So you thought I was joking when I wrote last year in MercatorNet that the Australian Human Rights Commission had recognized 23 genders. Well I underestimated the number of eligible genders because people are now marrying buildings. You probably thought I was joking too when I mentioned the start of this new style of marriage with the case of the woman who married the Berlin Wall and was devastated when the Wall came down (thanks to the machinations of Reagan, Gorbachev, Thatcher and Pope John Paul 11) and her husband was destroyed. Seriously, I think such marriages have great possibilities.
Last month a Seattle woman married a warehouse, Komo News reports:
Babylonia Aivaz wed a crumbling Capitol Hill warehouse that is slated for demolition.
A beaming bride, a crumbling warehouse – Babylonia Aivaz said it’s a love that will never die, as she exchanged wedding vows with the Seattle building on Sunday.
Aivaz and the 10th and Union [Street] warehouse entered into a self-described ‘gay marriage’ , surrounded by friends singing of love and united against displacement in their neighbourhood by means of new development.
Aivaz told the crowd of approximately 50 people about her relationship with the building, which is slated to be demolished in a week to make way for a new apartment complex.
In December, she said, she and 16 Occupy Seattle activists linked arms and occupied the warehouse to fight against gentrification and for community space. ‘I was transformed by the event’, she said.
Even among the wedding guests, however, there was not perfect harmony:
While the majority of the crowd cheered for the love between the woman and the building, some disagreed with how Aivaz described it as a ‘gay marriage’. ‘With the delicate nature of Washington state and the attempt to legalize gay marriage, I find her saying it’s a gay marriage disrespectful’, said Phoenix Lopez.
Lopez and others who held signs reading ‘This is not a gay marriage’, quietly stood in protest.
‘Her saying it’s a gay marriage sets the community back with Christians and politicians and gives them a chance to say, ‘See, we told you, they’re going to want to marry everything if we give them the opportunity,’ said Johnny McCollum-Blair. ‘Having compassion against something you love, I understand, but to call it a gay union is irresponsible’.’
Aivaz didn’t reflect on the building’s chosen gender, but reiterated the ceremony was in honor of her fight against gentrification. ‘Gentrification is happening’, Aivaz said. ‘It’s a serious issue that affects poor people and especially people of color and this is just the beginning of the fight’
I don’t agree with Phoenix Lopez that this is not a gay marriage. As Babylonia objects to the gentrification, not the feminization of the building, clearly her bride was female.
I am now looking at the possibilities in own life and considering whether it is in my best interests to marry my house. That way I might be able to get a tax deduction or a dependent spouse rebate instead of having to pay rates, and I might get refunds from Medicare and BUPA for the necessary plumbing repairs that crop up from time to time.
My house has never been married before and I am a widow, so we will have no problem getting the “certificate of no impediment” which the Australian government is now providing to gays who want to marry overseas. How can the government deny me such a certificate?
Phoenix Lopez can be reassured it won’t be a gay marriage as I am hetrosexual and my house is quite masculine, but like Babylonia Aivas I am a person of colour (some people have even described me as a colourful character), so the government will be sensitive to accusations of racial discrimination if it denies me that certificate.
Of course I can’t take my much-loved house overseas but why shouldn’t we be eligible to marry right here? I have had a meaningful relationship with my house for over 50 years even though I was married to someone else, and I feel I should regularise the affair. What do you think?
Babette Francis writes from Melbourne, Australia.