Yes, friends, I am an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church and a Notary Public. If you so choose, I can marry your ass. I mean, I won’t marry your ass, but if you find another ass to marry, I can marry your ass to that ass.
I got credentials so I could marry two friends of mine. Their wedding was the first, and probably last, I’ll ever do.
Emma and Luke are kind-hearted, smart, talented people who I had known for several years. Neither of them had anything against marriage per se, but they didn’t hold the “institution” in high regard. Marriage wasn’t really on their radar — they had been together for over ten years, happily in love, and saw no reason to tie the knot. Of course, they also weren’t keen on taking part in an institution that wasn’t extended to our gay and lesbian friends.
But due to job changes and an impending move across the country, Emma and Luke needed to legally marry for insurance purposes. They agonized over the decision — they didn’t want to get married, but in the end, their health and finances took precedence and they agreed to tie the knot. More than simply getting married, they decided to turn their “wedding” into a celebration of their love and a going away party to get everyone together and say goodbye before they moved across the country.
Emma and Luke asked me to officiate their ceremony because of my views on marriage, my beliefs about love, and my approach to partnership and commitment. With their blessing, this was the short “sermon” I delivered.
On Love and “Marriage”
Welcome everyone! On behalf of Emma and Luke, I’d like to thank you for being here today to help them celebrate their lives and their love. In a moment, we will hear the vows they have written to each other. But first, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on marriage, on commitment, and on love.
In our unique socio-historical moment, entering into marriage means entering into a legally binding contract. From this day forward, and until they choose otherwise, Emma and Luke will be legally bound together by the cultural institution of marriage. Although they have been partners for over ten years, this ceremony marks their entrance into legal partnership.
As we celebrate their partnership today, we must also recognize and lament the discriminatory practices that in most states, do not recognize the naturalness, importance, or legality of loving marriages between two partners of the same sex. Unfortunately, the institution of marriage is heteronormative and misogynistic, and as of this day in the United States, marriage still represents the deeply flawed cultural ideals of heterosexuality, monogamy, and nuclear family.
We must keep in mind that marriage is a cultural institution — not a natural one.
What is natural is love.
So today, instead of celebrating the institution, we choose to celebrate love, to celebrate the partnership Emma and Luke have shared for more than a decade.
If this were a typical ceremony, Luke would have stood alone waiting for his partner, symbolically incomplete until the arrival of his other half. But Luke and Emma walked here together because they are both already whole. They walked side-by-side, hand-in-hand, because they have always been equals.
If this were a typical ceremony, Emma would have been given away by her father, passed from one patriarchal household to another. But neither Emma nor Luke have been given away because they belong to no one but themselves. While they are overjoyed by the support of their families and friends, Emma and Luke give themselves to each other. Of their own free will, they choose to love one another.
If this were a typical ceremony, the bride and groom would vow to love, cherish, and honor each other, in sickness and health, in wealth and in poverty, for better or worse. But Emma and Luke wouldn’t be standing here today if they hadn’t already made those promises.
Today, as they enter into legal union, we ask that they continue to make good on the commitments they’ve made to each other, not because they’ve made vows or because they’ve signed a contract, but because they want to. We ask them to have faith in their commitments as they continue to respect the fluidity and dynamism of life, of love, of individuality, and of partnership.
[The couple read their vows, which were hilarious and touching and true.]
Emma and Luke, are these your vows?
Emma and Luke, I now pronounce you hetero-lifemates. You may kiss each other.
[Kisses are shared, wine is opened, and merry-making goes on into the wee hours of the morning.]
Best. Wedding. Ever. :)