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.