Time for another straight person’s take on gay marriage, or as we like to call it in Paganism: marriage.
While at Pagan Spirit Gathering last week, Arthur Hinds stood up and announced same-sex marriage had passed in New York State during Morning Meeting. A few hundred religious people of varying sexual orientations erupted in cheers. They didn’t politely clap. They didn’t think “Well, that’s nice for them.” None sat on their hands or look mildly perturbed. Without any more prompting thasn a simple news announcement they burst into uproarious celebration. It’s one of those moments that makes me intensely proud to be Pagan.
There were couples there, both straight and gay, celebrating their 25 anniversaries. Many more couples, straight or gay, had been together for a decade or two. I was extremely proud to attend the wedding of a friend of mine to his partner. Sobu and Phoenix were beaming and I’ve never seen a couple so in love at a wedding. After they exchanged rings and dog tags, Sparky T. Rabbit gave a blessing, and in it he mentioned he had married his partner in 1984. It was one of the nicest handfastings I’ve ever seen, and coming back from all that love, I find it absurd when people wonder if gay marriages can last.
Marriage is nothing more or less than a contract between two people to share their lives, their bodies and their hearts. The sharing of assets, raising children, social obligations and other considerations are secondary and not essential. Cara Schulz and I had a conversation over cocktails about this very thing, as we hid under her fancy leopard-print curtained tent from the drizzle and breeze. She posited that the government had no business in the private partnership contracts of it’s citizens, and that marriage ceremonies were the province of religion, not the state. You file your legal documents, then go have your religious celebration with family.
I’ve rolled this around in my mind since she said it. When I was married years ago we were afraid our minister might be called away due to his mother’s ill health. We decided to file our paperwork that morning just in case. Fully expecting to pay the $30 filing fee, sign the document and be on our way to wedding preparations, we instead endured a religious ceremony at the insistence of the Probate Judge. I was taken aback by the religious language used, particularly since we would be exchanging custom vows that evening before family and friends. Yet, when a little over a year later we were divorced, all I had to do was to file papers and assure the judge that our contract was irrevocably broken.
If the government is relegated to simply filing the private partnership contracts people draw up, then the arguments regarding gay marriage, as well as the arguments against polyamory, are null and void. Citizens are given the freedom to choose who has power-of-attorney should they become ill or disabled, who has the right to visit them in the hospital, who they share financial liability with and with whom they raise children. As American citizens we should have that liberty.
Religious ceremonies, and their accompanying restrictions, have no place in our government. It’s absurd to think that they do. It’s just as absurd to think gay marriages won’t last. I tend to suspect the people who question same-sex marriage don’t actually know anyone who is gay. Just as Sparky and his husband have stuck it out and are still in love, I fully expect to be celebrating Sobu and Phoenix’s anniversary for many PSG’s to come.
Asking if gay marriage can last is absurd, because it’s already standing the test of time alongside straight marriages.