Culture Fail: Weddings… A Great Reminder of How Far We Have Yet to Go

Marriage – the current favorite thing to debate in our country. I’ve learned a lot about it lately, as I was married a couple of weeks ago. To out myself a bit, I’m not really into the whole hooplah behind it. In an attempt to turn it into something I can really throw my heart behind, cake turned to donuts, Dragonforce sat next to the Jackson 5 in the playlist, and there was a home-made pinata designed to look like Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. I reclaimed it a bit I guess, and as silly as it sounds, it was an important thing to do. In order for things to be meaningful for me in life, I have to make them personal – the traditional rigamarole was just not going to cut it.

culturefailTo dig a little deeper, my lifemate and I don’t feel like we need approval from anyone to know what we mean to each other. We chose to celebrate it with marriage anyway, however, because it is a large part of our culture and would create a context that could be enjoyed by friends and family. This is a right I believe everyone should have the freedom to express. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

When the two of us, both humanists, went to get our license and learn all of the procedural rules, it became clear very quickly that our government would only allow legal confirmation by an officer of the court, someone associated with a church, or a few other ranking folks. Researching these laws led me to find a crop of faux churches online where atheists can get ordained, links to the Unitarian Universalists, and more. The thing is, we don’t recognize church as part of our lives. That’s our belief, and we felt a need to do right by our own feelings.

According to the law, my beliefs require me to either go to the political/legal church – the courthouse – or to use some kind of loophole with a Celebrant, which is, for me, equally as uncomfortable. Why exactly is this a lesser of two evils choice, and why does it not even stop here? I had a friend in the military that couldn’t become a chaplain because the Department Of Defense doesn’t recognize humanism. And don’t get me wrong – this isn’t even a humanist issue, it’s a person issue. My Christian friends are equally bothered by the entire premise.

Throughout this process I’ve learned a few things, the most important being a newfound, personal connection to those who have it much worse than I do. Members of the gay community in many states, including “progressive” Oregon, aren’t even thrown the insult of a loophole, let alone the respect of the court that I wound up using. Inequality has more excuses made for it every single day than most other injustices do in decades. We’re talking about millions of thinking, breathing, loving people. It shouldn’t matter whether it’s a nitpick or a river of despair.

Also, just to level with you… someone has to do something about the cost of plates, napkins, and silverware. I wish my family would’ve just eaten with their hands so I could have paid for a second honeymoon.

By Johnny Beaver