This invitation says you’re going to go to city hall, sign a marriage license, and then have a picnic with friends and family? How is that not a marriage?
We’ve decided to call it a civil union.
Where did this idea come from?
Much like Molly, civil unions are a Danish creation of the late 1980s.
But why a civil union?
Legal recognition will make our life easier, and neither of us gets enough opportunities to wear a dress.
In the period leading up to this civil union, should I refer to you as fiancés?
Fiancé is the French word for engaged. Thus guests who agree to refer to the picnic exclusively as “le civil union” (Inspector Clouseau accent optional) may refer to the protagonists as fiancés.
I see you enjoy terminological pedantry. What a cute hobby for a couple to share! Are you engaged?
These ceremonies often involve promises (love, honor, protect, etc.). An engagement is also a promise. We appreciate your laying off the French, but promises to promise are redundant.
Can I ask you something else?
Why would you call it a civil union instead of [my preferred public profession of partnership]?
We considered many terms. “Civil confederacy,” for example, evoked an unfortunate history that we didn’t feel represented us. Ditto for “marriage.” “Civil union” seemed right.
Hold it right there! Marriage is a beautiful tradition of love and commitment and…
Perhaps. But white dresses publicly profess an ideal of virginity that we neither meet nor wish to espouse to impressionable young family members, who might attempt abstinence and significantly increase their chances of a future teen pregnancy. The giving away of the bride by her father makes the generally not cool move of treating people as property.
You guys love treating each other like property! Aren’t you into BDSM and power exchange and all that?
Let’s say maybe. But general principles aside, doing a “scene” in front of our respective grandparents just didn’t seem like an appropriate way to commemorate what is, after all, primarily an agreement to file joint tax returns.