Friday, July 3, 2015

Same Sex Marriage: A Long Time Coming

(If you don't know Prayer and Politics by Ken Sehested--check it out. (
I am indebted to him for this picture and the words that go with them.

Just amazing. Vivian Boyack, age 91 (at left in the photo), and Alice “Nonie” Dubes, age 90, have been together for 72 years, and this past weekend they tied the knot in Davenport, Iowa. “This is a celebration of something that should have happened a very long time ago,” said Rev. Linda Hunsaker who performed their wedding. (Photo by Thomas Geyer)

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As I write these words I think of my son, Matthew and his partner, Mark whom I married just last June in Philadelphia. It was the first same-sex wedding I have performed. This is what I said in the service.

"This is the beginning of a great week-end. For beginning tomorrow friends, family and loved ones will come together to celebrate 25 years that you all have been together. But today is different from just marking this partnership of 25 years.

What you did 25 years ago was a private matter between two persons. Society did not give you full rights and privileges that all citizens should have. You were put in a different category of simply not fitting in...of being so different from everyone else that you had no legal or religious status in your relationship.

Thank God this is changing before our very eyes. For granting gay people the right to be married makes what has been a private matter a public and legal event of enormous consequences. But it goes much further than this--it proclaims a truth that has always been there--you are just like everyone else--and the false categories we have put around gay people are falling away.

So what you did 25 years ago is now acceptable in this state (Pennsylvania) and many other states. Nobody knows the struggles you both have gone through your whole lives to be where you are. To be told by culture and government and church and families and even friends that there is something wrong with you...that you don't fit in...that you're not like everyone else--that you should not be who you are--is a terrible thing. And yet--despite whatever you have had to overcome--and that has been a lot--you found each other and you established a relationship which is life-affirming and as fine as you will find in any marriage. And so we applaud you for that. So--this is an important day and we all rejoice with you.

Wallace Stegner is a great writer and in one of his books he writes:

"It is something--it can be everything--to have found a fellow bird with whom you can sit among the rafters while the drinking and boasting and reciting and fighting go on below; a fellow bird whom you can look after and find bugs and seeds for; one who will patch your bruises and straighten your ruffled feathers and mourn over your hurts when you accidentally fly into something you can't handle."*

And so I ask you both the same questions I ask every other couple who wish to be married. Mark and Matthew--do you take each other to live in the holy estate of marriage? Will you love each other...comfort each other...honor and keep each other in sickness and in health and that forsaking all will be faithful to each other as long as you shall live?

Then I ask you both to repeat after me the old marriage promise, which people have been saying for hundreds of years.

I, Matthew take you Mark, to be my beloved have and to hold, from this day forward...for better, for worse...for richer or for sickness and in love and to cherish my whole life long. I give you this promise that I made to you 25 years ago.

(I then asked Mark the same thing.)

Because you have made your promises to one another...and have already sealed that promise with 25 good years...I declare that you are now married not only by the state of Pennsylvania...but also in the presence of God who celebrates the joy and wonder when two people come to this place.

Let us pray:

Lord God, we thank you for Matthew and Mark and for this special day in their lives. We also thank you for every tributary along the way that has brought them to this good place. Be with them in all the days to come...keep them safe from danger and may your promised goodness and mercy follow them all the days of their lives. Amen.

*Wallace Stegner, The Spectator Bird (New York: Doubleday), 1976) p. 213

--Roger Lovette /

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