Thursday, October 27, 2011

Building Bridges with Same Sex Weddings by Emily VanLaeys

 The first legal gay marriages were celebrated on July 24, 2011, and on July 26th, I performed
my first same-sex wedding for two women who had been together for twelve years. They had
already had a commitment ceremony in Vermont, and a wedding in Massachusetts, so they just
wanted an intimate ceremony to legalize their marriage in their home state of New York.  I
conducted the ceremony in my back yard, with my husband as the only witness. Although it was
their third ceremony, it was the first one in which the women’s love story was told. The women
were visibly moved by hearing their personal story and feelings for each other framed in words
as part of their wedding ceremony. At the end of their Massachusetts wedding, they had simply
been pronounced “married.” I ended their ceremony with these words: “Because you have come
together with your hearts and minds and souls, and pledged to one another your futures, I
pronounce you to be united in legal and spiritual matrimony.”

    A lot of the gay couples who are getting married now have already been committed to each
other for many years. In September I conducted a wedding for two men, Ed and Bill, who had
been together for sixteen years. They have an adopted son who came to this country from China
and has brought immeasurable joy to the two fathers. We included a Chinese tea and orange
sharing ritual as part of the wedding ceremony, in order to symbolize the cementing of all three
individuals as members of one family. Before the couple took their vows, I spoke these words:
“This is a great day for all of humanity, as well as for these two men, because the new law that
allows this wedding to occur tells us that the world is becoming a kinder and gentler place.”

     In October I officiated the wedding of two men, Earl and John, who have been together for
fifteen years. The best part of this and the previous wedding was the presence of so many
supportive friends and family members. As part of Earl and John’s ceremony, all of the guests
shouted “We do!” to promise their support for the couple.  Earl’s brother read a classical
Chinese wedding poem, and John’s sister read an excerpt from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift
from the Sea.  As I told them, Earl and John have the kind of relationship that other couples envy,
because they NEVER tire of each other’s company. Using the insights I gleaned from their
responses to my questions, I said: “You are two halves of a whole: two pieces of a puzzle that fit
perfectly together. You put forth a great deal of effort to take care of each other and you support
each other in your personal growth. You are better together than either of you is apart.”

 Each of the same-sex couples that I have married believes that they are soul mates. Can
anyone tell them that they are wrong when they know themselves and each other better than
anyone else can? Every human soul is composed of both masculine and feminine aspects
which each of us must learn to balance within ourselves. Our soul mate is someone who helps
us to balance the different qualities of our personalities. For the majority, this is someone of the
opposite sex, but for some it is a person of the same sex who has just what it takes to make
another feel whole and complete. This is so well put in this poem by Mark Twain, which I read at
Bill and Ed’s wedding:

"On Marriage”
A marriage makes two fractional lives a whole;
It gives two purposeless lives a work and doubles
the strength of each to perform it;
It gives two questioning natures a reason for living,
and something to live for;
It will give a new gladness to the sunshine,
A new fragrance to the flowers,
A new beauty to the earth,
And a new mystery to life.

No comments:

Post a Comment