The Most Popular Reading at a Gay Wedding Ceremony

The most popular reading during gay wedding ceremonies has tremendous meaning. It's historical. It's beautifully written.  It speaks volumes about the significance of a marriage.  And it was written by a lawyer...

Well, a judge actually.  The most popular reading during gay wedding ceremonies is part of the ruling which legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts (the first state to have legal gay marriage).  It was written by Judge Margaret Marshall from the State Supreme Judicial Court.  While this is by no means the whole ruling, the passage below is the long version and  is often excerpted into smaller chunks:

"Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For  those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations....Without question, civil marriage enhances the "welfare of the community." It is a "social institution of the highest importance." ...

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.... Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and  connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition."

I hope you consider including a piece of history in your wedding ceremony.

Have you written your wedding ceremony yet or are you using a script provided by your officiant?

A History Lesson: Gay Marriage Timeline (in the US)

A History Lesson – the timeline of gay marriage in the US

  • November 18, 2003: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court gives the state legislature 180 days to enact same-sex marriage. 
  • February 11, 2004: The Massachusetts General Court (legislature) completes the first step in a process that would ban same-sex marriage. The process is not continued. 
  • February 12 – March 11, 2004: The Mayor San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, orders City Hall to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • May 17, 2004: Same-sex marriage starts in Massachusetts. 
  • August 12, 2004: The California Supreme Court rules that the San Francisco marriages are void. 
  • September 29, 2005: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes a same-sex marriage bill that was approved by the legislature.. 
  • October 12, 2007: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes same-sex marriage bill that was approved by the legislature. 
  • May 15, 2008: The Supreme Court of California overturns the state's ban on same-sex marriage. 
  • June 16, 2008: Same-sex marriage starts in California. 
  • September 10, 2008: HB436, a bill that seeks to "eliminates the exclusion of same gender couples from marriage", is submitted to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. 
  • October 10, 2008: The Supreme Court of Connecticut orders same-sex marriage legalized. 
  • November 4, 2008: California voters pass Proposition 8, amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. 
  • November 5, 2008: Proposition 8 takes effect in California, stopping new same-sex marriage licenses from being issued after this date. 
  • November 12, 2008: Same-sex marriage starts in Connecticut. 
  • March 26, 2009: HB436 supporting same-sex marriage passes the New Hampshire House of Representatives. 
  • April 3, 2009: The Iowa Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage. 
  • April 6, 2009: A same-sex marriage bill is passed by the Vermont General Assembly and then vetoed by the governor. 
  • April 7, 2009: The Vermont General Assembly overrides the governor's veto of the same-sex marriage bill. 
  • b Connecticut governor signs legislation which statutorily legalizes same-sex marriage (see Oct. 10 and Nov. 12, 2008), and also converts any existing civil unions into marriages as of October 1, 2010. 
  • April 27, 2009: Same-sex marriage starts in Iowa. 
  • April 29, 2009: HB436 supporting same-sex marriage passes the New Hampshire Senate with minor amendments. 
  • May 6, 2009: Maine Governor Baldacci signs Marriage Equality Bill. The New Hampshire House of Representatives concurs with the Senate's amendments to HB436, and the bill supporting same-sex marriage advances to Governor John Lynch. 
  • May 12, 2009: A same-sex marriage bill passes in the lower house New York Assembly. 
  • May 26, 2009: The California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8, but also upholds the marriage rights of the 18,000 same-sex couples married while same-sex marriage had been briefly legalized. 
  • June 3, 2009: The New Hampshire General Court passes new HB73, which includes protections for religious institutions, as required by Gov. John Lynch to secure his signature on HB436, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Gov. Lynch signs both bills the same day. 
  • September 1, 2009: Same-sex marriage starts Vermont. 
  • September 14, 2009: Same-sex marriage was scheduled to start in Maine, but was put on hold because enough signatures were collected to make this a ballot initiative. 
  • November 3, 2009:  Voters in Maine voted down gay marriage, therefore nullifying the law passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.
  • December 15, 2009:  The DC Council voted to legalize gay marriage and the bill was signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty three days later.
  • January 1, 2010: Same-sex marriage starts in New Hampshire.
What's the status of gay marriage where you live?

Certified Copy of Your Marriage License

It sounds like such a boring topic but the reality is that if you want to change your name or get on your spouse's health insurance plan, or get new passports after your gay marriage, you need a certified copy of your marriage license.

After you get married, the state of Massachusetts and the cities don't send you a single thing in the mail.  It's all on file in some ginormous filing room somewhere.  As far as they're concerned, you're married and they don't need to remind you of that fact.

But you still need that certified copy.  Since many of our clients live in other states, sometime after the wedding, they have to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to City Hall with another form filled out, and a few weeks after that, they'll get the certified copy in the mail.  It's one more step couples have to go through.

Beginning in 2010, 14 Stories will obtain certified copies of your marriage license for you, saving you the time and hassle.  You won't even have to think about it anymore.  The certified copy will come in the mail about a month after your gay wedding.  Pretty easy stuff, so you can then go get your name changed or just frame it for posterity.

50,000 New York Couples

I feel terrible for the 50,000 same-sex couples in New York who will not be able to legally marry because the NY Senate defeated the gay marriage bill yesterday by a vote of 38-24.

The silver lining is that about a year and a half ago, Governor Paterson ordered NY to recognize the marriages of gay couples that were performed in states where gay marriage is legal.  Since then, I've helped a bunch of couples in Massachusetts and I know many more have gone right over the border to Connecticut.

For now, New York, this is not a bad situation to settle for, given that most other states won't recognize a gay marriage at all.  At least there's New England...

If you are from New York, has yesterday's defeat changed your wedding plans?  Did you expect the bill to pass?

Name Changes for Gay Couples

One of the questions I get commonly from my out of state clients is how they change their name after marriage.  Here in Massachusetts, you write your new last name on your marriage application and the certified copy you can order will have the new name.  That certified copy will be accepted by the Social Security administration and the RMV.  This works in Massachusetts - but what happens when you return home to wherever you are from?

Anti-Discrimination Laws

A lot of people were surprised today when I mentioned on Twitter that yes, it's legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in most places.

In fact, there are only 13 states (plus DC) which explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation AND gender identity (gender identity is a lesson for another day).  I hope you are lucky to live in the great states of:
  • Minnesota
  • Rhode Island
  • New Mexico
  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • Washington
  • Iowa
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Colorado
Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Nevada, Maryland, New York and Delaware are an additional 8 states that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only. 

That's a total of 21 states (plus DC) where it would be illegal to discriminate against a same-sex couple, meaning in 29 states, a wedding vendor could legally deny services to a same-sex couple.  The PDF map of state laws is found here.

This is why screening vendors is so important!  Where does your state stand?

Thoughts on Maine and Other States

I've been thinking a lot about the great state of Maine.

The news early yesterday that voters decided not to allow gay marriage was hard to swallow. After all, it's been a great year for gay marriage with it coming to Iowa (through a court case) and Vermont and New Hampshire (through legislation). It almost felt like it was a given.

The thousands of volunteers who went door to door and called strangers throughout the state to ask for their support of gay marriage, should be applauded. It's hard work, getting out the vote, trying to be persuasive in 15 seconds before they hang up the phone or slam the door. I didn't go up there and I didn't volunteer. I feel absolutely horribly guilty about this.

Maine is a wonderful place and someday will be an excellent destination for gay weddings. It's coastline and mountains provide unparalleled scenery. Its people are kind in the New England way of being kind. And 47% of those people said YES to gay marriage, more than ever before. That's progress.

Most people I've spoken to have had a strange week. Maybe it was the full moon on Monday but things have been slightly off. I do think, though, that we have reason to be optimistic. Washington State voters approved a comprehensive domestic partners act. And although New Jersey voters voted out Gov. Corzine, he has indicated that he'd sign a gay marriage bill before he leaves office and his anti-gay marriage successor takes over. That means that, fingers crossed, New Jersey could be next.

In the big picture, this defeat in Maine is just a small setback. In fact, a Washington Post/ABC poll from earlier this year, indicated that more people supported gay marriage than opposed it. I know it seems surprising given the will of the voters in California a year ago and Maine this year, but we must keep the good fight.

I will keep planning legal gay weddings in the places I can plan them, and those guests whose hearts and minds were changed will tell their neighbors how beautiful it was. Those neighbors will tell their friends and someone else's gay son will get married and it'll be another beautiful day and more walls of resistance will crumble. That's the way it works and that's why I do what I do.


How to Green a Gay Wedding

Eco-weddings are on my brain recently.  I love them and am committed to being a green company and will soon be profiling green wedding expert, Katie Martin.

I was recently interviewed for an article and was asked if gay weddings were inherently more eco-friendly than straight weddings. 

Strange question, right?  I wonder if I was asked because there's an assumption that gay couples are more socially progressive and being more progressive equals more eco-friendly?  Here's my answer:

Why Gay Weddings are More Eco-Friendly:
The vast majority of gay wedding ceremonies do not occur in places of worship because many religions will not officiate gay weddings (another topic altogether).  The majority of gay wedding ceremonies occur in the same space as the wedding reception. This means less travel/fewer fossil fuels consumed = greener wedding.  (And that's before we talk about reducing paper, locally grown food, etc.)

And Why They are Not:

At this moment, there are currently four states where you can legally have a gay marriage:  Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa. I've had gay couples come from over 20 different states to Massachusetts this year to work with me.  The fuel consumed for travel required for couples and their guests to go to a state where they can have a legal wedding cancels out any advantage gained by having the ceremony and reception in the same space.  Thus, marriage inequality = less eco-friendly weddings.

So truly, what is the best way to green a gay wedding?

How about purchasing carbon offset credits for your gay wedding?  Or supporting marriage equality?

For those who don't know, It's About Time makes a donation to a charity on a client's first anniversary.  Both carbon offset credits and a donation to HRC are options listed in our contract.

YouTube Series

I'll be uploading videos to YouTube every week, starting with this one where I'm talking about how my company was founded 5 years ago in response to the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts.

The Final Word on Prop 8

My heart truly breaks for marriage equality today. California's Supreme Court upheld the Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage, though allowed the 18,000 marriages that already took place to stay valid.  I have a few friends who had City Hall weddings in California last year, and I am glad their marriage still works, but for the others who never got that far, I am so sorry.  And I hope that you do something about it by volunteering with, donating to or otherwise supporting Equality California.  Marc Solomon and Amy Mello, formerly of the MassEquality team who preserved gay marriage in Massachusetts are now working in California to restore gay marriage - they are geniuses but they need tons of grassroots support.

I blogged all about Prop 8 a few months ago so be sure to check that post.

Protests are happening tonight.  I wish I was there.  In my heart tonight are my dear friends Jen and Marne who married the day before last Election Day in California, and who are having a public ceremony with friends and family this Saturday.