April 10, 2013


Tegan & Sara On Marriage Equality: "We’re Getting Closer"

Lindsey Byrnes
Lindsey Byrnes

Sisters Tegan and Sara Quin--currently riding high with a newly pop-oriented sound on their recent album, Heartthrob--are still every bit the outspoken activists they've been for most of their 13-year career. 

That outspokenness includes the currently front-burner issue of marriage equality.

Same-sex marriage increasingly has Americans on its side, with overwhelming support among young people. Although the Quins hail from Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005, they both live in the States--meaning they have a stake in, and an opinion on, the two potentially landmark cases currently facing the Supreme Court. 

Both have long-time girlfriends. Sara is a New York resident, where gay marriage is legal, but Tegan lives in Los Angeles, where for the moment at least, it's not. That could change, depending on how the court decides the case involving the California's Proposition 8. 

Fuse News recently spoke to Tegan & Sara about the future of marriage equality rights and whether they plan on walking down the aisle any time soon.

So ladies, it's been about 9 months since we spoke about this stuff, and in that time these two big, potentially landmark cases have come in front of the Supreme Court. What are your thoughts on the Prop 8 case, which Tegan, could potentially really impact you and your partner?

Tim Mosenfelder
Tim Mosenfelder

Tegan: It's interesting. When all of this came up, I  was really nervous – thinking more grand on a national level and a global level how all of this attention to one case, and to California and to gay marriage – how that would feel as a queer person and also as a Canadian. I was concerned it would drum up so much negativity that I would start to feel bad.

Are you and your Cali friends optimistic about the decision?

Tegan: I think everyone’s really optimistic in California and even outside of California. As a Canadian a lot of my friends are like, “Oh, its gonna be overturned and people will be able to get married really soon.” But I think there is a hesitation to be overly confident, because we were confident the first time around. 

In the 2008 election, we thought it would just be thrown out. It's hard right now. But I feel like things are changing and I feel like this has been a really really big couple of weeks.  I feel like no matter what the decision is and what happens, there’s been this overwhelming, really positive mainstream support of gay marriage. Whether the decision comes down in our favor and California ends up overturning Prop 8 or not, I feel we’re getting closer, closer and closer and I think it's important to really celebrate the small steps which are happening right now that add up to one giant step.

And Sara, obviously you could get married in New York, but thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), you would be denied more than 1,000 federal benefits that straight couples get. Most people seem to think DOMA will be struck down.

Sara: That was the one, when I read the transcripts from the hearings, that I felt the most irate about. And to me, I do feel optimistic because I think it's just injustice, in that case where you’re talking about obviously people not being treated the same. It’s not fair that if you are legally married under the eyes of the law, that you shouldn't have the same benefits as everyone else.

Tegan, you told me last time that you and your partner, even though you could marry in Canada, chose not to until your American friends had the same right.

Shannon Stewart for Fuse
Shannon Stewart for Fuse

Tegan: Yeah, as a gay person, but also as someone who lives in America part-time, I'm really sensitive to this topic. Although marriage equality and gay rights are legal in Canada, it's not in so many states where our friends and family live. And I’m dating an American, so I am definitely sensitive to the topic and I don’t see myself rushing out to get married while so many people that I love – and also so many millions more – don’t have these rights.

And yet neither one of you are necessarily looking to rush down the aisle any time soon?

Tegan: Exactly. I remember us talking last time, about the fact that I’ve never really been a marriage person. Sara and I were raised in a common law household, my mom and stepfather never got married. So it’s strange to have all of this pressure all of a sudden. Everybody’s like, "So, when are you getting married? As soon as Prop 8 turns, are you gonna get down on one knee?" And I'm like, "Don’t pressure me!"

You guys are playing Lollapalooza again this year, and I remember when I saw  you there way back in 2005, it was so hot that Sara, you ended up passing out? 

Sara: I did take a small sit-down, I like to call it. Less of a faint –

Tegan: Sara can’t wait to get back to Lollapalooza and prove she’s not weak.

Sara: Oh, I'm weak! No one’s trying to prove anything about weakness and strength right now. I'm not meant to be in the sun. That was crazy.

Tegan:  I hope this time we play maybe like an hour later. I think we play at like 2 in the afternoon – right in the sun.