Recently, BP and I suffered a broken pipe in the bathroom of our new (to us) house. This has required demolition of much of the shower, loud blowers , insurance negotiations, and so on. The contractor in charge of restoration is a nice young man who has been very patient and helpful.
As we were working on plans with him, he said "Can I ask you a question?"
"What do you call each other? Partners, or…"
Wives, we said. We call each other "wife", which is what our society calls married women. We are wife and wife.
He nodded, and explained. "One of the gay couples I work with, they won't use 'husband'. The one guy said, if one is a husband people think the other one is the wife."
This is very familiar. I have had a number of people (including my own mother!) ask, when I refer to BP as my wife, whether I'm the husband.
No, I say. There is no husband here. We are both women. We are both wives.
Part of straight America has a need to see things as a gender-binary. If there's a girl, there must be a boy. If there's a wife, there must be a husband. They assume that as a lesbian couple we must still fulfill gender-binary roles. They have rude slang for it. Goy and birl. And, it is true that some lesbian couples do recapitulate aspects of those roles (at least superficially), with their own slang, like butch and femme.
But many do not. We do not. BP and I are both happily women, typical suburban professional women of certain age. We like to wear jeans on weekends and we also like to dress up for church. (We don't wear makeup, however, so you can't call us lipstick lesbians ;-)
The assumption that one of us "wears the pants" or "is the husband" is quite tiresome. Ours is not a gender binary relationship. It's a same sex partnership. We both cook, we both clean up. We split up other tasks as needed. I do the laundry. BP handles the power drill and builds things. I do the electrical. She does the mending. We aren't aping gender norms.
And actually we aren't that different to many straight couples we know, particularly younger folks, where both husband and wife have busy careers and have to coordinate to manage the house and do the chores.
I think it is no surprise that many of the opponents of marriage equality believe in "traditional" roles for women. Brian Brown, for example, who is president of NOM (the National Organization for straight-only marriage) has 8 children and a wife who home-schools them. Scratch under the surface of most of the arguments against marriage equality and they are arguments against women's equality.
They blame us, but modern marriage is already de-gendered. Women have equal rights, and are no longer subservient to their husbands.
Complaints about gays changing marriage are missing the point that society has already changed marriage so much that it no longer makes sense to keep Teh Gay out of it.
And so, yes, I have a wife, and so does my wife!