By Philip Sheldon, CEO HE Travel
I flew to New York City on Labor Day weekend to attend my first officially licensed American gay wedding. The two spouses are from Florida, which is trying mightily to not recognize the deep commitment these two men have for each other. Happily, the State of New York welcomed them and their relationship with open arms.
The term “gay marriage” has been repeated so often in our political discourse of the past few years that’s it has joined “green” and many other terms that have become abstractions and even clichés, losing much of their meaning.
But in the Metropolitan Community Church of New York on Saturday, August 31, the abstraction became very real and very personal. Gay marriage was no longer political and the subject of TV commentators and the Supreme Court. Marriage on this day was my dear friends Dan and Biagio standing in front of family and friends, looking into each others’ eyes and saying “Yes, I am with you and I will always be with you.”
From one perspective, I was overwhelmed by how very ordinary the ceremony was – extraordinary for the words that each man wrote to say to the other, but ordinary in that family and friends were gathered together to bear witness to a union just as they have for heterosexual couples over time.
When they said “I do” there were no thunderclaps (although the sun did break out on what had been a cloudy day!), and there was no sign of any straight marriage that was endangered by Biagio and Dan’s expression of love.
There were just two very nervous, very proud, very well-dressed men saying their vows and exchanging rings. And Rev. Gayle pausing for emphasis before saying “in the power vested in me by the State of New York I declare you spouses for life.” (Thank you New York for making this possible!)
In many American communities weddings of gay male and lesbian couples are rapidly becoming routine, and it appears that a few more states will join the list over the next few months and years. The acceptance of gay marriage has gone from “no states” to “13 and counting” far faster than anyone could have anticipated a few years ago. But one interlude in the service underscored that even this is not fast enough. We do NOT have time to wait.
Before the vows, we paused for “Remembrance” of Biagio and Dan’s parents, all four of whom have passed away, and for siblings who are no longer with us. Political change does take time and effort before it pays off.
But we can never forget the personal – these are real men and women with real families and real lives and it is NOT acceptable to delay any further. Every day that passes there is a proud grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, sibling or close friend … or a spouse … who will be honored in the “Remembrance” instead of sitting in the pew wiping away a tear of joy and love.
Biagio and Dan have both worked for me, and in fact they met at a business meeting in my office, so I was very proud to have been a part of their special day. (Biagio is currently our European Travel Specialist, and Dan was our Marketing Manager for several years).
Best wishes to Dan and Biagio for many happy years together, and I also offer my congratulations to other couples whose marriages have been officially recognized. May more follow soon!