Dan Savage got a letter the other day that struck home hard for me:
I’m a straight woman planning a wedding in a no-equality state. Many of my nearest and dearest friends are gay. As I address these invites I can’t help feeling like a schmuck. Doesn’t this suck for you guys on some level? Smiling through weddings for years on end while being shat on by the government? I want to write “SORRY!” all over the invitations I’m sending to my gay friends!…
[C]onsider lifting one of the readings from our friends’ ceremony.
“Marriage is a vital social institution The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”
So touching, so true, and so universal—who could argue with those sentiments? Everyone at the wedding was nodding. The reading continued…
“It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a ‘civil right.’ Without the right to choose to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience.”
After the reading—which was done by a gay friend of the couple—the officiant identified the source: It was from the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in that state.
When The Spouse and I went to get our marriage license in St. Paul, we were asked three questions by the clerk:
- Were we legally eligible to get married to each other? (i.e., not married to someone else)
- Were we mentally competent enough to understand what we were doing?
- Were we one man and one woman?
We had discovered that Minnesota statute prohibited same-sex marriage.
We said “Yes, yes, and yes” and got the license, but by the time we got back to the car she was in tears and I was upset. Neither of us had any idea that such a heinous thing had been codified. If there hadn’t been some urgency to getting married (a whole ‘nother story), we would have seriously considered getting married somewhere where itwas legal.
And now out-of-state conservative interests are spending wads of money to engrave one-man-one-woman-marriage into our state’s constitution.
So, if you’re considering marriage, and want to make a serious impact about just what marriage and civil rights are all about, think about including the above quote in the ceremony, and tell your guests, in lieu of gifts, to make donations of time and money to organizations that are trying to rid us of the Jim Crow laws of the 21st century: