Generally, marriage is a personal choice between two people who wish to spend their future together. The expectation of marrying, moving in and making babies is somewhat outdated, and modern society accepts all varieties of chronological combinations when it comes to children, weddings and co-habitation.
Marriage is clearly a union between two people and of equal significance in the lives of husband and wife. Why is it, then, that this equal importance is not reflected in a marriage certificate? Look at yours if you have one – it records father’s names only. With only the father’s details recorded on such a document, the mother’s details are omitted. In a world in which attitudes and associations towards marriage change, shouldn’t the bureaucratic and anachronistic rules that govern it change too?
Social Changes Regarding Women and Marriage
The fact that women’s roles in society are changing cannot be denied. An increasing number of women are choosing to keep their own surnames- 35% in 2013 compared to only 17% in 2000. Same-sex marriages are legal and women are participating as much as men. Women are occupying high-power, influential job roles (in 2013, women occupied 14.6% of Fortune 500 executive officer positions), proving their abilities to ‘go it alone’. As such, can we really continue to dismiss the importance of the female role to the point of totally omitting a mother’s details on marriage certificates?
Who is leading change?
Various organisations have recently challenged the current requirements for marriage certificates in which mothers are ‘written out of history’. Members of the Telegraph Wonder Woman Group says the exclusion of women from legal documents is a ‘cultural femicide’, as mothers are unrecorded, untraceable and therefore invisible in history.
Such female-supporting organisations believe that the current method of only recording ‘male detail’ on such fundamentally important documents is outdated. Just as couples can choose to keep the bride’s surname, they should also be able to choose to list both their mother’s and father’s details on their certificates, depending on their specific situation and arrangements. Despite the outrage from female support groups on this issue, the Home Office states ‘there are no plans to change the rules’, although it is an issue that they are looking to review in the near future.
If giving birth to someone is not enough to qualify recognition on their offspring’s marriage documents, we’re not sure what is!