Queerly Wed: When Religious Family Members Object

By Azure Nelson, Published Jan 6, 2010

Special to OneWed by Melissa Johns of QueerlyWed The vast majority of people who object to same-sex relationships and marriage do so on religious grounds. Coming out to such people can be very difficult, depending on how close you are to them and how much you seek their approval. For the most part, I’ve been lucky because even though most of my family is very religious, I have been given full support of my choice to marry my same-sex partner. I do have religious family members that have been invited to the ceremony that will most likely not show up. And, frankly, we don’t want people at the wedding who are not happy for us. Who wants disapproving eyes cast their way on their wedding day? My mother is super religious (a minister!) but is supportive of me and loves Stacy. The people who might have a problem with my wedding are actually on her side of the family. I have told my mother to spread the word that no one who isn’t comfortable with my decision should feel obligated to come just because I am their family. The people who matter most to me are going to be there. The other, more religiously opposed folks I am not as close with. But what would you say to unsupportive religious family members that you really want to be there on your big day? I would recommend that you steer clear of biblical debates unless you think you can get their priest/rabbi/minister to back you up. People think what they want to think about the bible and no one can say for certain which interpretation is correct. It’s a pointless battle. Instead, you might consider delving into one of the following topics: • Talk to them about your childhood dreams of getting married – and how you had to adjust them when you came out. This can open up a dialog about some of the same issues they are dealing with now: struggling to understand, adjustment, and acceptance. • Talk about love. I mean, if you talk about why you love your partner and how you feel when you’re with him/her, your relative just might identify with that. • You could bring up that crazy, “loser” cousin who everyone loves despite his mistakes (NOT conceding that you are making a mistake, of course!). “If you can accept Jeff, what’s so different about accepting me? At least I’m not a drug addicted murderer!” (If you ARE a drug addicted murderer, you probably shouldn’t bring up this argument) • Finally, if you want to discuss religion, just talk about your own beliefs. Remember that on your wedding day, you want to be happy. If this person just cannot bring him/herself to attend, I know it hurts, but at least those that do attend will keep the day positive for you.

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