I went to a beautiful wedding this weekend, as the “plus one” of a friend from out of town. A difficult issue for many brides and grooms is how to celebrate their own wedding, without ignoring the fact that in most of the country their gay friends cannot get married.
Most people do not want to turn their wedding into a political statement, nor should they. I thought his couple handled the issue beautifully by including this as one of their four wedding readings. The reading comes from Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, writing for the Court in Goodridge v. Department of Health (the case that legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts). I should probably point out that the bride is a lawyer for the ACLU, so it makes sense that she would know where to find a good legal reading, and it was especially appropriate.
The Freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free people. Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family – these are among the most basic of every individual’s liberty.
Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations. Without question, marriage enhances the welfare of the community. It is a social institution of the highest importance.
Marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.
Congratulations to Leah and Joe on your beautiful wedding day, thank you for letting me be a part of it!