Mr. Taco and I have an appointment at SF City Hall to get a marriage license. It only takes $98, some identification, and 30 minutes in a magical place where wonderful and not-so-wonderful things have happened. Beforehand, you download the form and fill out the particulars, including your new married name. It’s pretty straightforward so far, but I have yet to stand in what is surely a DMV-style waiting room.
(For the record, I will be First Name ”“ Maiden Name as Middle ”“ Married Name as Last. I’ll nonetheless go by all three, instead of pretending my middle name doesn’t exist. Sadly, none of these is actually “Taco”.)
I addressed the idea of marriage bans in a previous post. Now, I’ve been considering another seemingly odd aspect of the marriage thing: the idea that everyone who does it legally needs a license to do so.
A license is a legal document that gives you permission to do something. Yadda yadda yadda. I get why we need most of them. My drivers’ ed teacher drilled it into our heads at 15: driving is a privilege, not a right. So, you take tests and swear that when you get behind the wheel of your two-ton vehicle, you’ll do your best not to harm anyone. It doesn’t mean people don’t break the rules, but I like the idea of drivers being vetted before they take to the streets.
Skilled professionals like doctors and engineers need them, and that makes perfect sense. That way, us unlicensed nonprofessionals know that Doc probably won’t kill us with whatever’s in that syringe. They’re vetted by whatever board approves their skills, and I like that, too.
So, who exactly is vetting you when you get this marriage license? And what “skills” are they vetting? Once you have a license, it doesn’t mean you’re bound to love your spouse or even be good at doing that. It doesn’t force you to share bank accounts, secrets, hopes, and fears, nor does it bound you to have children or even share an address (I think). It doesn’t even mean joint filing on your taxes, thanks to that nifty married-filing-separately option.
It’ll definitely be exciting, new, and wonderful to have a marriage license, because it’s one step closer to the fun part. But the legalese surrounding marriage still makes me wonder.
What about you?