The release of my latest book, Legally Wed, has me thinking a lot about marriage. Gay. Straight. And to illustrate the course my thinking takes, here’s an example of two weddings—one gay and one straight—that my husband Bruce and I attended a couple of summers ago.
Two summers ago, Bruce and I were honored to be among the guests celebrating the nuptials of our dear friends, Chris Lopez and Jeffrey Martel. We have known the couple since they first met and couldn’t have been happier to be a part of the joy, love, and happiness that was part of this special day.
The wedding had several unique things going for it. For one, the setting: groom and groom stood said their vows outdoors, within the wolf and elk habitat of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo as their backdrop. Seeing big-tusked elk meandering about behind Jeff and Chris and the minister was a bit surreal, but somehow fitting: the wildlife setting complemented what was a very natural joining together of two people in love, committed to the other. When the ceremony paused for the classical quartet to play a lovely rendition of “Ave Maria”, it seemed the wolf pack to the right of the ceremony actually paused to listen. They had been restless before and, honest to God, they all quieted and became still as the music floated out on the summer night air.
I wanted to list a bunch of other things that made this wedding unique, but you know what? I can’t think of another one. And that’s a good thing.
Later that same summer, Bruce and I went to the wedding of his niece in Minnesota to her groom and the thing that struck me about these two weddings–one gay and one straight–was not their differences, but their similarities.
Both were held outdoors in a gorgeous setting (our niece was married to her husband in a botanical garden), settings one might say were blessed with both temperate weather and an abundance of natural beauty. Both had a misty-eyed captive audience, united in witnessing the joining of two lives as they began their journeys together down life’s highway. Both, and this one is the most important, displayed a palpable feeling of love and happiness as not only the couple getting married was swept up in the joy of the moment, but also their friends and family.
After Jeff and Chris’s wedding, we headed inside for dinner, where a Grizzly bear, not three feet away in his sanctuary, watched from behind a glass wall (a heavy glass wall). We then all moved to another building for dessert and dancing.
At the reception, the same feeling persisted: the atmosphere of love and commitment, strong enough to be like a scent in the air.
I said to Bruce, “You know, if some of those people who opposed gay marriage could be here tonight and see all these people—friends, family, wedding party—coming together with such happiness and deep love, I think they might see this day as not something to be opposed, or hated, or feared, but exactly what it is: two people who love one another and who want to make a lifelong commitment to the other and have that promise witnessed by the people they hold dear.”
I’d like to believe that the folks who oppose gay marriage do it out of fear or ignorance. I’d like to think they’ve never had the privilege of witnessing what we saw last night—the spiritual uniting of two people. How, I wonder, could anyone be opposed to something as pure and simple—and profound—as love.
Because marriage—gay, straight—is really just about that: love. And it’s not about what’s between our legs, but what’s between our ears…and in our hearts.
Love is love. Why on earth, or in God’s name, would anyone want to deny that to their fellow man or woman? We can only be strengthened, as families, as a society, by encouraging and celebrating love and commitment.
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