Monday, May 19, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage: Does the State Have Divinely Recognized Power?

With the recent news from the Golden State, Göran and I have begun discussing plans to Go West. We held our own non-state-recognized wedding ceremony in August 1995, an event attended by our immediate (and extended) family, friends and community. In our hearts, that will always be our true wedding anniversary. But the California Supreme Court ruling opens up the possibility of tying the knot in some way that also carries some legal recognition.

I believe that the state DOMA ("Defense of Marriage Act") laws are unconstitutional, and a violation of the "good faith" clause of the Constitution. Mitt Romney stemmed the tide of challenges to DOMA laws by invoking an old Massachusetts law used to prevent inter-racial marriage by out-of-state couples. But California has no such discriminatory statutes on its books. Non-Californian same-sex couples will get married there and will take up residence in their DOMA states, and eventually some DOMA law somewhere will be challenged. And when it is ruled unconstitutional, Göran and I won't have to scratch and fight to get all of the hundreds of legal protections that come with marriage. That's my thinking any hoo.

But for me there is something deeper at work here than just getting temporal legal protections for our relationship. When I first came out to my bishop a couple of years ago, the first question out of his mouth was, "Are you and your partner legally married?" To him, it seemed to matter. The fact that religious conservatives throughout the country have been working overtime to block same-sex marriage seems -- to me -- to indicate that in their minds it also matters. State-sanctioned, legal marriage makes a difference in our minds and hearts, not just to tax and estate accountants.

By legally tying the knot in California, will Göran and I be saying that we are full and equal citizens and have a right to be recognized as full and equal alongside everyone else?

Yes, that's part of it.

But for me it is also a statement about our commitment to good order. Our commitment to aligning our personal lives with our larger family life with our community life with our national political life with the order of Divine love that is supposed to rule (but does not yet in fact perfectly rule) the entire Cosmos. In my reading of scripture, the state is supposed to have a divine mandate, though it does not yet perfectly reflect this. And I'm pretty sure that this is why, when push comes to shove, the whole gay marriage debate has become so contentious. Because some folks say we gay people have a rightful place in that Divine Order, and others say we are a cosmic mistake that will be corrected in the next life and that such mistakes are not recognized by God and should not be recognized by law.

But deep in my heart, I know that is wrong. Our love is real. It is a growing, nurturing, powerful thing that has produced good, for us individually, for us as a couple and for our foster son, for our larger extended families, and for the community and nation we are members of. We have been and are blessed by God in our relationship, and no political sniping nor religious right slogans or coups can ultimately take away the power of our love nor the dignity of our persons.

So we're planning a trip to California.


MoHoHawaii said...


Where's the honeymoon going to be? You left that part out.

May I suggest the Pacific Northwest? I'd be happy to put you up for a visit here in Seattle.

J G-W said...

Thanks for the offer! We might just take you up on it! If not for our honeymoon, at some other time.

My brother just moved to Riverside, in the L.A. area, so one thing we were thinking of doing was visiting him, getting married in his neck of the woods, and then having our honeymoon (with Glen) at Disneyland.

Anonymous said...

I rarely comment on blog postings. But you seem to be the perfect example of someone who has reconciled his homosexuality and his Mormonism. I hope you can get the marriage legally recognized. I hope you can continue your place in Mormonism. And I hope that the church can change in order to value what an incredible person you are. You should be the bishop. :)

Beck said...

This is inspiring! Can I come?

I second the "bishop" comment, and since bishops are required to be married, how appropriate... :)

J G-W said...

Beck, you are invited. I would love to have you at our wedding ceremony. And I really mean that.

I don't know about being bishop. In my fantasy gay ward, -L- would be bishop.

Eleanor's Papa said...

Eleanor's Daddy also responded to the California decision by making plans for a CA trip. But we can actually see Canada from our window, and he's never suggested going there to get married, even though marriage is already legal and (as with Minnesota) a lot closer to home. Why is CA more real?

J G-W said...

Well, of course for U.S. citizens, California would be more real.

And of course, California is more real in the sense that our Constitution technically requires other states to recognize marriages contracted there.

But apparently getting married in Canada was enough to save Buckley Jeppson from excommunication. What's with that?

For us, the synchronicity is so odd. Göran and I would have gotten married in Canada long ago (only a few hours drive from Minneapolis), but for the fact that Göran did not have his birth certificate and therefore could not get a passport.

Now isn't it odd? Just as we finally resolved that problem, and finally really had the option to go to Canada, we have this new option to go to California.

-L- said...

Congrats! Many happy wishes for you both getting things legally settles the way you like. As for me being bishop, I respectfully LMAO.

Maraiya said...

Congratulations! I was going to ask if MN would have to acknowledge a marriage contracted in CA, but you answered that. I hope the trip and wedding is just beautiful!

Becky and Joseph said...

Hey don't forget Us... Becky and I really miss you guys and can't wait to see you again. I can't believe its been 8 months already that you where at our wedding.

J G-W said...

Hey Joe and Becky - We're going to call you!