Linds and I are so lucky to have a large community of supportive people who are thrilled for us. We will always be grateful for that. We also remain mindful that even in the more hurtful moments, we are far luckier than many others who can't even come out safely--let alone have a big gay wedding.
We know this. And still. Some of the questions people have asked about our wedding really surprised me. A sample:
"So you're not technically getting married, right?"
"Isn't that actually called a Commitment Ceremony?"
"Why are you having a ceremony if it isn't legal? Why not just have a party?"
What it comes down to, I think, is that many people--even people who are very supportive--seem to have what I've been calling a "lack of imagination" about the different forms a marriage can take.
This is the form ours is taking:
We are getting married here, in Michigan, where there will be no legal recognition of our relationship--as a marriage or a civil union. We are not going out-of-state to acquire a marriage license, because Michigan's constitution has been amended to block any and all recognition of same-sex marriage licenses issued in other states. We are having a marriage ceremony and reception, which we are calling a wedding. It will look very much like other weddings you've been to, except better. (Just kidding. Mostly.) It will be a little bit Jewish, entirely secular, and yes--very much gay.
And here's why we're doing it this way:
"Commitment Ceremony" feels dry and flat to me. It sounds like accepting a job, or signing a contract--but with cake. It feels like we're being thrown a bone. It feels like being picked last.
Linds and I are getting married. Those words, on their own, carry weight. They carry meaning and history. They tie us to our parents, who committed their lives to each other and created families out of that love. They speak to the hugeness (that's right) of the step we are taking together, to intertwine our lives and move through the world together, for always. A marriage ceremony gives us the opportunity to speak to that commitment, out loud, in front of our community. We think that ritual is important, and that marking our marriage with a ceremony is an important part of the accountability our vows will demand. And perhaps most importantly, we think that the power of that ceremony lies in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone there to support us--not in a piece of paper. That certainly doesn't mean that marriage is the only way, or the right way, to signify a committed relationship. But it's what's right for us.
There are two sides (many, actually) to everything, and this is no exception. I've read about couples who are intentionally staying away from language that includes "wedding" and "marriage" because they don't want people to lose sight of the fact that they have been denied the right to legally marry. I completely understand that, and to be honest, I'm a bit surprised that I'm not jumping on that wagon myself. I'm kind of the poster child for the-personal-is-political.
What I've realized while answering these questions is that our choices are political as well. We are smacking our relationship down on the table, right next to the Obama's and the Clinton's and the [insert fleeting celebrity marriage]. We're saying "We're married too." We're making that choice for ourselves, when it's right for us--not when ignorant fools decide to stop comparing it to bestiality, not when the wedding industry decides to give us some visibility, and certainly not when the government decides to recognize it. We will take our lack of tax benefits and lack of protection just like we have taken everything else--together. And when things finally change, which they will, we'll stand in line to get that piece of paper--and it will be a very necessary and long overdue component of our marriage.