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Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’

Tony Richard's photograph of us just as we were pronounced married

My husband and I married one week ago this weekend. We probably won’t know for years what the ceremony and union ultimately signify for us. Immediately, however, we were joined legally. I have the pink, temporary marriage certificate to prove it. 

Since noon last Saturday, I have felt both completely different and exactly the same.

We have been slowly committing to each other throughout the last three and half years. Moving in together in a state neither of us had ever lived in before was a big step. We learned more about each other’s habits and lifestyles. Since we’d been long distance for two years and spent chunks of time essentially living together in each other’s apartment, nothing was shocking. 

For this reason, as I looked into his eyes and we said our vows before our closest friends and family, I knew I was marrying my best friend. Someone I trust, love and know.

When we walked out of the center of the circle as a married couple, I was jubilant. Simply jubilant. I knew that we were not only bound by our emotions, but also by a legal and public commitment. We had made a public vow to care for each other and our union throughout our lives. This vow would be recognized by our government.

I like calling him “my husband.” I like being a part of an institution that allows others to know and understand our relationship without question (of course, if I had taken his surname, this would have been more obvious.) I like that I could be on his health insurance. I like that we can hold hands in public.  

“Society” wanted us to marry. The word “society” is a vague one that often serves as a crutch. However, I think you understand, without labels, who I mean when I write that “society” did not always approve or recognize our relationship when we were living together as an unmarried couple. When we stayed in hotel rooms with one bed. When we accompanied each other to the doctor. We are lucky that our “society” only took it that far, considering what happens in other, less forgiving “societies.” 

We did not marry in order to please this or any other “society.”

We got married because it was important to us to share our vows of love publically and be bound legally.

I recently wrote an essay on this subject and a friend reading it noted that I sounded defensive. Perhaps. I feel compelled to explain myself to those who vote against gay marriage or see marriage as only a religious sacrament instead of a civil right with legal implications. 

For these and related reasons, we asked my husband’s friend Dr. Jonathan Ladd to read this during our ceremony:

Goodridge v. Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health

By Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall

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. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.

 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.

 

We are not the first couple to include part of Chief Justice Marshall’s statement in their ceremony. We will certainly not be the last.

May all consenting adults be allowed to marry and experience our jubilance, publicly and under law.

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The tradition of watching a 3D movie (my first!)

I will be getting married in a dress that is not white and I am not changing my name.

Are we completely shunning tradition? As a family friend pointed out, I was wore a very shiny tiara at my wedding shower. Indeed, we are picking and choosing what makes sense for us while still laughing along the way. 

The tiara was fun – great fun, actually – and we feminists can all enjoy ourselves.

At the shower, I wore black – a fashion choice above all – and didn’t flinch when I was given a pizza cutter and high quality kitchen scissors. There are some traditions that don’t allow the bride to be to use scissors, cut anything with a sharp object or receive anything sharp. Frankly, the gifts are often related to the kitchen and it is hard to avoid all sharp objects. What good luck comes from missing the opportunity for a friend to share her favorite sharp kitchen tool?

Luck, as we know, is what we decide it is. We make things happen. My fiancé and I are making this wedding happen because we love each other and we want to be one, emotionally and legally. 

Do I look down on a more traditional wedding celebration, shower to honeymoon? Of course not. The true beauty of our diverse, contemporary nation is that we can all make our own choices, and those choices can all be celebrated.

What is a “traditional” marriage to me? It is one in which the gender roles are clearly defined. There is a religious aspect to the purpose of the union and the participants follow prescribed rules – clothing choice, names, roles, etc. 

Of course, there are some useful purposes to tradition. My fiancé wrote in the first part of his guest blog  on traditions that they , “help to build connections across time and place.” In the second part, he notes, “A lot of traditions help solve coordination and cooperation problems.” There are reasons to do things in a familiar way that accomplish a certain goal. We’ve thought a lot about this and I encourage you to read his musings.

We are putting a twist on the traditions that we find meaningful. We aren’t the first to do so and we certainly won’t be the last.

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A family friend asked me about the wording on our invitation. We invited guests to our celebrate our “union,” not our “wedding.” Why?

There are two reasons. First, we would want to wait to get married until all couples have the option to get married legally. However, becoming a legal unit is important to us and we’ve found it impossible to wait. By using the word union, as in, a “civil union,” we give a nod towards that fight.

Also, we like the idea of a “union,” over the more traditional “marriage.” The difference does not  only contain the legal rights (without religious implications), but also the meaning of the word. A union brings together two entities as equal parts who become one by choice. 

As writers, academic and creative, words are important to us. We have chosen them carefully for what they mean to us and others.

There is no denying that a marriage offers us, a heterosexual couple, certain legal rights (hospital visitation, shared health insurance, etc.) How is it possible that marriage, or at the very least the rights inherent in a legal marriage, is not available to all couples in our country? 

Do I believe that all couples who have the legal option to get married do so? Of course not. It is a choice.

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Modern LoveSunday’s Modern Love article, Once Political, Now Just Practical, by Sara Sarasohn, went beyond the gay marriage debate and dove into the role of a wife (in the context of feminism and gay marriage.) I enjoyed reading her contemporary and personal response to the 1971, Ms. Magazine essay by Judy Syfers, “Why I Want a Wife.”

If you are married or considering getting married, how do you define your roles?

I sometimes lament the fact my actions and interests are more “feminine” than I expect. (I cook, write poetry and teach. I tend to do many of the chores around the house.) I do not consider myself to be a “traditional” woman, yet, I might be more traditional that I would label myself.  

This morning over breakfast, my fiance’ and I discussed what untraditional things I do or could do if I wanted to. I couldn’t think of something that would fit in that category that I would aspire to doing.

Are we lucky enough to live in an era when everything is open to women? Perhaps everything is an option for women who are lucky enough to have certain educational opportunities, but there are many fields that remain difficult for a woman. I have experienced sexism throughout my career and outside of the home (that’s for another post.) At home, however, I don’t feel pressured into doing anything in particular. I truly enjoy many of the “traditional” things that I do (ok, maybe not dusting.)

Maybe the question is: how does the world see me? I would hate to have my actions suggest to a younger woman that she is required to do the things that I choose to do.

I hope that our post-feminist world, as it is called at times, allows us to make the choices we want to, including those within the more traditional realm.

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