This is a terribly quick post because I've got a big ol' project to do before Tuesday (yes, classes have started back up, although it seems much less daunting with Leo here... even as he takes up much more of my time!).
Vancouver seems to be a "partner" city, as in:
"My partner and I celebrated our anniversary last week"
"My partner grew up in Victoria."
"Oh! Your partn-- I mean, your husband arrived!"
That last one came from a professor of mine and made me realize how obstinately I cling to the term "Husband" for Leo. I had to think hard about why I prefer this somewhat old fashioned terminology; I did the same thing when Leo was my "Fiancé," too. Both sound so objectively silly!
It's not indicative of any desire to cling to gender roles nor is it a mark of our heterosexual relationship. Besides, when we lived in Massachusetts (where -- hooray! -- gay marriage is legal), I always met women introducing their wives and men talking about their husbands.
Leo has been my "Husband" because it's better than introductions going something like this:
"Hello! I'm Corin. Nice to meet you. This is Leo. He's my [insert coupling term here]. We got married, and don't you dare give me that 'is this for a green card?' bullshit because choosing to be with him has meant the end of the American dream for both of us. Oh, you didn't know that? Well, that green card trick works in movies and Lou Dobbs head, but for the rest of us there's exile. So, yeah. We're fucking serious about one another. Oh, you don't want to meet us anymore? Well, we don't want to make friends with ignorant xenophobes anyhow. Yeah, walk away! Or run! Same to you, asshole!"
That would just have been... unfriendly.
Much better to say "Hi, I'm Corin. This is my husband, Leo."
Problem solved; "Husband" is just less ambiguous. There are already certain implications and connotations layered into the word, most of which are fairly conservative. And even though it might make people think of us as June and Ward Cleaver, it's better than other subconscious judgments to which we have been subjected.
Goodness knows that a lot of folks already struggle to think and speak rationally and respectfully about bi-racial and bi-cultural marriages (see the press tab above for the most recent example); layer "undocumented" on top of that, and you've got a potent mix of subconscious prejudicial inklings just waiting to spill forth in an ill-timed display of ignorance and -isms. Of course, the ensuing conversation involves my Husband's hurt feelings, my awkward white-girl attempts to draw that individual's attention to their privileged presumptuousness, and the individual's offended rantings of "I'm not a racist! How dare you! [insert proof of 'color-blindness' -- usually non-white relation]"
Aaaand that's just shitty for everyone.
But does Leo need to be my "Husband" in Vancouver, where everyone is partnered and no one is whispering rumors about green cards? What does "Husband and Wife" say here that we might not recognize or intend?
It's that lovely, eerie "miracle of normalcy" all over again...
UPDATE: one the subject of the "miracle of normalcy," the SF Chronicle has an article on the difficulties of dating across statuses. Amazingly, they also mention the bar: "Marriage was once seen as a sure-fire ticket to a green card. But many illegal immigrants now need to return to their birth countries to apply for papers and will be barred from returning for a decade unless they get a special waiver." Even though it affects many such relationships, it never seems to make it into print... It would be awfully nice if we could do away with the "illegal" bit, though!