Friday, June 21, 2013

From Column/Blog: "Going to the Chapel...Just Not Quite Yet

Here you go!

I like weddings. I'm also very knowledgeable about weddings, which comes from various first-hand experiences. I've played the role of guest; relative to bride or groom; groomsman; best man; was a groom; wedding coordinator; and organist or pianist. I am most often the celebrant of weddings as a Presbyterian minister. My parents were married for over 50 years. Like them, I married my best friend from high school days. We celebrated 21 years together, welcoming two wonderful children into our lives. As a pastor and seminary professor I taught people about the importance of the rituals of weddings, in which we embody the blessings of God while recognizing the blessings are themselves discovered in the rituals.
All that changed when I came out of my gay closet. Our marriage soon came to an end when I gathered up the courage to live honestly. Soon after, my partner Dean and I bought a house. We've lived together for 17 years. Over time, my children, Dean, their mom, and I have spent years celebrating holidays, birthdays, and graduation. This was all done without a wedding or being married. We cannot wed because North Carolina's constitution defines marriage as between a man and woman.
Living outside of marriage yet being in a significant long-term relationship is like being a visitor in an unknown country with a strange language: are we partners or lovers? We're not husbands. On top of that, an unexpected offshoot of living outside marriage is that my children are hesitant about getting married. Recent studies show that many children of LGBTQ parents are finding themselves reluctant to get married. In an article by Alexis Coe in The Atlantic Monthly, she cited research by Abbie Goldberg of Clark University showing that many young straight adults had "complicated" feelings and reactions about getting married overall, all of them sensitive towards their same-sex parents' inability to marry.

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