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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

SL Letter of the Day: Suggested Reading

Posted by Dan Savage on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM

I'm a straight woman planning a wedding in a no-equality state. Many of my nearest and dearest friends are gay. As I address these invites I can't help feeling like a schmuck. Doesn't this suck for you guys on some level? Smiling through weddings for years on end while being shat on by the government? I want to write "SORRY!" all over the invitations I'm sending to my gay friends! I was thinking of registering for donations to my state's marriage equality lobby. Would that be cool or patronizing? Besides an open bar, is there a way for straight people to make wedding attendance less bittersweet/annoying for gay family and friends?

Can't Help Feeling Like A Dick

My response after the jump...

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There's no need to write "SORRY!" on your invitations, CHFLAD, and your gay friends won't wind up drowning their sorrows at the open bar or thinking you're a schmuck—if you're smart enough to heed the advice I gave to a straight couple that asked the exact same question a few years back:

Last weekend the boyfriend-in-America/husband-in-Canada and I attended the wedding of some dear straight friends. We weren't the only 'mos: There were "a number of people in attendance [without] access to the rights" our straight friends were signing up for. And all us homos were delighted to be there and deliriously happy for our friends, and not one of us would've asked them to wait to marry until gay marriage is legal in all 50 states—something that isn't going to happen until 2024, according to number-crunchin' superstar political blogger Nate Silver (tinyurl.com/cn58xy). That's when the final holdout—Mississippi—will finally legalize same-sex marriage.

Here's what I think straight couples should do in the meantime, HTRC: Get married, make a donation to the fight for marriage equality, and encourage your guests to do the same.... And in addition to throwing some money equality's way, HTRC, consider lifting one of the readings from our friends' ceremony.

"Marriage is a vital social institution," the reading began. "The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition."

So touching, so true, and so universal—who could argue with those sentiments? Everyone at the wedding was nodding. The reading continued...

"It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a 'civil right.' Without the right to choose to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience."

After the reading—which was done by a gay friend of the couple—the officiant identified the source: It was from the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in that state. It was a lovely gesture: The gay couples at the wedding were touched and the hetero couples were reminded of the injustice that gay couples face. It would be wonderful if this passage from the Massachusetts court's ruling on marriage equality caught on as a wedding reading.

So there you go, CHFLAD: have one of your gay guests stand and read that passage as a part of your ceremony—but be sure to identify the source after the reading is over, just to fuck with the minds of any marriage-equality opponents sitting in the church (you want them nodding along in agreement before you tell 'em what it's about!)—and, yes, be sure to send a few bucks to an organization fighting for marriage equality. Marriage is on the ballot in four states this November: Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota. You can make a donation—and you can encourage your guests to make donations—by visiting one or all of the pro-equality campaigns' websites:

Washington United for Marriage
Minnesotans United for All Families
Mainers United for Marriage
Marylanders for Marriage Equality

Congrats on your upcoming wedding, CHFLAD, and thanks for doing your part to secure marriage rights for all!

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