A Word in Edgewise: No Putting It Back in the Bottle
I’ve been to several weddings and receptions for couples married since August 1 of 2013. Not an odd experience for a friend, but these events, as you’ve probably figured, were for same-sex couples that could not have been legally married before in Minnesota. More than a few of those couples had already been together for anywhere from several years to several decades. Perhaps because my own (hetero) nuptials, over a half-century ago, had lasted a scant two-years-less-two-days, but it seems to me that any couple, having lived together 32 years and still wanting to legally wed when able, sends a special kind of message.
In nearly every society, one finds ceremonies that define a person’s place in his or her community, that clearly indicate to individuals in their village, town, city, or country, that the person is no longer just a child, girl or boy, but one who has reached adulthood and accepts its attendant privileges and duties. Bar and bat mitzvahs, sweet 16 and quinceañera, scarification, pain endurance, debuting at a formal cotillion; the ceremonies can be religious, social, or spiritual, but each is a signifier for a particular status and bestows power on those who successfully undergo the rite or ritual.
In the United States we have few national signifiers, but one central ceremony remains and is recognized nationwide: marriage. With the SCOTUS granting of all United States citizens the right to marry, every member of society is now included and recognized when of age, ready to parent children, pay taxes, and claim those exemptions to which married couples have long had access.
While, as we have seen lately in the news out of Kentucky and other areas, there is still resentment of gays and lesbians, and continued attempts to deny these citizens the rights they themselves hold dear. “Yet,” as Galileo Gallilei is alleged to have said to his inquisitors, “it does move.” The earth does spin about the sun, and events here on earth continue in their own momentum. Times are changing, and acceptance is abroad in the land. Americans like fair play.
So bring on those joyous weddings celebrated by grooms’ and brides’ parents, nieces, nephews, friends — yes, children — happy for the happy couple. They’re here; they will continue.