Post 2.8 - I Now Pronounce Thee

A Facets Reader asked me to do an article in response to this Op-Ed piece from The New York Times. In a nutshell, the author of this article, Rich Benjamin, advocates an LGBTQ boycott of all heterosexual weddings this summer. Benjamin, a gay man, believes that such a boycott would drive home the point that while the LGBTQ community has allies among heterosexuals, they are not fighting hard enough for marriage equality, and LGBTQ people should not be asked to participate in an event which they are specifically excluded from having themselves as a matter of law in all but five US states and the District of Columbia.

But in my view, the author contradicts himself as the column progresses.

As it happens, the only wedding to which I've been invited this summer is a lesbian one. I am also an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church, specifically to perform marriages for LGBTQ individuals (although I wouldn't discriminate against heterosexuals who asked me). In jurisdictions where same-sex marriages and same-sex unions are legal, I am empowered by the local authorities to officiate the union legally. But that would not stop me from performing a wedding in any other locality, because it isn't all about legal rights.

As the author himself points out, when heterosexuals marry in this day and age, it isn't with an eye toward tax benefits. Heterosexuals marry for love and to establish the beginnings of their family, and to say to their own families and world at-large, this is my mate, my life-partner, the person I want to be with until I die, etc. The legal benefits bestowed upon such legally enjoined couples are those decided by society and codified in our laws.

When LGBTQ people enter into a marriage, it is for the same reasons. They just lack the legal benefits in the majority of the United States thanks to enduring ignorance, bigotry and misplaced religious influence in our secular system.

So when it comes to the ceremony itself, it is about the two people standing up there and taking vows, and as witnesses, we are there because of our affection for one or both individuals -- not because it is legal or not.

Having said that, there are heterosexual couples who have elected not to marry until full marriage equality has been established in the US. Others suggest that LGBTQ individuals should boycott providing professional services to heterosexuals related to wedding planning as a way of increasing visibility. Either of these two solutions would be preferable in my view, as they represent personal conviction and do not directly injure those we care about. In fact, I would further assert that attending a heterosexual wedding with a same-sex partner would do more for visibility and acceptance than choosing to boycott.

Marriage equality is clearly a political battle and emotionally motivated, and I support those advocates completely. But when two of my friends want to get married, it's about them, not the legislature, not the Mormon Church, not a referendum nor proposition put to voters, and not the bigotry of the greater world.

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