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Marraige Is Not An Equal Right (just yet)


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Since we’ve gotten engaged, I’ve found it personally upsetting that we are getting married in a country where our gay friends still can’t legally get hitched. This has always been a issue I cared deeply about, but I was a little blindsided by how personal it suddenly became. Now, David and I are not those heterosexual couples that have decided to wait to get married till everyone can get married (clearly). We think there are more practical ways to fight for that kind of equality. But it bothers us both. We feel a little like we are crossing a picket line. Part of our more intense then expected feelings probably stem from the fact that we happen attend a LGBT focused synagogue here in SF. We know that when we get called to the Torah the Friday before our wedding, we’ll be standing in front of our community, the vast majority of whom don’t have the right to the legal, financial, and cultural benefits we are about to receive. And that just sucks.

So, we are trying to figure out how we want to deal with this during our wedding. We want to find a way to address this issue without getting too preachy about it. I tend to feel that a wedding is not the right place to drag out my soapbox and climb up onto it. So we are weighing options. We might put a small statement in the program. We’ve heard of people incorporating a reading from the Massachusetts Marriage Law into the ceremony, but its not super poetic, and it feels a little heavy handed for me. Ariel of Offbeat Bride handed off her bouquet to her lesbian aunts, but we don’t have any lesbian aunts!

What do you think internets? Does this bother anyone else? Has anyone come up with a good (and poetic) way to handle this issue? I’m all ears. And for those of you that live in countries with better laws, Mazel Tov. You don’t know what you’re missing.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11597736474722027874 Ms. Green

    This definitely bothers me, although we’re getting married in Massachusetts, so it’s a little different because same-sex couples can marry there. I considered somehow linking HRC’s “million for marriage” petition (www.millionformarriage.org) to our wedding website or putting a page in our program that allowed people to sign the petition and drop it off somewhere after the service so we could send them all in for those who chose to sign it. Alternatively, you could make a donation in honor of your marriage and state your reasons for doing so. I’m interested to know how others are approaching the situation!

  • http://www.afarmfreshwedding.blogspot.com cdm

    I like the idea of putting a statement in your program (this not worded to the best…but something like “we are so happy to be getting married, and can’t wait for the day when this is possible for everyone”). It’s light, but gets your point across.
    The link to the marriage petition is great! I’m glad to see someone else is addressing this too!

  • Anonymous

    I work for a non-profit, and for our wedding, instead of favors, we are giving “tokens” that let people know that a donation has been made in their name to the organization. This same idea could work for you, and the donation could go to a LGBT organization and you could add information about the organization, or specifically about marriage equality, to the tokens…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18209533406055486161 Rachel

    I have no really good ideas for you about how to reference this issue in your wedding. It’s a tricky one – I think the others here have great advice. Sorry.

    Maybe you should ask someone who is gay or lesbian at your church – see if they have any ideas.

    This issue does bug me though too. I don’t think we should be the ones judging, especially since we are a country of freedom of religion. I can understand a particular church not wanting to perform the ceremony, but our government should recognize same sex partnerships just as they do marriages.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04215257716156502444 Beck_swims

    I am still working on ideas, but I have some lesbian cousins I am willing to loan you.
    I am very glad you brought this up.

  • Anonymous

    Our officiant is actually a very good friend who is gay. He’s my best friend’s partner and was just the perfect choice for the person that would officiate for us. However, I did feel a bit sensitive asking him in light of the fact that he couldn’t actually get married to my best friend if they chose to. He’s thrilled to be doing the ceremony, but it’s something I probably will bring up with him to let him know that I acknowledge the irony of the situation. I agree that something in the program is a great idea too.

  • elizabeth.

    i’ve been thinking about this too! i was considering making a donation in our wedding’s name and letting people know about it, but i’m not exactly sure what organization. i think that’s my best option now: it’s not too preachy, but it does make the issue part of the day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17269718057095997093 Amy H.

    We are in the same position . . . I’m glad we’ll be married in a church that does hold same-sex weddings — but that doesn’t make up for the fact that it’s still not legal in California or the United States generally. I am still thinking of using part of the Goodridge decision as one reading and having a page on marriage equality on our wedsite, with link to the HRC Marriage Equality project and NCLR, etc. I like the program idea from cdm as well! On additional thing we’re planning to do is to have framed wedding photos from family and friends around as decoration, and we’ll mix in framed photos of couples that got married at SF City Hall during the Winter of Love. . . .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17572133516556386284 *Michelle

    Not to tell you you need to poll everyone to make a decision for your wedding, but it might be best to ask some of your LGBT friends what they think. Beware that they might not want that to be brought up. It COULD end up being like telling a single girl that “she’ll find her love eventually”. Nice thought, but make sure it will be received the way you want meant it to be, and not a salt in the wound type of thing.

    If you don’t actually want to ask people you personally know, there are a couple gay couples marrying in Canada on WeddingBee who would probably have a good perspective for you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13811559996670448379 Emily Takes Photos

    I just saw something on the news that California legalized same-sex marriages, and the first thing I thought was WOOHOO! and the second thing I thought of was this blog entry! So I thought I’d pass on this info.

    PS: Love the blog, think you’re great, blah blah blah, couldn’t agree more.

  • Lara

    We’re in IL and it’s definitely a concern for us. We’ve waited 8 years by the wedding it will be just about 9. Here’s the thing. We’re not going to sign a license. It’s just too important to us. We are consulting alternativestomarriage.org to create an estate plan. We’ve considered having a honeymoon in CA and going to get a CA marriage license, but that honestly doesn’t feel quite right either.

    We are in the same boat, we do not want to be preachy. We consider this a real marriage because it means more to us then we could ever describe to share this ceremony with friends and family. The idea that we’re thinking of is having donations to HRC and alternativestomarriage.org on our registry, but we’re only a week into our engagement so I’m thinking we may come up with more creative ways.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18322614204354706684 Amelia

    I know this has since changed and then unchanged in California, but it still resonates for me. I got engaged the day before the oral arguments on Prop 8, and I spent much of that Friday weeping because I was SO HAPPY and it was tearing me up that other people were getting their marriages torn apart and wouldn’t get to feel that joyous soul-tickling feeling of engagement, either.

    Did you ever figure out a way to honor your equality beliefs? I’m thinking about inserting a line into our vows about how marriage is a human right. Because, damn, I believe that as much as I believe in our love and committment.

  • Shahar

    Hello from the “holy land” of Israel!
    I know, I’m a couple of years behind, but I’m still really enjoying reading your blog! (By the way, I got married 5 months ago, and started reading wedding blogs just now. I’m doing everything the other way around…).
    Anyway, back to the subject, I thought I’d tell you that your problems (which by this time are already solved! Hurray!) are what we call “problems of the rich”. Here in Israel the situation is really much much worse!
    The only kind of marriage the Jewish state of Israel accepts is an orthodox marriage. If you’re Muslim, you can have a Muslim-orthodox wedding, and if you’re Christian you can have a Christian wedding, but if you’re some other kind of religious, or god forbid non-religious, you can either pretend or give the whole thing up. Assuming you are probably conservative (I heard most Americans are), you would not be able to get married in Israel by your own beliefs.
    It doesn’t end here. The civil registry of Israel has a religion for every citizen. Which means, if you are Jewish, you cannot get married in a church, unless you officially change your religion in the civil registry. But that’s not the real problem. As you may know, the Torah forbids Jews to marry “goyim” – someone who is not Jewish. The thing is that more than a quarter of the people in Israel are actually not Jewish! 20% are Arabs! That means the state of Israel will not allow mixed marriages of Arabs and Jews, even on the beautiful rare occasion that this kind of couple exists. And they say they want equality and peace…
    There’s even a greater problem. The rabbinate of Israel, which is the authority responsible for marrying the Jews of Israel, does not trust the civil registry. Therefore, they automatically assume that anyone born out of the country is probably not a real Jew, and if he wants to marry in a Jewish wedding (orthodox, of course), he has to prove to a rabbinical court that he is, in fact, a Jew, by bringing the birth certificates of his mother and grandmother, knowing at least 3 words in Yiddish and showing pictures of him and his family celebrating Jewish holidays over the years. Of course, many people cannot supply these things, because they did not keep their Jewish birth certificate from the countries where Jews have been persecuted, do not know Yiddish because their grandmother is dead (maybe due to the Holocaust) and do not have family pictures because… they just don’t. So in many occasions, even a Jewish heterosexual couple cannot be married in the state of the Jews. Quite a disgrace.
    Until recently, there was also a problem with something like 5% of the population, who were registered as having no religion whatsoever. Most of them are people who the law recognized as Jewish enough to become legal citizens of Israel, because they have a Jewish father and were raised as Jews, but the Jewish religion does not recognize them as Jews because being Jewish is something you can only get from your mother. The problem of course was that having no religion, they could not be married orthodoxly, therefore they could not be married at all. However, last year the government passed a law that these people of no religion can have a civil marriage. Of course, Jews who are recognized as Jews still need to have an orthodox wedding, meaning they still can’t marry “goyim”, and that includes people of no religion. Those people can only marry within themselves. To sum this up, it’s a Bull***t law.
    However, after all this ranting, there is a bright side: this last law softens the ground and takes us one step closer to an option of civil marriage for everyone. The day will come, soon enough (I’m hoping my younger brother, who is 11 years old, will be able to marry this way when he gets there, I’m quite certain my children will), and when that happens, it will definitely be for everyone, including gay people. Israelis dig gay people! :)
    There’s another good thing, which is the social services do recognize any wedding ceremony as binding, and register people as life parters, even if they’re not officially married, giving them every social right as an officially married couple, and the legal system also recognizes life partners as deserving of every legal right as an officially married couple, so the situation isn’t really that bad. Just irritating.

    And now, I shall continue reading your blog.
    Have a great day! (or what’s left of it, I never manage to calculate the hours correctly…)

  • Megan

    As one half of a same-gender couple, thank you for your support! We will be holding our wedding in our home state of California, then traveling to Washington, D.C. to make it legal.

    We do support HRC and always appreciate allies who donate and encourage others to do the same. I would suggest if not a subtle mention in the ceremony or a “ps” at the reception, then a blurb in the ceremony program or website. What did you end up doing?