Asexuality May Not Have Direct Legal Issues- And We Don’t Have To

This is a guest post by Captain Heartless, who recently graduated law school and is currently waiting to find out if he passed the bar examination in his home state.

[Content: discrimination, brief mention of corrective rape]

Recently I speculated that one way a movement could be categorized or described is the degree to which it focuses on legal issues. When asked about problems that the asexual community faces, as activists we often seem to feel obligated to focus on legal issues. In doing so, we inevitably end up relying on the Emens paper, and talk about consummation laws with some offhand mentions of employment discrimination. I believe this tendency to try and find legal issues is unnecessary, and may even be harmful.

For example, I find it hard to imagine a court enforcing consummation laws in the present day. Such laws are indicative of the kind of social norms asexuals face, but I’m skeptical that a court would actually inquire in to whether or not a married couple had sex. Instead, they are one of the potential legal problems asexuals might face, but until we hear of it actually happening we should be cautious about what we say. The state of asexual legal scholarship at this moment is so lacking that I don’t think we can do any more than speculate on legal problems asexuals face, and see if anyone chimes in and says “that happened to me”. At this point, we don’t have any reliable means of gathering stories and experiences of the problems asexuals actually face, and we won’t hear about anything unless it happens to negatively affect a particularly vocal blogger or a close friend of one. Whenever any of the legal issues come up in arguments outside the community*, I worry that we may be bringing up problems that turn out to be non-issues, at the expense of emphasizing the many issues we actually know asexuals face.

I suspect we do this because we are modeling ourselves too much off of the (admittedly successful) gay rights movement. We need to stop and think about this- if someone asks about political issues, or even specifically legal issues- we shouldn’t accept the (usually) implicit assumption that a movement doesn’t have “serious” issues unless they can point to a law that oppresses them. And bringing up something that may turn out to be a non-issue (like consummation laws) might cause people to think the other issues are also non-issues. We can easily bring up obvious issues asexuals face- like corrective rape, poor medical services, bullying, harmful social norms and expectations, and so on. We don’t need to cite a law to “prove” that we are really discriminated against; we have the day to day lives of asexuals for that. So until we get some kind of organization or framework for dealing with asexual legal issues, I want to suggest that in media appearances we all resist the temptation to try and find some court battle we can litigate, and instead just bring up the obvious and pressing social issues. We don’t have to be a legal movement, and if we want to develop a legal arm then we should do it carefully and deliberately- and push the social changes first, while the legal remedies play catch up.

——————————————–

In particular, if we want to pursue and push the legal issues, here is what I would do first:

  • Set up an asexual legal referral clinic, probably as an attachment to an ace nonprofit. Basically, get some kind of phone number or email address for people to call if they are asexual and need to be referred to a lawyer near them. This way we can not only help asexuals in legal trouble find lawyers, but we can also start gathering data about what legal needs the asexual community actually has. I doubt it would be get many calls, even if we publicize it well, but it would still be a useful tool.
  • Encourage, or more likely perform, academic legal scholarship on asexuality. This would be easier if we had some data or stories, but generally I’d expect to see issues in areas where omission is a problem (e.g., employment discrimination), where the law could provide a remedy (e.g., possible claims against medical professionals for corrective therapy), and where the law is affected by social expectations (e.g., anything involving discretion or a reasonableness standard). However, without data about what problems we face this will still always be speculation and theory. And we will have to find law reviews willing to publish articles about asexuality.
  • Probably related to the other two issues, but try to build a network or listserv of asexual lawyers (or future lawyers!), and potentially lawyers interested in helping with asexual issues.

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*Note that I’m mostly concerned about the face we put on for outsiders here. Within the community, I’d love to see what people think may be problems- even if it really is just wild speculation- since it’s likely many of us may face legal problems and just don’t conceptualize of them as legal problems yet

 

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
This entry was posted in activism, asexual politics, Guest post. Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Asexuality May Not Have Direct Legal Issues- And We Don’t Have To

  1. luvtheheaven says:

    I think you make a lot of great points. 😉

    I would speculate the biggest legal issues would affect aromantics more than asexuals, although even romantic asexuals might struggle with this issue because successful romantic relationships might be unattainable for some asexuals BECAUSE of their sex-aversion or for other reasons… and in this case, the (indirect) legal problems would be all of the ways that laws favor marriage, which is a romantic institution, and indirectly discriminate against single-for-life folks, whether it be in terms of adoption, tax and/or insurance benefits, or other more subtle ways. But that’s all it is, my speculation.

    I have no idea what laws on the books are hurting asexuals or need to be added or amended to help us. I think your suggestions make sense.

    • notunprepared says:

      Single at Heart (http://blogs.psychcentral.com/single-at-heart/) is a blog written by a psychologist who looks into prejudice and discrimination – including legal discrimination – against single people. There are loads of examples of where single people pay more tax, more for goods and services and other things I can’t recall. Feel free to correct me on this, but I believe asexuals are disproportionately single compared to people of other orientations (there was a survey or a journal article?). So these things effect our community far more than any other orientation. I think that’s a valid argument, although I don’t know enough about any of it to be able to argue that singlism even exists.

      And weren’t there a couple of stories about people getting kicked out of rental properties because of their asexuality?

      • I occasionally hear stories about housing or employment discrimination, but can never track down where they come from or find details. I’d guess it happens, since employers and landlords are people and we know people have tendency to end up hating aces- but as I said we don’t have any organized way of collecting data to know what actually happens.

        • I’ve also tried to find a few concrete examples, but they seem to be unsourced fourth-party “I’ve heard of someone somewhere” accounts, or they reference the MacInnis/Hodson “Intergroup Bias Against Group X” paper, which if I recall, was largely a theoretical “How do you feel about asexuals?” survey, rather than a documentation of actual cases of discrimination.

          There’s also an oft-cited example of adoption discrimination mentioned in Cormier-Otaño’s presentation, but even that is second-hand. I don’t know if he published his survey results or has a more concrete source on that claim.

          I’m pretty sure that DePaulo had several documented cases of unfair workplace treatment of single people in Singled Out, but those aren’t necessarily asexuals.

      • Some of the other examples DePaulo brings up (just on page 1 of Singled Out) are: Inheritance law, hospital visitation, and health care plan memberships. Many of the things she talks about also affect unmarried but coupled people, not just singles, which would increase the proportion of asexuals affected.
        Singled Out is worth a read if you’re interested in that sort of thing. Probably very similar to what she talks about on her blog, but it’s in book form, you can hand and/or throw it at people who don’t understand.

    • I agree with you that the privileged legal status of marriage is probably one of the major legal issues that could affect asexuals. I would like to see a movement pushing for family law reform that opens up many of the legal benefits of marriage to relationships that are not marital and do not want to be marital, in the form described at http://ace-muslim.tumblr.com/post/26099979207/in-order-to-recognize-that-people-can-and-do-rely

      • I’ve always liked that idea. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a difficult reform to push through. Politically, I’m not even sure where to start with something like that.

        • As you mention in a later comment, this used to be more a part of LGBTQ activism (and feminist activism for that matter), but I agree that it’s going to be a much harder task today than it would have been in past decades given the huge emphasis placed on marriage equality in current LGBTQ activism.

          I would also argue that some of the rhetoric used in marriage equality campaigns is very amatonormative and could be taken to imply that aromantic people don’t deserve marriage because we don’t have the right kind of “love”. So it would be very difficult to pivot from those approaches to ones that tend to de-emphasize marriage and talk about the need to support non-romantic and non-sexual relationships.

    • Seth says:

      The marriage issue is one that predates asexual visibility, but I agree that it’s relevant to us, as well as same-sex couples, polyamorous people, and single people in general. The solution I want to see implemented is the disestablishment of marriage: let people form relationships how they please, and hold whatever commitment ceremonies they want, but give no legal status to any of it (except prenups, which have a valid reason for existing and aren’t inherently discriminatory, and should cover poly relationships as well). It’d take a while to replace all the laws and regulations pertaining to marriage with non-discriminatory equivalents, but it should be doable.

      • PurplesShade says:

        Marriage doesn’t just have rights though, it also has responsibilities. I am in favour of more equality, but I like the idea of more modular marriage (or “marriage”) instead of dissolving it. That is, I believe that making it really easy to notarize contractual arrangements between individuals which outline their rights and responsibilities to each other, which IMO preferably would require renewal (rather than the way we do divorce now, I figure re-upping things and having them have an expiry date if not reaffirmed might be better, but that’s just my thoughts) — I suppose it could be compared to when you mentioned “prenups” but generally at this point prenups don’t cover all the things I would think might need to be, like childcare responsibilities for instance.

        The link you provided is decidedly legally focused (which is interesting) but because it is states centric it may not be very applicable outside of it’s immediate context, and this issue of equality for singles is a global one. In my province, the expansion of marriage rights and responsibilities extends to any couples to declare they are a couple, or any peoples found by the province to be in a “marriage like relationship” which is an incredibly broad definition. This is both helpful, and hurtful. It means that marriage rights can be extended to people who are platonicly living together if they so seek them, but also to people not cohabitating but still coparenting (again even if platonic). However it has downsides, because you can be assigned both the rights and responsibilities even without choosing them. Existing laws, such as those to do with government pensions, tend to count people as able to rely monetarily on their “spouse”, and if spouse is extremely broadly defined, that means there are many ways that can screw a person over.
        This is just one example, and it’s one of inequality because spouses are not extensions of the other person (except legally they are), and this one could be fixed, but there may be many more that are not about equality, and even this one can’t be fixed in any simple manner. The laws should be overhauled, but some might stand despite this because they’re there to provide the very benefits we want to allow for relationships in the first place; in which case it’s how we deal with “marriage” that will need to be fixed.
        What I’m saying is that it’s not all benefits being extended when people get married, or here are considered “in a marriage like relationship”, and some of those responsibilities I think should be something we can contractually choose to enter into.
        The best way I can see for that to be the case, is not to dissolve marriage but to make it a choice, but a more open modular one. Easy to access, for everyone.

        • Seth says:

          I could get behind that, and it doesn’t go against disestablishment at all. When I say I want to see marriage disestablished, I mean I want it privatized. I want it to cease being an institution recognized by the government, and to exist only on a ceremonial and contractual basis, because private contracts aren’t discriminatory. It’s only when major third parties (like the government) get involved and start according benefits and enforcing norms that discrimination happens. I don’t see how marriage could be directly recognized by the government and not be discriminatory. I mentioned prenups because they’re the only contractual basis for marriage that we currently have, and I hadn’t given much thought to how they could be extended and improved. It seems that you have, and the suggestions you’ve made look sound to me.

          • PurplesShade says:

            Indeed it doesn’t, and feel free to take what you like of the ideas.
            I myself however am in favour of having government acknowledgement of contracts. I don’t like privatized things, and I think that the government can more effectively enforce the terms of a contact. But then that’s purely from the standpoint that law systems themselves are a part of the government and I would want contracts to be legally recognized so that they can be binding. (So that say one partner died and the company they work for wants to not give the other partner their widow(er)s pension, if it’s legal they can’t deny a persons contractual partner, be they platonic or no, any rights that have been agreed to on a legally binding contract.)
            But that’s mostly for purely practical legally oriented reasons, but also because I’m very socialist, and strongly distrust privatization in general. But that’s me.

          • Seth says:

            I also want the contracts to be legally binding. What’s the point of having a contract if it’s not binding? Perhaps I’ve been phrasing things poorly. I admit I’m not fluent in legalese.

    • Yeah, the marriage issue is one that is definitely relevant, but thankfully there’s already movements and scholarship on that because it affects a lot of different groups.

      I’d add that I think we are affected by most of the legal issues that come up in LGB(T?) activism (that includes marriage- because I think it’s only recently that LGB folks have taken the “lets assimilate to existing marriage law” approach, which I dislike but understand). Thankfully, for those we can probably just attach on to the already existing legal groups/causes/services- and it becomes the same “build alliances/seek inclusion in other LGBT groups” battle that we are used to fighting. And who knows, maybe including asexuals can even help some of those causes with their political optics (given that opponents of LGBT rights often weirdly portray them as sex-obsessed). Although that assumes anti-LGBT folks follow conventional logic.

  2. Ace in Translation says:

    Love this post. You make some really good points!

    As for speculation on possible legal issues, can I add problems with immigration? When applying to obtain a perminent residence status through marriage, there’s the issue of your marriage not looking legitimate to immigration services. And when you’re L/G or B and ace and asking asylum based on the persecution of LGBT people faced in your home country, you’re going to have a problem too, as many (if not all) countries granting asylum based on LGBT status have a very invasive line of inquiry that includes questions on your sexual behavior and desires to verify you’re “really gay”. That is going to be a problem as they’re not going to believe you if your answer boils down to “yeah I’m L/G or B, but not really into that sex thing”.
    Basically: there might be a chance of aces being denied or having more difficulty obtaining perminent residence status when their reasons for immigration are linked to their romantic life (marriage, LGB status).

    • Yeah, I’ve wondered if immigration could be a problem. To add on reasons it could come up, my impression (I know very little about immigration law) is that immigration officials tend to have discretion, and we can guess that at least some of them will have the same instincts that many (anti-ace) people have: that asexuals don’t have problems, and that our relationships “don’t count”. So, as you say, their questioning would then lead them to conclude you don’t need asylum (because you aren’t “really gay”, or just aren’t really at risk), or that your marriage isn’t legitimate.

      As with most of this stuff though, I really have no idea if this happens. I’m just speculating about how things could go wrong without knowing if they ever do.

      • I should clarify: I don’t know if the specific situation I described happens to aces. I do know the “not really gay” thing happens, to anyone seeking asylum on LGBT grounds.

      • Sciatrix says:

        I’ve been planning to write a post on immigrating-by-marriage while ace for some time, but I’ve also wanted to wait until there’s more to say than “We compiled a bunch of paperwork and ‘proof’ of an existing relationship and submitted it, and then we waited for months” before I write it. We haven’t gotten to the interview stage yet, and I actually won’t be interviewing myself because of the type of visa we’re applying for. (My partner will be interviewing alone in Canada.) I will say that we were asked to include “proof of existing relationship” with our initial packet of information, and selected timestamped chat transcripts, photos of both of us in the same place, and ticket stubs to events we attended together seem to be enough to establish that.

        I should note that we have not been open about the fact that both my partner and myself identify as ace, and have made the decision to present both AVEN and the Transyada forums (where we met and became much closer) as “queer interest forums” unless further pressed for detail. As of yet, this has not been difficult to do. The line of questioning seems much more geared towards establishing that both partners really are in a committed relationship than towards pressing them for orientation bona fides, and my impression is that there are currently a lot of same-sex couples coming down the pipe since DOMA came down. I’d rather get through what is already a long and expensive process as quickly and painlessly as possible than set Asexual Legal Precedent, you know?

        In general, the immigration process has been extremely opaque, from my perspective. Each step of the process takes quite a long time, and it’s really not very easy to predict what is “enough.” We did a lot of planning to assemble as formidable a packet as we could–among other things, I photocopied every page of both our passports at one point–but we won’t know any more about how well our case is going for some time. I expect it to go through fine, but you never know.

        It’s certainly possible for immigration officials to ask you really personal questions about your love life, but I believe they’re not actually allowed to ask you about the details of your sex life… so they’ll sometimes ask things like “what side of the bed do you sleep on” or “what color is your spouse’s underwear?” However, not every couple gets asked those questions. (For example, I have a good friend who interviewed together with his wife, and they got asked things like “What made you fall in love with your spouse?” and “Have you discussed having children?” as the most invasive comments they got.)

        Those questions tend to be much more likely if the immigrating person comes from a “high risk” country, which isn’t the case for us, but which does shine a lens onto how immigration is really not equally easy or even necessarily accessible to everyone. I should also note that gossip about the more invasive questions is definitely circulated among people immigrating ahead of time, and, well, we would not be the only people to discuss between ourselves agreed-upon answers to the more invasive stuff that we can predict before anyone has the chance to ask a question.

        • I’d also imagine with regards to what counts as a marriage/relationship (either for consummation laws or immigration), legalizing same sex marriage would de-emphasize sex as a standard for legitimacy of a relationship. The fact of the matter is, even if they could ask about sex- how can they decide what counts as “real” sex when the law already states same sex relationships are legitimate?

          And yeah, with almost any legal issue I’d imagine very few aces actually end up pursuing legal options- even if they could. Because finding a lawyer, litigating a case, and so on are expensive, emotional, and time consuming (and for any ace issue, risky) so it’s really only ever a last resort. Factor in that these issues will only come up if you happen to get a particularly awful anti-ace person reviewing your files, and it starts to seem unlikely this would actually come up unless there happen to be a lot of aces dealing with immigration.

          • Sciatrix says:

            To be fair, I suspect a higher-than-usual proportion of aces wind up in long-distance relationships and possibly international relationships as a result of trying to wind up in a relationship with another ace. That being said, immigration blows, and I can’t imagine that there’s a ton of people going through that process–and I expect most of them are, as I am, simply sidestepping being out.

        • swankivy says:

          The thing about the “high risk country” is right. I asked my sister about it as she is married to a man from Japan while she is a US citizen, and their “interview” was not very invasive. She mentioned exactly that–that Japan isn’t one of the nations the US is particularly worried about people faking their marriage from–and then she said she’s had friends tell her they did get the invasive questions. So there’s that.

  3. Siggy says:

    I remember in one of the workshops I did years ago, there was an LGBT center director attending, and the very first question he asked was about what our legal issues are. When I went to the NGLTF conference last year, one of the big topics was an asexual-inclusive ENDA (which I discussed in one of the posts linked). I think a lot of the demand for legal issues really does come from organized LGBT activism, which is very much geared towards legal changes.

    It may be that even LGBT activists would be better off shifting away from their current legal emphasis. One of the big things LGBT activists worry about is “what’s next?” That is, after marriage equality. Many people, especially straight people, consider marriage equality to be the LGBT issue. In the US, that particular problem will eventually be solved. Will funding then dry up? Will we then live in a post-homophobic world, where people say, “We solved LGBT issues decades ago, why are you still complaining?” Going legal has very scary implications for a social movement, and not something that should be taken lightly.

    Consider what would happen if we were trying to legitimize ourselves to, say, feminist activists, or anti-racist activists. I think we’d place a lot more emphasis on changing social attitudes than changing laws, because that’s what feminists and anti-racists usually emphasize. Note that this doesn’t mean giving up legal activism entirely. It’s just not front and center, it’s not what defines those movements.

    • I definitely agree with everything you’ve said here- and it’s weird, because I find I can probably contribute the most to ace discourse by focusing on legal issues (just based on what I seem to know/spot) but at the same time I want to avoid making them a major issue of ours.

      As a counter(?) point, consider that feminist and anti-racist activists (at least in the US) had legal movements: with the right to vote, and civil rights bills. It’s possible someone could argue that those groups are where they are because they’ve already “gotten over” their legal phase. That or maybe there has to be a baseline level of legal protection before the social norms can be addressed.

      This is one of the arguments I’d make for asexual inclusion in anti-discrimination laws (and maybe even for focusing on that as an issue)- it would let more aces be “out” without worrying about losing their jobs, thereby making changing the social norms easier. In that way, it doesn’t matter if asexuals face employment discrimination- what matters is that we are all (in my opinion, rightfully) afraid of it.

      • Ace in Translation says:

        Can I just add to that, that in the Netherlands, the major legal struggles are already over for LGB people (not trans, though – that’s a different story). Instead, you see that the major LG(b)((t?)) organisations are now focussing on social issues: basically creating safer environments in public spaces like schools and neighborhoods and addressing social discrimination (instead of legal discrimination). In my humble opinion, this focus on social issues and emphasis on campaigning for social acceptance creates opportunities for ace/LGBT alliances. So yeah, though at the moment there’s very little cooperation between the two movements, I think there’s a world of opportunity there.

        • Ace in Translation says:

          What I was trying to say was that, yeah, if there are no legal struggles, equality movements, including the LGBT movement, tend to focus on social norms and acceptance.

      • Pegasus says:

        I agree that a legal phase might be necessary in so much as getting to a position where it is possible to pursue activism. So things like voting rights and participation in the democratic process are maybe necessary, as well as perhaps things like decriminalisation for the LGBT community.

        But I’m not sure that much more of a baseline than that is needed. The fear of employment discrimination is as much a barrier to activism advocating for anti-discrimination laws as it is a barrier to challenging social norms. Laws are easier to change after social norms are changed, and social norms are easier to change after legal barriers to activism are removed. Either approach has risks of recriminations for activists in the early days, so I think it becomes a question of which is most effective (and which is most worth risking losing a job over).

        • Yeah, I think this is what I’d actually agree with. I’m mostly trying to argue the pro-legal side just because I feel like there are arguments to be made (even if I don’t really agree with them). Certainly in the asexuality context, I think the social change focus tends to be better- and the legal issues are more likely to be secondary goals.

      • swankivy says:

        At the recent Asexuality Conference in Canada, on the Leadership panel, David and Sara Beth and I discussed employment discrimination and Sara Beth said she put her ace awareness work on her resume “to show she was doing something,” and stayed unemployed for over a year. She started getting interview requests after she took it off the resume. That could very well have been because of an assumption that people who do activism or social organizing are somehow weirdos or troublemakers, so that would go for any sexuality-based activism, and the David said sometimes he’d get asked about it in interviews and ended up having to talk about that rather than his job skills.

    • Pegasus says:

      There are many LGBTQ activists who don’t believe in the need for fighting for legal rights – instead fighting for social acceptance, challenging norms, anti-bullying etc. Admittedly those activists don’t tend to get much of the big funding so they get overshadowed by the equal-marriage campaigns and such like.
      And I very much tend towards being in that camp, so I’m definitely skeptical of asexuals prioritizing legal rights for the same reasons. If we succeed in raising awareness and acceptance of asexuality within society, as well as challenging the social norms, then that I think is the better way of addressing the social (and legal) issues that asexuals face. Discrimination and equality laws are hard to enforce until society is by and large behind the equality movement – by which point laws aren’t needed so much.

    • epochryphal says:

      Hmm — I find that NGLTF comment very heartening, actually, as it’s my impression that they’ve only recently paid attention to trans legal issues rather than nebulous, unquantifiable “awareness” (not that their speakers were very “aware” at all).

      I agree that hyperfocus on legal battles can lead to an “oh no what next,” but also I think a hyperfocus on social attitudes can become very…complacent, and/or “if we educate people they’ll like us.” It’s still easy to get lost and wonder “what next?”

      Most of all I’d like to see more advocacy in the medical area, I think. Shutting down corrective therapy, informed consent access-to-and-refusal-of reproductive / transitional care (eg hysterectomies), better intake forms and trained staff re: assumptions about sexual activity and risk and orientation, more recourse when doctors fuck up, less psychs/therapists harping on decrease in sex drive as a horrible side effect and instead listening to the patient’s feelings.

      • Siggy says:

        It may be too soon to find the NGLTF thing heartening, because all we did was pass around a memo. I don’t personally know what the reaction to the memo was. See more here.

      • It’s funny, I’ve been wondering if there is any legal side to the problems in the medical community, since I agree that those tend to be the biggest (institutional? non-social? idk) issues. For most of these things, I suspect the solution is basically to lobby/convince the medical community. But maybe it’s possible for the most egregious fuck ups the law could or should have a role? We’d basically have to try to find areas where it’s illegal in analogous, non-ace, circumstances and then try to use those (I feel like a good topic for research would be corrective therapy, legal cases against that, and laws like CA’s that ban such things- and if any of that could provide a remedy for aces).

        • swankivy says:

          Right. Sara Beth often talks about how she saw three or four medical/psychological professionals, basically on a mission to like sex, and not a one of them mentioned asexuality (because they didn’t know about it, I’m sure), and she got medicated with testosterone supplements for a year. I told someone I know about this and she said it happened to her too and ended up modifying her voice in a way she ended up uncomfortable with.

    • Siggy says:

      I had also been thinking that there are some cases where social movements might be better off being more about legal change and less about social change. For example, the internet social justice community is not very effective at fighting for economic justice, because economic justice is best fought through policy changes. That’s just my opinion, but I’m using this example to show that I don’t always think that social activism is better than legal activism, it’s just that I think it’s better in the case of asexuality.

      • Legal change might also be better in the face of issues where social change is stopped by certain barriers. I think there is something incredibly helpful for social change about 1) being able to establish a reputation or relationship and then “come out”, and 2) have the disadvantages of the issue in question frequently and unexpectedly (from the point of view of opponents) fall upon loved ones or family members.

  4. When I was reviewing the comments on the HuffPo articles, there were a lot of people who DEMANDED that we face legal issues before we could be considered legitimate and worthy of discussion. I found that to be a very odd requirement, because it implies that once those legal issues are resolved, there’s no reason to have any kind of identification of that type anymore. It’s like saying that since gay marriage is legal in this state now, that there aren’t any gay people here anymore.

    On top of that, they often specifically demanded that we face the exact same legal issues that other groups face. Why should we? Our problems are not going to look exactly like their problems. There will be similarities in some areas, but there’s going to be a whole lot of difference.

    What about divorce laws? Would “My ex didn’t put out enough” be something that could change the divorce settlement?

    On the discussion of immigration, I did have a personal experience along similar lines. I don’t think my case rises to the level of discrimination, but it really felt like it was on the border of invasiveness and inappropriateness.

    A couple of years ago, I went to visit Canada. At the border, I was sent inside the office for additional screening. I think they were grilling everyone extra hard that day (It took 15 minutes to get two cars through the gate, normally it’s under a minute per car), but I think I only saw single males being sent inside for extra questioning. Some of the questions were fairly standard: Where are you going, why are you here, do you have enough money for the trip, and so on. But one line of questioning felt like it was going too far:

    “Are you meeting anyone?”
    “Why are you travelling alone?”
    “Are you sure you’re not meeting anyone?”
    “Why don’t you have a wife or girlfriend?”

    Why don’t I have a wife or girlfriend? How is that any of your business, Mr. Customs Guy? How am I supposed to answer that? Are they actually going to deny someone entry on the basis of that question?

    I didn’t know about asexuality at the time, but what if I had? Is that what I would have answered? Where would that have driven the questioning? Would talking about that get me denied?

    In the end, they let me in and I had a wonderful trip (alone) through the Rockies. But that experience stuck with me. Have they ever refused entry on that basis? Would the American side refuse entry on that basis?

    • Re: the demand for legal discrimination in HuffPo, also note that if we did face legal problems that were identical to everyone else they would then say “that doesn’t count, it’s really because you are mistaken as ____”. And note the incredibly disturbing implication that not being able to marry is worse than corrective rape (because one is legal, the other isn’t). I don’t usually like to play the “oppression A is worse than oppression B” game, but I think that’s a bad sign.

      Re: divorce: This isn’t legal advice because I don’t know family law*, but I’m under the impression most divorces in the US are no-fault, so I’m not sure it would matter.

      *In case anyone is wondering, nothing I say anywhere online is meant is legal advice, so this is basically a disclaimer I’m putting everywhere to try and make sure no one actually relies on any of this. If you (anyone reading this or anything else I write online) think you have a legal problem you should ask a lawyer and not rely on vague and uncertain internet comments.

  5. Sara K. says:

    I agree that deinstitutionalizing marriage would be helpful to aces/aros, just as it would help other groups.

    With regards to income taxes in the USA, sometimes there is an advantage for married people, and sometimes there is an advantage for non-married people, largely because US tax law is too complicated and changes every year (though one of my tax teachers pointed out that ‘married filing separately’ generally gets the worst deals, which I guess implies that tax laws discrimiate against legally separated married couples more than single people). Personally, I think that US income taxes need to be simplified a lot, and ideally end the distinction between married and non-married people during the simplification.

  6. photobombing_unicorn says:

    De-lurking to say that there has been a messy divorce in France where a man was fined for failing to provide enough sex (although note he is not identified as being ace). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8741895/Frenchman-ordered-to-pay-wife-damages-for-lack-of-sex.html

    • Interesting. I know nothing of French law but that seems to be a situation with a Judge deciding that marriage necessarily implies sex. It makes sense that that’s how anti-ace stuff would arise- someone’s ideas of what counts as a “legitimate” relationship basically ending up in their interpretation of the law. That particular conclusion seems draconian though, and would have bad implications for various feminist causes as well as ace ones.

  7. Isriddari says:

    Another lurker here just to add that I stumbled upon a listing for a discussion titled “Asexuality and the Law” being held at Harvard:
    http://bgltq.fas.harvard.edu/event/asexuality-and-law
    It seems that this short talk may not talk exclusively about asexuality but it might be interesting to find out what topics they bring up.

  8. Jasmine says:

    This post is quite interesting; when we look at discrimination, the three factors we focus in on are legal, political and social. Quite often, legal issues are the ones that are absolved before the rest, which of course ties in quite strongly with political issues as well. It’s the social issues that most modern day activists tend to focus on, at least in the UK (legal issues in America are still, I believe, prominent). Feminism for example, isn’t overly focused on the law, but rather the other two factors, predominantly social. So to think that you need to justify discrimination merely by looking at the law, is an incorrect and rather a harmful view to take. I find that it often originates from privileged groups; men see women as equal in the law, and don’t look beyond that (of course I’m generalizing here), whites see that there is a black president and claim racism no longer exists, straights see that same-sex couples can now get married and they think homophobia is non-existent. Just looking at one of these factors, in this case legal, does not give us an accurate representation of oppression or discrimination.

    Interestingly enough, as per the examples given above, I’ve found that groundwork in one of these factors, such as legal, will often be used to denounce further work for equality in political, and in most cases, social factors. I definitely think that the fact asexuals have no clear legal discrimination, there are many people who would use that against them, in a way to deny their work towards social and political equality.

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