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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

The Marriage Equality Myth


When gay marriage was legalised in the UK there was a lot of rejoicing. The LGBTQAI+ community celebrated. "Equality at last!"


Unfortunately I must disagree. We don't have marriage equality. Not yet. Of course, allowing same sex couples to marry is a wonderful thing, and we should ignore the feeble demands of the Scottish Family Party *spits* to repeal it. No, I'm talking about disabled people having to give up their benefits once they marry or even cohabit.


In the UK, if you are living with a partner they must be earning under £630 a month otherwise they will be deemed able to support you on a single salary. I want you to really look at that figure. My rent alone for a flat big enough for one person is £475. That's without any of my food, utilities, anything else. Literally a place to keep the rain off.


It's not possible for a single salary close to that figure to support two people. To suggest that it is in any way feasible shows an absolute disregard for how expensive it is to live. But we are living under a Tory Government after all, what can we do? VOTE THE BASTARDS OUT THAT'S WHAT YOU CAN DO. But I digress.


Only one disability benefit isn't means tested and that is Personal Independence Payment, however this is not enough to support yourself on. This payment was designed to help disabled people access care and treatments more easily and is paid monthly. Mine is £278 a month but there are various tiers and people are paid according to that. Even at the highest tier though this benefit would not be enough to maintain any sort of independence, and at the highest tiers the need to access extra care would be more precient.


Even if it was feasible, if I were to marry I would have to sacrifice my financial independence. I would be wholly reliant on my partner. I appreciate the assumption I will land a rich spouse somehow, but the real world doesn't work like that. As a disabled person, my independence is everything to me. It's one of the few things in this world I can hold onto and say is really mine. I live on my own, I get by on my own, I do as many things as I can to maintain self reliance. Some things I need support for, true, but that's only to be expected. For me to suddenly not have control of my spending, not have my own funds, it feels like that would be a huge step backwards for me. My financial independence was hard won, I don't want to give it up that easily. It would also negatively impact my mental health.


There's also the worry of what if I've been tricked into an abusive relationship? How would I leave with no resources to my name? I would be trapped in a relationship that would destroy me with no way to escape on my own. This seems extra dangerous when your disability may make you a little more trusting. It's like painting a target on your back.


Less deadly I guess, but there's also the fact that the whole thing seems a bit archaic. Relying on your partner for an income seems very 50s housewife and our world just doesn't work like that. I understand there are those that choose to live like that, and who am I to judge them, but if you're being forced into it it's not ok.


The main thing that's upsetting here is the lack of the ability to choose. When it comes to marriage and living together, most of the time the choice isn't whether you want to or not, but whether you can afford to or not. It killed one of my relationships, and I'm sure this has happened to other people.


If you're unable to work and rely on benefits to live, giving up your only income source to get married is jarring. But so is giving up on a long held dream. I'm sure I'm not the only disabled person out there who dreamed of their wedding day as a child. Even when the rest of my dreams died when I realised I wouldn't cope being CEO of a wildly successful company, or able to work as a teacher or translator, my dream of having that beautiful wedding and settling down to live with the person just for me persisted.


And now, unless the regulations change, it's gone too. I guess that's another dream on the bonfire, because what is disability but grief in all of it's forms? I can hope that one day I will no longer grieve what I can't do and celebrate what I can, but it is a much shorter list and I am not there yet. Nor do I think I will ever get there.

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