my part. I suspect actually putting my musings in print might be construed as libel.

#106 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2009, 12:37 AM:

One day, there will be a series of commemorative coins issued, like the one recently concluded which honored the states in the order in which they joined the union.

It will name the states of the Union in the order in which they ratified marriage equality.

#107 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2009, 02:12 PM:

my husband's mum says "girlfriend" about her female friends, & it bugs me, although it is so not a bone worth picking. i think it is a generational thing.

i'm a semi-out bisexual, but not to his family, though i try to drop hints. so they at least think i'm a staunch straight ally who will get on their case if they say anything too heterosexist.

i think i'm more physically demonstrative with female friends than male friends because of the whole wrong-idea-getting (in contrast to lee's experience, i am way more wary of guys with girlfriends/wives, cause i don't want to cause strife). but i've also held myself back from physical gestures (towards a straight woman) that i'm sure two straight women wouldn't think twice about, both because for me it means more & because i'm terrified of being a sexual harasser.

i'm out to all my friends, & i've never, to my knowledge, flirted with another queer female friend unless we were both clear on how attracted we were to each other & how far it was allowed to go. (well, ok, there's one relationship where we each weren't sure the other was queer, & i had to consciously push the flirting to what i figured was beyond straight-girl flirting, & then we had "the talk." & now we flirt with intention, if not, alas, proximity.)

#108 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2009, 02:44 PM:

Drag queens sometimes address each other as "girlfriend", and (because I pick up idioms like a sponge) I occasionally find myself using it that way too. However, that's specifically an apostrophe, not a description -- AFAICT they don't refer to another drag queen as "my girlfriend".

#109 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2009, 07:47 PM:

Dr. Psycho @ 106:

So that's where the term "queer money" comes from!

#110 ::: Xopher Halftongue sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 09:56 PM:


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