To my Mormon Cousins:
If it made you happy
If it kept you strong
I would smile for you
And bless your journey
If you found the one
Whose soul met yours
In the ancient dance of bliss
I’d just have to cheer you on.
She makes me happy
She keeps me strong
We sing a sacred song
I don’t need your temples
Your bishops or your priests
I have my own
With folks that love me
With folks that care
A God that is all love
I don’t need you
To cheer me on.
I don’t need your blessing
I have my own
You can’t rain on my parade
But don’t take my money
To try and prove
Your way is somehow better
Than my own
If you try to outlaw my love
Your own heart will shrivel
And your God will look away
Embarrassed by your coldness
Your hubris and your fear.
Your temple it will fall
Crushed by weight of the wrong
That you have done to others.
Let love in before your faith
Turns to ashes in the wind.
What I have learned about love is this: it doesn’t come easy. It isn’t a happily ever after riding into the sunset with a prince or princess by your side. Soul mates aren’t magic mirrors reflecting back how you want to see yourself or them. Reach through the mirror, pay attention to the cracks. They are how the love – and light gets in. Leonard Cohen taught me a lot with that line. You aren’t royalty either, just a frog like other frogs. Life is the swamp can be lovely though. It is not necessary to sing every song in tune or dance in time with a perfect rhythm.
Marriage means so much more if you have been engaged for decades. I know this from experience. Because engagement is the thing, one of them, that makes a marriage, a partnership, work. Be real and honest and yourself. Listen carefully. Pay attention. Hold your lover’s hand, but don’t hold them back, and try to catch them when they fall. You will stumble too. Stay engaged even after you are married. I think that might be the key. If there is one. If it isn’t all just luck. In any case be grateful. If someone really loves you, it is a miracle
It can be awkward, if your family does not approve. Time can heal that. Not always, but often enough that it is worth some effort.
It can be hurtful if your church won’t bless your love or even calls it sinful. If that is true, then find another church. God hangs out in a lot of different places and the real God – not someone’s mirror image – just loves love, even more than the color purple, (another book that taught me a lot.)
It can be wonderful if the people where you live support you, if they recognize your family. If they vote for it or if their legislature approves it, that really rocks. A judge deciding in your favor is pretty cool too. Take what you can get, but it is OK to ask for more. Love, like justice, does not come easy, but with enough grace, with enough effort, it comes.
It has felt very strange to be out of the state while history is being made in Utah. I would have loved running down to the Weber County Courthouse to help officiate the long awaited weddings that took place there yesterday. Someone asked me on Facebook if I would have been first in line if I were there. My answer was, of course: “No, I am already married and marriage is forever.” Yes, I know, people can get divorced, but they will still have been married – forever. It is amazing to me that some of my friends have been married to each other multiple times, in different countries and in different states. I don’t think it is considered bigamy if you keep marrying the same person over and over again, but it does seem odd to me. It nothing else, it is a lot of anniversaries to remember.
My life partner (now wife) and I have only two anniversaries. One is July 12. We were legally wed on July 12, 2013 in San Rafael, CA. The other is January 3. We began our relationship as a couple on Jan. 3, 1975. Since then, we have owned 3 different homes, lived in three different states, had three biological children, and cared for three foster children. We will have a big wedding ceremony and reception on January 3, 2014, also in San Rafael. We will exchange vows and rings, cut a cake, toss bouquets, and dance to a DJ’s music. The minister who is officiating is the Reverend Janie Sparr, the first minister we met as a couple and one of the most courageous and loving people I know. She has been working within the Presbyterian Church for decades, trying to promote love and acceptance for all.
I followed her into the ministry, but as a Unitarian Universalist minister, not a Presbyterian. Unitarian Universalists have a very long history of support for equality for LGBT people, so the work I have done in that area has largely been in the wider community.
If we had been in Utah this week, rather than in California preparing for that big wedding ceremony of ours, we would have been been at a Utah courthouse. I would have signed a lot of marriage licenses and we both would have cheered all the newlyweds. Love is sweet. It is worth celebrating. If we hadn’t done the legal thing in California last July, we would have been in the line to be married as well.
But marriage is forever and that fact is recognized and understood here in California. In Utah that is still not true as the governor there is fighting to have all those sweet marriages declared null and void. He calls it chaos. Utah County continues to defy the court order and is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same gender couples. That is chaos, I suppose, but it is a chosen chaos. I do understand that much of Utah is in shock at the court’s decision. I am in shock too. Who could have imagined before this week that Utah would have marriage equality before a state like Oregon? Who could have imagined that this would happen in a state where people can be fired or evicted simply because to their sexual orientation or gender identity?
Utah never took any steps down that so-called “slippery slope,” but this week, more than a few hang gliders were able to fly free, catching the updraft of a brand new day. Hand in hand, their marriages, too, will be forever. Blessed Be.
What do we do
When a miracle happens
One that had hardly been dreamed?
How do we feel
On the darkest of nights
When a star appears in the East?
Love’s tender blessings
Rain down in the desert
As mountains rejoice in the snow
Kiss me my darling
Let’s dance with our friends
This moment is glory
The miracle real.
I am flying back to CA today to be with my wife, spend the holidays with our children, and get ready for our January wedding. We had a friend perform a legal marriage for us there in July. Then we came back to Utah and were unrelated, our relationship not recognized by our state. This afternoon, when I arrive in the Bay Area, or maybe even as I fly over the Sierras, we will be married again. We will soon have a big wedding ceremony and reception, and our relationship will be blessed by a fabulous minister and affirmed by 100+ family and friends. Afterward, we will drive back to Utah. Once we cross the boarder into Nevada, we will again be legal strangers. It is not fun living in a so-called “family values” state that doesn’t recognize our commitment to each other. After 39 years together, our lives are completely entwined. “Families are forever” is an LDS slogan that refers to eternal marriage or marriages in the afterlife. Mormon men can have more than one wife once they get to heaven. I’d be just fine having my one marriage recognized in this world, all the time, wherever I might be and wherever I might travel.
Maybe the Supremes will sing again.
Ah, Utah, your mountains are beautiful but your politics are truly bizarre.
In arguing the current challenge to amendment 3 which bans same sex marriage, the state attorneys said case law requires that the judge use a rational-basis standard to determine if Utah’s law promotes a legitimate government interest in supporting responsible procreation and the “gold standard” of two biological parents for child rearing, which they said was the primary purpose behind the ban on same-sex marriages.
Gold standard? Utah is a state that says it values families and children. It also has terribly underfunded and poorly performing schools and one of the highest suicide rates in the country for teens and young adults. I won’t even talk about STD’s and teenage pregnancies, porn addiction rates, drug addiction rates, or the high profile and horrible cases of child abuse and neglect that keep surfacing.
Is the gold standard really about straight couples marrying very young and having lots of kids? The LDS culture here encourages that. Families with eight or even ten children are not uncommon. Women are defined by being mothers and more is clearly seen as better. That doesn’t seem like “responsible procreation” to me. Almost every week, a young child is run over in their driveway and killed , often by a relative. Unsupervised children find the family guns and shoot each other or themselves. Realistically, no one can watch ten kids and keep them safe, not these days. No one can really care for ten children and do justice to the difficult job of being a parent.
If Utah families are the gold standard for raising children, it is a pretty tarnished one.
Responsible procreation is having children that you really want. It is having the resources and abilities to be able to care for them so that they can grow up to be healthy, happy, responsible people who will contribute something positive to the world.
Same gender couples who have decided to have children are much more likely than straight couples to have given parenting a lot of thought before they create a family. It also takes a lot of effort and expense for a gay couple to have a child, most commonly through artificial insemination, surrogacy, or adoption. Accidental pregnancies just don’t happen. Home studies are also required for adoption. The gay parents I know are, in fact, some of the best around. I also know some awesome single parents as well as straight couples who have adopted children. Kids in those families suffer not because of their family structure but because people tell them their family is somehow not “real” or “not as good .”
The state attorneys and those they represent should take a long hike in those lovely mountains. They can look for gold, but they just might see a rainbow instead.
We could then adopt a rainbow standard of children being raised by a parent or parents who will love and care for them.
It’s been a long
As it came
No vows just hope
That love would win
As the years passed
One day to another
Was it a surprise
To still be standing
Side by side
Now’s the time
It’s been too long
Be my bride
For love, my dear,
Has finally won.
Our wedding announcement was printed in the local paper today. It is the first time, I was told, that a same gender couple had their wedding announcement published. This IS progress. As I wrote in an earlier post, (Click here) the recognition counts for a lot. I feel just a little more married today, even in Utah. Thanks, Standard Examiner!
And thanks too to Charles Trentelman, a recently retired newspaper columnist, still writing. Read his blog post about us (here.)
We never thought marriage was important for us. Yeah, sure, we knew there were some financial benefits. OK, a LOT of financial benefits! (Some of them are listed here) But still, as far as our relationship went, we did not think marriage would make a difference to us. We’d been together for 38 years after all. We had kids together, several foster children as well as our own three biological kids. We were out and open. We had friends and our Unitarian Universalist religious community that treated us as a family. We were committed to spending the rest of our lives together. Who needed marriage?
As a minister, I have officiated at a lot of weddings. They can be truly wonderful ceremonies and it is an honor to bear witness to a couple’s love for each other. It is particular moving to me to perform a marriage for a couple that I know, when one or both are friends or members of my congregation. It is also a privilege to, on behalf of the state, declare them legally married. It has always bothered me that I could not perform a legal marriage for every couple whose wedding I performed.
Still, I didn’t really get what a big deal marriage is. I didn’t know what I was missing. It isn’t just the ceremony and the party. We could have done that at any time. All UU ministers perform same gender weddings and have done so for decades. I have a lot of minister friends. One of them did our legal marriage last month in California. I put up a facebook post asking for someone to do the honors and no less than 5 friends volunteered to help within 4 hours of the posting. We were married. We are married. We’re having a bigger religious wedding ceremony and reception later, but we are already married. The legal status matters. The financial advantages are just that, financial advantages. We got a few of those in California back in 1993 when we registered as domestic partners.
So what is the big deal about marriage? What have I learned that I didn’t know before?
I don’t have all the answers to those questions yet. I do know that a legal civil marriage is every bit as important as the religious ceremony. A legal civil marriage is recognized by everyone. A religious ceremony provides recognition by your faith community. If you are legally married, everybody has to recognize the relationship, not just the people that happen to approve of it. I think we all know a few married couples that have lousy relationships, ones we don’t really approve of in any way. It doesn’t matter if they were married in a church or temple or by a county clerk or by someone with a mail order ordination. We still recognize them as married, even if we might wish they weren’t.
That is what happened when we signed the marriage license and turned it into the county clerk to be recorded. Everywhere we went in California, our marriage was recognized. It was an incredible feeling, a powerful feeling. We can now visit Washington DC, Massachusetts, and a dozen other states and a score of countries and no one, not even the grossest bigot, can say our marriage is not valid. Ok, they can say it, but it wouldn’t be true.
Here in Utah, however, our marital status is in question. Things are not clear. It will most likely take court cases before our marriage is legally valid here. In a state where publishers refuse to print a bio for an author in a same gender relationship (see article) changing enough hearts and minds will likely be a long, slow, and tedious process.
It is not OK, it is hurtful and wrong, but that is the way it is right now. It will be different someday. Progress will continue. In the meantime, we’ll kept working on those hearts and minds. We are still married, even in Utah.
So Utah stands firm in refusing to recognize my marriage.
A driver’s license from CA is perfectly good here.
So are permits to carry concealed weapons.
First cousins who marry in states where it is legal to do so don’t become single when they move here. Oh, maybe that IS legal here.
“first cousins can marry if both are over 65, or, if both parties are over 55, if the court finds that they are unable to reproduce.”
Just saying, but “Hell hath no fury like a woman whose marriage is scorned.”
Of course you could decide to secede. I know you are thinking about it, what with all the hoopla about federal lands. Why not mine your part of the Grand Canyon? Arizona won’t mind. We could maybe get money for the public schools that you want to abolish.
If you do manage to secede from the US (its been tried before) and if you don’t want to go it alone, Russia might welcome you in. Or Uganda.
Just saying, but you are known by the company you keep.
Oh, and forget about ever getting the Olympics back.
Rage. – a poem