Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wedding musings and LGBTQ rights: the why behind "the big day"

The boy and I are about to meet with the priest tonight to discuss our wedding plans and I find myself contemplating what the consequences of my choice to agree to marry in a Catholic church really are. You know, aside from the fact that I’m not Catholic and am pretty much as anti-Catholic as it gets.

Two events are directly influencing this inner debate:

1. Having just finished reading Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day, which leaves readers with the question: “What is a marriage for?”
2. The recent media attention that the house of Obama has been getting in regards to its position on gay marriage rights in America.

Now I know that I don’t live in the U.S. and that LGBTQ rights are somewhat more progressive here across the border (in that same sex couples can marry through civil union) but ultimately marriage rights still have a long way to go, what with Harper continually trying to re-open the debate and all.

So what does all this have to do with me and my big fat Catholic wedding? Just that I’m wondering just how thrilled I am to get married in a church/institution that fails to acknowledge the basic human rights that I hold so dear. I mean, what does it say about me if I’m willing to compromise my dearly held beliefs in order to appease others? While I believe that my marriage should be outside the political purview, how can it truly be when so many others are still fighting for their basic rights? Am I just another hetero-normative individual who takes my right to marry for granted? What are the consequences of perpetuating such a discriminatory system? Does it validate and valorize belief systems that I am fundamentally opposed to?

In the battle between my public self and views, and my private family negotiations, I find myself torn. Do I get up on my soapbox and preach to those who will never be converted in order to sleep with a clear conscience (note the irony: the angst cause by such an action would actually probably prevent sleep) or do I keep quiet, tread water, and maintain the peace in order to smooth over family relations? Are all battles worth fighting when winning them means losing something else? I’ve been raised with the notion that you catch more flies with honey, but when do you say fuck the honey and go straight for the bitter pill of reality?

Mead’s book asked interviewed couples and readers: What is a marriage for, particularly in light of the fact that the western marriage tradition is becoming so inundated with consumerism and lack of spiritual meaning? The divorce statistics are staggering and yet we invest so much time and money on one single day. Our one special, perfect day that is supposed to define who we are, which is particularly ironic when we consider that most people consider a marriage a celebration/party and no longer a spiritual union.

Am I bitter about the big fat Wedding Industry? Yes, absolutely. Do I look at my wedding price tag and want to cry, especially when I think about my student loan and people in need? Without a doubt! And yet here I am, just 3.5 months out, facing the last stretch of a ceremony and tradition that are becoming more and more problematic and controversial to me. Don’t get me wrong: I grew up with a wedding fantasy. I’m all about wedding porn. I wanted the big day and I wanted to be married. For all my artsy, bohemian ways, being married was and still is a very important rite of passage to me.

But given the politics and consumerism surrounding weddings, I no longer know if I can identify the reasons why.

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