I so don’t want to get involved in Discourse but this was just weird

I went and wrote this as if it was a direct response to this thing on Tumblr, and I don’t feel up to editing it to be non-direct but here’s a bit of context at least.

There was a post about discrimination against aces, with the general theme that there hasn’t really been any discrimination against aces specifically, in history. One of the examples the author put forward as “things that look anti-ace but aren’t about aces” was the idea that “consummation” sex is necessary for a marriage to be valid. They then mentioned some situations in which that idea has been applied, and one of them was marriage and immigration/citizenship.

For the sake of argument I’m assuming that there actually is such a rule, I have no idea if there actually is one and after writing this whole thing it occurred to me that there might not be, but whatever.

tl;dr there are more things in the world than eventual practical material effects, laws have spirits as well as letters, and things that aren’t specifically Intended to harm This Group In Particular can still harm that group in particular.


I want to talk about this thing with marriage and citizenship, specifically about the idea that when a person uses their marital status to gain citizenship, it’s an exchange with their spouse in which they’re receiving citizenship in exchange for sex.

Because obviously that is a thing that happens, but this situation– where two people who otherwise have no relationship with each other, get married solely because one of them wants citizenship– is (in theory, at least) the opposite of what the consummation rule is about. It’s what the consummation rule is trying to prevent.

The thing is, the citizen in this exchange doesn’t actually have the power to give citizenship in exchange for sex or anything else. The “exchange” gets acted out in this way because of how the government regulates who it gives citizenship to.

The reason we have a consummation rule in relation to citizenship is because we have a rule about marriage in relation to citizenship. The idea behind this rule is that people who have romantic or family relationships with each other deserve to be able to live together, that separating a person from their family is emotionally harmful to them and morally wrong. So a non-citizen who has a citizen spouse or other family member is given priority over other applicants for citizenship (and other kinds of legal residency but let’s just lump it all under “citizenship” for this discussion), to make it easier for them to stay with their family.

The reason we have a consummation rule on top of that is because of the idea that a “real” marriage- a real emotional relationship that would make separation harmful- involves more than just the signing of a marriage license that creates a legally-recognized marriage. Getting a marriage license is a fairly quick and easy process. It would be easy, goes the idea, for two random people who have no actual desire to live with each other, to go down to the courthouse, sign their names, and suddenly be eligible for preferential treatment that they don’t deserve or need. (At least in the eyes of the people making these rules, they don’t need it, because whatever reason they have for wanting citizenship, it’s not because of their marriage.)

The consummation rule is supposed to prevent this. It’s designed on the assumption that people might agree to a “fake” marriage to get citizenship, but they’d draw the line at a “fake” sexual relationship. Obviously this is not the case and some people do end up in situations where they want citizenship so badly that they agree to have sex to get it, and any citizen who’d agree to “help” them in this way is probably a very unscrupulous person and it’s not good that this happens. But like. The intention of the rule was not to encourage people to pay sex, get citizenship. The intention was that people would not do that.

Why does the government think you can use sex to tell the difference between a “real” marriage and a “just because it’ll get me citizenship” marriage? Because it’s culturally assumed that people won’t have sex without a romantic/emotional component to their relationship, and it’s also assumed that people who have a “real” marriage and/or romantic relationship will perforce have sex with each other.

So no, of course the consummation rule isn’t aimed at aces, but it does/would affect aces dealing with these regulations, and it’s based on cultural ideas that affect how people are treated in lots of other situations besides this one very specific one.


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