The release of Badhaai Do has definitely created more conversation and understanding around the concept of lavender marriages. Though unfortunately, the arrangement was invented to avoid public shame and scrutiny that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.
Which is why, we think this Reddit AMA started by a person in a lavender marriage seems like a great way to learn more about the topic. According to the post, the OP agreed to marry his long-time lesbian friend who is in the armed forced of America for the U.S. army benefits (but also as a kind gesture).
And here are all the questions people asked the Redditor.
1. How do you benefit from this arrangement?
“Full military health benefits. EDIT: Theoretically. I haven’t used them yet.”
2. I’ve always wondered about the specifics of this arrangement. Have you two talked about what happens if/ when one of you meets a long term partner they want to marry? How have your significant others reacted? I imagine it’s much more accepted in the homosexual community than in the straight one. Did she pick you or did you offer? How did the whole thing come about? Is the marriage just to appear like a “normal” couple, or were there other considerations? Are there advantages that either of you get out of being legally married? Finally, you mentioned that your family didn’t react well. Does hers know? Is the area you live very conservative?
“If we decided to split up, we’d file for a separation and uncontested divorce in a non-community property state. My girlfriend doesn’t care, she knows my reasons for doing it, as does my wife’s SO. She called me up one day with the idea. The original proposition was essentially a trade: The ability to collect BAH for off-post housing for her and her girlfriend, Military health benefits for me. I haven’t actually used the benefits yet. The ideas of the marriage were twofold. 1) For her CO, who was suspicious 2) Answered above. Her family knew me from when we were younger, and apparently took it just fine when she told them, I wasn’t there. We grew up in Republican-land. I think my mom and I are the only two registered democrats in the whole city I kid I kid.”
3. Will the removal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy have any affect on your relationship to her?
“Not really, because it still doesn’t negate the lack of gays to marry and gain the same benefits that straight people enjoy.”
4. Have you two ever fooled around?
“I figured somebody would ask. Yes, we did fool around in high school, and though it was one of the more awkward sexual experiences of my life–consummated the marriage.”
5. So, what is the most difficult thing about the lavender marriage from your experience?
“Well, as I said, I wasn’t with anybody when we got married. So the aloneness sort of hit around that time. I’m married, but she’s doing her own thing and I’m sort of left holding the bag. But I eventually pulled myself out of the rut and I’ve been with my current girlfriend for over a year. And well… not to mention having to jump through all of these hoops just because of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and the lack of ability for gays and lesbians to get married in this country. Rant over.”
6. How did you bring this up with your current girlfriend? What does she think of the situation?
“After a couple of dates, I casually brought it up in conversation. She had actually met my wife before, so I just sort of mentioned that all was not as it seemed. She took it pretty well, and there weren’t any religious or moral objections to us misusing the institution of marriage. There’s completely no problem now though. I mean, realistically, I only see my wife maybe a couple of times a year at most, so it’s not like an elephant in the room 24/7.”
7. Do you think, sometimes, that it’s going to end up like a storybook, “Nothing ever worked out for either of us with anyone else so we stayed together and lived happily ever after”? I’m not sure why I’m asking, it’s just the first thing that popped into my head. No matter. Congratulations on being a decent human being. =]
“It was a favor for a friend. I had no serious love interest at the time and it really had no personal cost to me so we went forward with it.”
8. Did you two have some sort of pre-nup to guarantee this, or is it just based on trust?
“Yes, we did draw up a pre-nuptial with the JAG office. Also, we agreed to only get divorced (if ever) in a non-community property state.”
9. What are military health benefits like? Good? Bad? Terrible?
“You know, I haven’t taken advantage of them yet. Theoretically with our tricare plan I can still go to my original doctor OR go to one on any Army installation nationwide. There are a lot of people who consider Military health benefits to be the best in the world.”
10. Do you two live in the same house when she’s in the country? If she dies on her tour overseas, are you entitled to any compensation?
“When she’s on leave she usually stays with her parents or siblings. In reality, we see each other in the flesh only about twice a year. I’m legally her next of kin, though we set it up so that her parents are compensated.”
11. Just some clarification for myself (and maybe others). So you two are legally married, but almost no one is aware of this and she’s not using it as a front to appear straight? This is just strictly for the benefits?
“Yes. The reason we’re keeping it semi-secret is because of the tabooness surrounding marriages of convenience–specifically speaking in terms of BAH fraud. I’ve gotten the impression that the government looks down more upon soldiers marrying in order to allow immigrants to gain citizenship. We’re just misusing BAH funds to pay for rent for her and her girlfriend. I have no idea if it’s strictly legal or not.”
Perhaps what ultimately counts, is their happiness.