Recap: Supporting Marriage Equality in Our Ceremony


Today’s an important day for gay rights in the U.S., and with that occasion in mind I’m going to share the marriage equality statement we incorporated into our wedding ceremony.

But first, I have a shameful confession: I didn’t want a marriage equality statement in our wedding ceremony.

Don’t get me wrong, I support marriage equality.  And I did want to do something to recognize the absurdity that we’re getting married in a country and a commonwealth that wouldn’t even let all the people standing up with me at my wedding marry who they want.  I couldn’t let that injustice get off entirely.

But all I wanted to do was spill a drop from our kiddush cup, which is something I adopted from Becca, who found the idea on So You’re EnGAYged.  In my vision of the ceremony, we weren’t going to say anything about it, we were just going to do it, and if people asked why later, we’d tell them.

I bullshitted that we should keep our politics to ourselves.  I made the comparison to how awful I would find it if I went to a Catholic wedding and the homily was about how gay marriage has to be stopped (this has never happened to me, but I would be shocked if it has never happened.  Someone told me about a Christmas Mass that was all about how gay marriage has to be stopped. Buh.)

But that notion is crap.  Marriage equality is not politics, it is justice.  And really, I was stretching to justify my silence when it was really motivated by my own chicken-shittedness.  I had two particular guests in mind, people incredibly important to me, surrogate-parent types.  I love them even though they belong to a church that hates gay people.  And I was afraid they would walk out, or even just be upset with me, for putting a message of equality in my wedding ceremony.  When I type it out that way, it seems so absurd, but I suspect that if you have intolerant loved ones you can relate to that fear.

These people ended up unable to make my wedding, which made me cry myself to sleep, because see above re: surrogate parents.  And the next day, searching for some kind of silver lining, I said, “Well, fuck it: we’re going to say something about gay marriage.”  [So you know I really am not kidding about how all my justifications for a subtle recognition of marriage equality were complete and utter crap.]

This is the language we used in our ceremony.  It is the only part of the ceremony I didn’t write (well, other than the prayers and legally required language and a few other things I lifted from this book and all your ceremonies and never mind), because there were only a couple days left until the wedding and I was otherwise occupied.  Our Wedding MC Scott Ginsberg wrote it for us.  [He's written a dozen books in ten years or something, so writing this paragraph was a total cakewalk for him.]  I love what he wrote:

“In addition to sharing this wine as a blessing, Robin and Collin will also be spilling a drop of wine in recognition of those couples who cannot marry.  This act honors the couples whose love is true, whose commitment is real, but who are not given the same rights as people as fortunate as Robin and Collin.  This is not just a drop of wine, but a drop of hope, that someday soon those couple too will be able to experience this kind of awesomeness.”

I took a drop of wine out with my fingertip, the way you do at seder, but Collin surmised that too many people in the audience would not understand that, so he actually tipped the glass and poured some wine onto the carpet [SIDEBAR to our venue: I AM SORRY! IT WAS WHITE WINE!]  This prompted at least two people in my bridal hootenanny to turn to their neighbor and whisper, “One for my homos,” because my friends are incorrigible.

It felt right. It belonged in our ceremony, even if it is only a gesture.

A few weeks later, my first-cousin-once-removed’s wife died very suddenly.  I sent him a note with my sympathies, mentioning how happy I am that I got to see her one last time at my wedding.  He responded, telling me how much Rose had loved our wedding, and shared that they found the acknowledgement of marriage inequality particularly touching because they have a gay son.  [Which I didn't know, they have A LOT of kids and I haven't met any of them.]  It made me sad to know that I almost missed one of my last chances to show Rose my love because of my own cowardice.

So yes, marriage equality statements in straight people’s wedding ceremonies are mere gestures.  Gay people still can’t marry the partner of their choosing in Pennsylvania.  But even gestures mean something.




  1. Dave didn’t want anything about marriage equality because he felt it wasn’t appropriate and that a marriage ceremony wasn’t a place for a political protest. I felt strongly about it because 1) we wouldn’t have been able to marry in all states prior to Lovings v Virginia and 2) because while I wish that marriage wasn’t political and everyone was able to freaking marry, clearly that’s not the case.

    He came around shortly after we picked up our marriage license … I think that really hit it home for him. So we’re doing a simple note in the program quoting from Lovings and Goodrich. It’s not nothing, I just wish I could do more (besides vote and give money to gay rights organizations.)

  2. My future sister-in-law’s wedding was hijacked by an evil old priest who added a short but effectively hateful ramble about gay marriage into the homily at their Catholic ceremony right around the time of Prop 8. So yeah, it happens.

    We haven’t had the conversation yet about mentioning equal rights, but it’s something I feel is very important to acknowledge. I love your gesture with the wine, but I feel like we might put a line in the programs or something equally unobtrusive. Just as I expect his family to accept me and my beliefs, I feel like I need to be considerate of any potential sensitivity on the issue (although they’ve mostly surprised me with their acceptance of us living together and probably not having a Catholic ceremony). My mother has a nasty habit of taking over personal moments as a vehicle for political messages, and I hate that, but not nearly as much as I hate the idea that not everyone is entitled to do what I’m doing (getting married).

  3. I am glad you’ve written about this because I’m going through the same thing now. We have finally decided to definitely say something during our ceremony. I felt for the longest time like it would feel to our LBGT friends and loved ones like a hollow gesture… but then I remembered that they are there for us, they love us, and Trey and I truly believe in fighting the good fight for marriage equality.

    Here is what we’ve written (with a lot of help from our friend/officiant:

    “It would not be the marriage of these two kind, sweet and caring people, if we did not take a moment and recognize others who wish to have that right. As we stand here celebrating their marriage, Melissa and Trey would also like to celebrate the handful of states and nations who recognize marriage equality, and their hopes that other states, including our own will soon join that growing group. Melissa and Trey believe that passing such laws, move us one step closer to fulfilling our nation’s promise to provide liberty and justice for all. “

  4. We included an overt statement, and an excerpt from the decision in Goodrich v. Mass Dep’t of Public Health. I was nervous about it, because I didn’t want to cause a stir, but I was glad to hear it during the ceremony and we had a lot of people say they found it meaningful. Here’s the leadup and excerpt we used:

    As anthropologists, Shaelyn and Evan recognize marriage as one of the few cultural universals in the world. They are happy that their home state, and, recently, the state they call home, recognize the right of all individuals to marry, regardless of sexual orientation, and hope that such a right will soon be recognized throughout the country. In the 2003 decision legalizing same sex marriage in that state, the Massachusetts Supreme Court wrote:

    Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. . . . 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 fulfils 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.

    …And then we did our declaration of intent.

    • Oh, and our home state is CT and our state of residence is NY. I think the decision in NY and the elation we felt about that is what made us decide 100% to include an overt statement in our ceremony, even though the state where we were getting married (CT) allows gay marriage.

      • We got married in CT too! My sister-in-law is gay and it was important to us to make an overt statement – we chose the UCC church to be married in because they accept everyone. So in her opening statements, the pastor noted that that was why we chose that church and also that we were so happy to be marrying in a state that acknowledges equal marriage rights for everyone (or something like that). It was great.

  5. I love this. I was hesitant about including a statement about gay marriage in our ceremony, too, although I’d have never admitted that at the time. I was reluctant to alienate anybody. But what propelled me forward was the knowledge that my aunt and her partner would be able to hear those words. They’ve gotten a lot of flak from my grandmother for their relationship and I was excited to show them our support and hope that they can be legally married one day.

  6. I felt a lump in my throat when I read that line “a drop of hope.” Much like Mom Stuff or like Growing Up Is Sad Sometimes, this issue has become an insta-cry thing for me. Reading touching blog posts or like, the official statements of those Republicans in New York who tipped the congressional boat….just tears. Always.

    I also think it’s perfect in the sense of like “a drop in the bucket.” At some point, the collective ‘bucket’ has to spill over, right?

    Also, MAN, I just realized that now, in THEORY, this could be a THING for me. Ughhhhh. Like, sure, my family–particularly my conservative & totally-non-emotional Dad and Bro–would likely roll an eye at Liberal Abby With Her Artsy Friends statement of marriage equality during her ceremony. But my fella’s family. They might …oh, what will they do? Disapprove. Surprise! I mean, whatever. If we get there, it’s more likely than not going to be so far from what they’d prefer for their son’s wedding, we might as well have gay porn ice sculptures.

    • This prompted me just now to think about my own family and how they would have reacted if a) they were invited to our elopement and b) we had said a few words about it. Joe’s mom is a faithful Catholic but is politically VERY liberal (I have a hard time fathoming it, but she is a liturgist in church and also travels to Amsterdam occasionally to smoke doobies – not kidding). So I think she’d be cool with it, but my parents would be uncomfortable. They wouldn’t freak out, but I know they’d squirm. The point is moot for me anyway, but you got me thinking!

  7. I loved it when you did it, I love this post, and I love you.

  8. I went to a wedding last year where the homily was about how MARRIAGE is about FAMILY and about KNOWING WHO BELONGS TO WHOM (sooooo not even kidding) and how it is a holy vow between a WOMAN and a MAN. The best (worst) part about this ceremony is that there were TWO pastors – one who was the groom’s and one who came with the church and had to be allowed to do his thang. The guy who did this whole business was the required church one, and he looked like Joel Osteen. I was pretty freakin’ disgusted.

    • In Australia we have to state that according to Australian Law a marriage is between a man and woman. It sucks arse! Without that statement (there are 2 or 3 mandated sentances that can not be changed and must be spoken in hearing), you are not married, you legally must have them there. Damn conservative government getting involved in things that are none of their business!

  9. I think it was a lovely, lovely gesture, and it DEFINITELY meant something. Those little things all mean something. Hell, I -married- a woman, so some people would say my entire wedding and subsequent marriage was/is a political statement, but no. My wedding and my marriage are just that, a wedding and a marriage, just like everyone else’s.

    Anyway, I also wanted to say that sometimes it is hard even for me, a lady married to another lady, to put stuff about marriage equality out there. We all do our best.

  10. wow – another great post! I can completely understand where you were coming from – not wanting to offend your guests…but I’m glad it worked out that you were able to include it, especially for the sake of your friend. It was a good and hard lesson to learn…that we should speak up in what we believe is right, but obviously on such a happy day, any bride is going to try their hardest to avoid any dissent.

  11. Our statement was subtle, something like “Bunny and Beagle look forward to the day all of their friends can legally marry.” I figured those who knew, would know what we were talking about. Those whose opinion was different would probably not even realize what it meant. And really what I wanted was our gay friends to feel like we supported them. It wasn’t so much about preaching to those who did not support marriage equality. I had two separate gay friends come up to me during the reception and tell me that it meant a lot to them to have included that statement. So I’m calling it a success.

  12. It made me cry then and it made me cry today.
    I SO SO adore everything about you, Robin. Your honesty takes my breath away. and I just truly LOVE everything about you….your friends are so fortunate to have you in their lives and GOD so are WE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Pingback: Recap: Ceremony Script | HitchDied

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