marriage forms: a tech writer’s nightmare/dream

So, now that same-sex marriage is legal in California, they have to re-write all those marriage forms (

The court decision last week that legalized gay marriage in California has created a semantic puzzle with scant time to solve it. With the ruling tentatively set to take effect June 16, state bureaucrats must rapidly rewrite, print and distribute a marriage license application.

The current one-page form uses “bride” and “groom” four times each, and also requires the signatures of an “unmarried man” and an “unmarried woman,” wording that is obviously out of step with the California Supreme Court ruling opening the way for gay marriages.

This is quite interesting. More interesting to me is the conservative appeal to keep the traditional terms “bride” and “groom” on a version of the form:

Tom McClusky, a vice president at the conservative Family Research Council, said the state should maintain two marriage forms, one of which preserves “bride” and “groom.”

“If the definition is seen to be so fluid, where do you stop?” he asked. “I can imagine the discussion in a couple of years of how many people should be included. Why is it wrong for two men and a woman to get married? I don’t want to see the top of THAT wedding cake.”

Massachusetts replaced “bride” and “groom” with “Party A” and “Party B,” which seems like the best approach to me. Marriage a state-sanctioned contract between two people, the legalese of “Party A” and “Party B” makes the most sense to me.

And yes, Mr. McClusky, I would like to see that cake. Primarily because the state should not be defining a family.

This entry was posted in Queer issues and theory, WR327: Technical Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to marriage forms: a tech writer’s nightmare/dream

  1. Ira Socol says:

    Marriage, outside of religion, is contract law and nothing else. It is time for “the state” to stop recognising all “marriages” and come up with a simple structure of “domestic contracts.” Of course the f—ed up health care system in the US is the major part of the problem. “Marriage” is about health insurance. Which is a strange thing to build a moral directive out of.

  2. Reid Parham says:

    Ohhh, that scary slippery slope!

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