Monday, August 24, 2009

Wish/ Expect

A dear friend and colleague of mine got married recently, and I had the pleasure of attending his wedding. Such a handsome groom and stunning bride; I wish them much happiness. But something happened to me in the middle of the ceremony...something that has taken over a week to process. I got red-faced and angry. As the Anglican Priest talked about Genesis, first man, first woman, and the sanctity of marriage, I sat there with my male partner and had to simply eat the fact that we were outsiders at this party. We are not allowed to marry. And for many, we are an abomination.

This is not new. And I am not naive. But you see, this was the first wedding I have attended since Prop 8 and gay marriage heated up the news and pushed the issue further into the public consciousness. And it made my experience quite different. At previous weddings, not only did I accept the "way things are" - it never really occurred to me that they could be different. But now that's not the case. And I realized, sitting there, that I was not okay. In fact, I felt a bit betrayed. And I have to wonder if I will attend another wedding so long as my civil rights are denied me.

Brad Pitt famously said this past spring that he and Angelina Jolie might get married once it is legal for everyone to do so. It was a bold statement. And it is precisely what the gay marriage movement needs: straights to stand in solidarity with us. And really, if a heterosexual couple truly supports full marriage rights, then to maintain absolute integrity, that couple has no business getting married. They can have a spiritual commitment ceremony the way so many a gay couple has done...but to be legally married? No.

Back to my friend. This is someone I care about very much. And in no way do I want to strip him of his happiness or the legal benefits of marriage. But I have to admit - had he and his now wife made a declaration and postponed their wedding until my partner and I also had the right...that would have been cause for great celebration. Do I have less respect for them because they got married? No. But would I have had more respect had they waited? I gulp as I type this...but yes. Absolutely.

In trying to articulate my feelings on this, another friend - this one gay - said to me: "There's a big difference between what we wish for and what we expect. We don't expect our straight loved ones to sacrifice their happiness for our cause...but boy, we wish they would." Exactly.

And I dread the next wedding invitation that comes in the mail. Because I'm really not sure I can do it again.

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