Thursday, September 26, 2013

I've got new legal rights! But, wait a minute...

A lot of people are surprised to learn that my husband and I wanted to get married for 50% romantic reasons and 50% legal reasons. And while I'm happy I now enjoy a few extra legal rights I feel guilty too.

For us, marriage is a legal institution. Living abroad, being married affords you important rights. Like the right to live in the same country as your partner and the ability to put them on your health insurance plan. In a medical emergency it gives you the right to be your partner's advocate. In some countries it gives you tax breaks. In fact, in Malta you get the tax back on all of your wedding expenses!

But then after we got married and everyone kept asking us 'do you feel any different?' I started thinking about what was truly, legally different in our lives.

Assuming a new 'married' identity what would legally change for me? In Malta? In Canada? What if I was to find myself in Saudi Arabia, Denmark, China? Why was it my husband would get more rights than me in some countries? Why was it I enjoyed new rights that non-married people couldn't? What made me more special than them?

Malta has recently enacted co-habitation laws that allow people living together - including brothers and sisters, which I had never considered before - some of the legal rights I mentioned above. It was hailed as a big step forward in giving more rights to people who co-habited in relationships that weren't necessarily romantic. For Malta, on paper, it sounds surprisingly forward thinking. (In reality, it is seriously flawed, but that's another story.)

In a perfect world we would all enjoy the same rights. I think it's unfair that I get more rights than non-married people now. But how could that system change? Eliminate special rights for married people? Give the same rights to non-married people?

What would a legally equal world look like? Where would we draw the lines?

Think about it. Then comment below.


  1. This is an interesting issue. While I've never really felt that I was being treated unfairly for falling into the 'non-married' category {although it is a hassle being an unmarried expat}, I've always felt extremely strongly that non heterosexual couples should enjoy the same rights as married couples. Slowly but surely, I think the world is moving in the right direction :) xxx

    1. Of course, I'm a huge advocate for marriage rights for everyone. (Unfortunately they don't currently exist in Malta.) I know that in my lifetime it will be achieved globally, but I think the next "first world" human rights discussion will centre on cohabitation in all its forms. I'm interested, and I think optimistic, to see how it all turns out.


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