It goes without saying that there are many different ways to celebrate a relationship. Some tie the knot after six months of knowing each other, while others decide never to take the plunge. Some believe a marriage before God in their church or other place of worship is the way to go, while others will opt for a date with the county clerk, or even just a night out celebrating with friends and family.
In the LGBT commmunity, we have to get even more creative. And in some ways, the curse of no federal – or, in Michigan’s case, state – recognition can be a blessing. Just think of yourself or any gay or lesbian couples you know who’ve gotten hitched. Never do we settle for bland, by-the-book weddings. And that’s something to celebrate in itself.
Some of us choose to go to other states in the U.S. to be wed legally – at least until we cross state lines. We’ll flock to the unlikelist of wedding destinations – Washington, D.C., New Hampshire, Iowa – to sign a paper, bring a witness and pay a fee to complete that oh-so-sacred tradition, even if it means nothing to our state and federal government.
Others of us here in Michigan make the shorter trip over to Canada, where Ontario and other provinces (and eventually the whole country) was the go-to option for same-sex couples looking to wed in 2003, before Massachusetts leapt to the forefront of marriage equality the next year. Still, many Michigan couples choose to stay closer to home – or better yet, get wed on the local waters that divide our countries.
Still others throw off the notion of marriage in any form, and opt for a different type of celebration for their relationship. Commitment ceremony, un-wedding – call it what you will, but for many LGBT couples, it is a way to assert their pride in their relationship without conforming or admitting the shortcomings of U.S. and local laws on the matter.
In this issue of Between The Lines, you’ll find an array of stories running the gamut of same-sex celebratory ceremonies. Jim and Ron all took a road trip across the U.S., ending eight hours west in Iowa, where they were wed. Natalie and Kristen held their un-wedding ceremony to commemorate their 10-year anniversary. Event planner Carrie Copeland is currently planning her own wedding – and hoping to help others do the same.
And Tom and Tom, a local couple from Lathrup Village, admitted that despite their decision to wed in Iowa, the feelings of commitment that come with marriage were their long before the legal certificate. For the couple, who have been together 30 years, getting married felt no different than every other day of their lives they had spent celebrating their love.
And that’s the way it should be.
Marriage rights are at the forefront of LGBT equality fights in the news, in the courts and in the minds of gay and lesbian U.S. citizens. Sometimes, the endeavor can seem daunting and the goal, impossible. But it’s not just about the rights and privileges, as important as they are. If we only care about those, we miss the whole point of marriage, or commitment, or un-wedding: celebrating love. And no constituency, court, or legislature can ever take that away.