Wednesday, July 9

I D-D-D-D-Do - Ben, when you do get married to Kevin, can we devote a special page on our website to the ceremony, like the Discount Blogger?

Seriously, though, I wanted to get back to your posting last week about gay nuptuals. Specifically, you asked whether I thought it was a good idea to elope for the ceremony, but bring in all the friends and relatives for a delayed "reception" back home. I don't, and here's why.

Marriage is a contract between two people to support and care for each other until in death do they part. In situations where children are or could be involved, it is also a covenant to work together to protect and provide for those youngsters until they are able to fend for themselves in this world -- these days, something like 25-30 years down the road. Like many legal contracts, the act of entering into marriage is meant to be witnessed. It is true that no marriage is valid without a very important witness -- a government functionary. Depending on your beliefs, you probably also consider God to be a required participant. But beyond that, I think it is vitally important that a wedding be witnessed by as many of your friends and family as possible.

The declarations inherent in the vows should be public, because your audience is not merely a bunch of passive observers. Frequently overlooked is the fact that the spouses-to-be are not the only parties making a promise during the service. The congregation also agree, as part of the litany, to support the marriage. Maybe I'm a sap for caring about such things, but I believe the ceremonial aspects surrounding all of these vows shouldn't be downplayed. Regardless of your spirituality (something that does play an important role for most people), these open declarations, by each of the spouses as well as the community of friends and family, add so much to the meaning of the event. The acclamation and celebration give the marriage a boost that will serve the partners long into the future.

Yes, your wedding can certainly occur in front of a justice of the peace with canned organ music -- but you're cheating yourself out of the best -- maybe essential -- parts. Consider the long view: How many young couples-in-love really think all the marriage hullaballoo is necessary? And how many old marrieds -- twenty-five years down the road -- are sorry they went through with it? There ya go.

I guess my feelings on these issues make me less concerned than some activists about whether we ever actually do get gay marriage in this country. Sure, I care about equality under the law. But before any of us march and protest for all the governmental benefits conferred on married couples, I'd like to see a few more take the public route of declaring our responsibilities to each other -- obligations we have every power to perform regardless of state sanction.