gay wedding planning for straight people

By | July 17, 2011

Some queers have chosen to boycott opposite-sex marriages in protest of discriminatory laws on who can legally marry in the United States. I agree with writer Charles Purdy that boycotting loved ones’ ceremonies is both selfish and ineffectual. Purdy writes that

using another person’s wedding as a soapbox for your political viewpoints is indeed tacky. It reeks of self-important grandstanding….[B]eing cruel is no way to bring anyone around to you point of view. (After all, that’s what the other side does with their constant slanderous, mean-spirited attacks on gay people as human beings.) We need to be strengthening alliances, not shredding them…. We have to stay engaged in dialogues with our friends and families — not hide in our rooms like sulky teens when we don’t get our way.

For politically engaged/enraged queers, I think the best course of action is to attend the straight wedding you were invited to, and to bring a queer date, and to get your gay on, visibly, publicly, and respectfully–after all, another couple’s wedding is not about you. A visible queer presence at a wedding can, however, get people thinking and talking about marriage equality.

Now: let’s say you’re an engaged opposite-sex couple, planning your legally sanctioned wedding. Let’s say you’re an engaged opposite-sex couple that believes, deeply, that marriage is a right that should not be limited based on bigoted beliefs about sexuality and morality. Here are some suggestions for planning your wedding!

  1. Choose to hold your ceremony in a locale that has legalized gay marriage. In doing this, you get to feel good about sending your wedding costs and your attendees’ tourist dollars to the coffers of a place that’s getting it right on marriage equality, AND you get to tell people “Yeah, we decided to make you all trek out to New York because it’s one of only a few states that’s doing the right thing on marriage equality.”
  2. State your position on marriage equality. I recently attended an opposite-sex wedding in which the officiant began the ceremony with a recognition that not all people–not even all the people in attendance at the wedding–had the rights being exercised by the engaged couple. It was cool like bow ties. (Though not everyone agrees; here’s a gay activist who equates this gesture to a white person joining a whites-only club and making a short statement of support for nonwhites.)
  3. Watch your language. The ceremony itself could crib from this gender-neutral ceremony script I just found, though I don’t see a point in removing all opposite-sex markers from a ceremony. I mean, if you and your partner use opposite-gender pronouns, then there’s no reason to act like it’s otherwise. You might also think about how to phrase your invitations and other wedding-oriented text to embrace a range of gender orientations and couple arrangements.
  4. Consider registering with an organization fighting for marriage equality. Here’s a link to the Human Rights Campaign’s wedding registry, which allows people to make donations in your honor to their efforts to legalize gay marriage.