Here Come the Brides
Real life and what you read in the newspapers usually bear little resemblance to one another. But every so often, you find yourself on the inside of what, to some, is a major cultural debate.
Lucy was a flower girl last weekend at her nanny’s wedding. Lucy took her job seriously, and before the ceremony invented several ways to get down the aisle: The Stately Walk, The Gallop and The Skip, which unfortunately looked a lot more like The Child with the Tragic Limp.
Happily, Lucy went with The Stately Walk, and in this way, preceded the brides down the aisle.
Yes. There were two brides, and not a single groom.
It was one of those weddings that some people these days are so eager to ban. And yet, aside from my own wedding, which holds a special place in my heart and memory, it was probably the best one I've attended, and it wasn’t just because there was a tower of doughnuts instead of the traditional wedding cake. It wasn't even because Lucy got to drink her first Shirley Temple, nor the fact that several wedding guests commented that she looked just like Shirley Temple.
It was because the wedding felt real. The ceremony talked about commitment in terms that resonate with those of us who understand what it takes to make a marriage work. What's more, those of us who know the brides have seen first-hand how they love and support each other, despite some hard times. Many of us have seen something else when we attended weddings between mismatched brides and grooms, people we know, deep down, are marrying each other just to be married, and to have all those things that married people get: comfort, security, a place in society, and a set of well-matched towels.
When gay people decide to get married, they get none of this — except perhaps the towels.
They get people asking, “Why are you getting married? You don’t have to.” No one asks straight couples this question; the answer is obvious, and to ask would be so insulting.
Same-sex couples also get people in high places — people who don't know them personally — saying their relationship is deviant and a threat to everything we hold sacred and dear.
They get people who — despite such real problems as war, starving children, struggling schools and high unemployment — think it’s a good use of the public’s attention and taxpayer dollars to actually prevent these simple marriages from happening.
I suspect that if I did not have many wonderful friends in my life who also happen to be gay, I’d probably think the same.
When I was ten years old, for example, I had a history class assignment to write a page-long paper arguing a point. I argued that homosexual people were clearly mentally ill and belonged in institutions. I don’t know where this idea came from, as I have no memory of my parents teaching it to me. I suspect it might have had to do with the fact that I attended Catholic Mass every Sunday and church school every Monday afternoon, and listened carefully to the long list of sins we were to avoid.
As I grew up and my world expanded, I chose to focus on other lessons I learned in church, like kindness, compassion, tolerance and a reluctance to judge others. Very often, the people who helped me do this were the gays and lesbians I met. With their humor and willingness to be my friends, I came to know how wrong I had been as a child.
What I believe today is simpler than what I believed back then.
I believe that, when two people love each other, they are better for it. And I believe that when two people love each other enough to get married and say sincerely, “No matter what happens to us, we will take care of each other and the people around us,” the world is a better place.
I also believe that history will bear this out. Just that it has shown us that past bans on mixed-race and mixed-religion marriages were wrong, bans on gay marriages also are wrong. Love doesn’t make the world a worse place, ever.I would teach this to Lucy as she grows up, except for one thing. Thanks to Laramie, she already knows it.