It’s been an honor for us to watch Glen mature from being a boy to being a man. He’s become a pretty amazing man. He’s smart, and he works hard, and he’s concerned about others. He’s chosen the career he’s chosen partly because he wants to make his life’s work about making life better for others. And Glen loves his family, his mom, his sisters, and his two foster dads. And now he’s starting a family of his own.
I’ve been thinking the last few days about what I would say to our son and to his husband on this day. I hope I’m not embarrassing Glen by telling everyone here that one year after he moved out of our house and started living on his own in campus housing at the University of Minnesota, he called me on the phone one day and said, “I’m starting to learn that some of those things you were trying to tell me all those years are actually true.” That is music to any parent’s ears, as all the parents here will attest. So I would like to try to offer one last piece of advice.
People generally get married because they want to be happy. They want happiness for themselves. They see happy married couples, and they think, I want that kind of happiness. And there is happiness in marriage, a very special kind of happiness. But dig beneath the surface of any marriage and you will also discover a certain amount of anguish. But it is a very special kind of anguish. And that special happiness of marriage and that special anguish are interrelated. This is a mystery, but it is true.
That anguish comes from the fact that you enter into a marriage thinking that this marriage is about your own happiness. But marriage has a special way of teaching you that the highest form of happiness comes from making others happy. And the anguish comes from the painful ways that we learn this lesson. And there’s no guarantee that we will learn this lesson. Whether you learn it or not will be up to the choices you make.
As you know, I am a born-again Mormon. (And Glen has always found that confusing. Gay? Mormon? How do those things co-exist in the same person? And I always forgave Glen for not being able to figure that out because that’s another mystery.) But I am what I am because God spoke to me. And God spoke to me at a particular moment in my life, after a particularly difficult moment in my relationship with Göran. There was a moment in Göran’s and my relationship when we didn’t know if our relationship would survive. It was one of those moments of deep anguish that can come to any marriage. And Göran and I knelt down together in that little hammock room upstairs, and we exchanged wedding rings again, and we made promises to each other again. And in that moment I realized, this marriage had to be about his happiness first. And it was after I had learned that lesson – really learned it deep down in my bones – that I was finally able to hear the voice of God. And I can honestly say that having learned that lesson, Göran and I are happier today than we ever have been before in our lives, and I expect that happiness to grow every day and every year of our lives, and even beyond this life, because, as the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant believed, life has a logic that points us beyond our own mortality.
Glen and Will, we are here because we love you. All of us who are gathered here today are here because we love you. And the people who love you here most of all are the ones who have the word “parent” connected with the way that we love you. I know that from knowing Julie and Paulette and Rob and Göran. Parents have a secret language that only parents understand. And there are things that parents see that only parents can see.
Some of us parents have travelled further than others to be here. And I’m not just talking about the distance your mom Julie traveled from Iowa. For you non-gay parents here, I know it’s a rude shock to learn that your beloved child is gay. I saw my parents go through that. I watched them struggle with that and eventually come to some deeper understanding about that. And my parents and, Will and Glen, your biological parents, were willing to travel that distance because of the unique love that a parent has for a child.
And Glen has two gay foster dads, partly because he requested gay foster parents, and partly because the State of Minnesota agreed that it was a good idea for a gay teen to have parents who could be role models to him. But we have been your parents not because we are gay, but because we have the same quality that all your parents have. We love you deeply. We love you enough that we’d give our lives for you. And we learned that love from marriage, from those particular lessons that marriage teaches a person.
Parents don’t always give the best advice. For example, I think one thing Göran and I told you was that it was very, very, very unlikely that you would end up marrying the first person you dated seriously. We told you you would need to date a number of different guys, and take some time to learn about yourself and learn about others before you could make a decision as important as the decision of who you were going to marry. And here you are! Oh, well.
I’m glad you disregarded that bit of advice. Listening to others, but always, always, always trusting your own hearts will take you far in life.
So don’t listen to every bit of advice we offer. But you can bank on this piece of advice I’ve offered now, today. Glen, put Will first and you will be happy. Will, put Glen first, and you will be happy. You will both be very, very happy.
Always know that we love you!