Friday, February 22, 2008

Marriage: Reluctant Gays and Lesbians Not Rushing to Say "I Do"

On, there is an interesting article about the "Gay Marriage Slump," by Caren Chesler, in which she notes that getting married among those of us who are gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender, is not as "easy" or "painless" as many thought it could be.

As a pastor who has wed over one hundred couples, and as one who has been married but is now divorced, let me say that while one can get married for as little as the $45 or $50 it costs to get the marriage license (let alone the cost of a wedding), it costs a great deal more to get divorced. There are couples that I was present at their wedding who, after being in a marriage for several years, countless hours of therapy, prayers to God for help, children, jobs, extended family intrusions, decided to sign off on the marriage because the "worse" part of the "for better or for worse, in good times and bad" relationship had taken over.

I'm glad--no, relieved--that gay and lesbian couples are doing what more straight couples should do: not rush into marriage! I've married too many heterosexual couples who simply got married because they felt pushed by their families, or the great American script of "happily ever after," and the "biological clock" that determined, for some, that they should get married before having a baby. I met and married too many heterosexual couples who were in "wonder lust" or just plain lust, more than thinking sanely and with a clear head about what they were about to commit themselves to: a life together of an everlasting quality and goal.

Marriage is an important, vital, communal, relational union, in which a wedding--whether or not it is understood as a sacrament or simply a timeless ritual--makes public what two people have felt, thought, intuited, sensed, and believed in for a long time. Couples therapy before people get married is a must in my book; spending a good few years in something called an "engagement period" isn't bad either. Go on an "Engagement Encounter" weekend. It is important that couples get to know each other well--through times of celebration and the "thin times" when everything goes wrong--before saying, "Will you?" and "I do."

Separating and divorcing is miserable, not fun, and can be ugly, heart wrenching, and mostly sad...let alone what the state and federal governments, along with businesses have you do once you separate and try to divide evenly the assets a couple has together. Messy does not begin to describe what is happening when a couple divorces, gay and straight alike.

Bravo to gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender, and straight people who think seriously before they say "I do," whether in a domestic partnership, civil union, common-law marriage, or marriage. What a great habit to practice!

Click here for the article.



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