This should be the dawn of a new equality. Stop inadvertently marginalising people.

This is a brief, important plea.

It it truly wonderful news that we now have something approaching equal marriage in the UK. It is brilliant that same sex couples can now marry in England and Wales. It’s disappointing that the details for those in existing Civil Partnerships who want to upgrade/convert to marriage haven’t been figured out yet, and that it throws trans* people under the bus, but still, it’s progress.

So please stop fucking it up by calling it “gay marriage”.

Equal marriage isn’t just for those who identify as lesbian or gay. There are a LOT of other folks who are going to benefit, including those who are bisexual, queer and those who prefer not to self-label at all. [Edited to reflect that there are real issues in the current same-sex marriage legislationthat make it definitely not good for trans* and genderqueer folks, in particular the concept of spousal veto]

Being in a same-sex relationship doesn’t make you gay. I’m a lesbian, my wife is bisexual. Being in a committed same-sex relationship doesn’t change that — that’s like saying someone is asexual when they are not dating. If you insist on calling our marriage “gay” then you are marginalising her, insisting that her identity is defined by our relationship.

That’s not cool.

So please, let’s call this what it is. Equal marriage, which enables same-sex marriage. Or y’know, just marriage. Marriage between people that love each other & want to publicly commit to each other, who no longer need to worry about whether or not they will be denied legal recognition based on their sex, or sexual orientation.

Let’s celebrate equal marriage. But let’s not do so by marginalising even more people. Surely we’ve had enough of that?

[This was originally posted on Medium, but I am self-archiving per the Tao of Tantek]

I grew up bilingual — speaking English at home with my British parents and Afrikaans at school. I can actually speak passable Dutch and German as well. I find it interesting, having moved to Britain, that this is seen as unusual since I had many friends at school who were completely fluent in 6 or 7 different languages. After all, in South Africa we have 11 national languages to choose from!

Growing up in the Western Cape, there were a number of interesting effects of the majority of people speaking multiple languages. For a start, if someone seemed to be struggling in one language, the polite thing for the other person to do was just to swap into their native tongue, where possible. Equally, you quickly learnt that there were some concepts that were just more powerfully described in one language over another. As a result, you’d just use the best terms from the best language available — resulting in a hybrid mish-mash of the different languages.

Personally, this is what I think the true value of multilingualism is. It’s about more than just understanding different words for the same concept — it’s about understanding the different concepts that exist, that possibly cannot even be articulated in your home language. This social bilingualism gives you a base-level understanding of the differences between cultures and an appreciation for the value diversity can bring.