Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Slow Export of Mass. Marriage

This afternoon, my wife and I were literally in the clichéd position of being in the neighborhood, this time of the two men whose marriage I solemnized late last year. When we stopped by, we found that they had just returned yesterday from a long trip to a huge family reunion in South Carolina.

The one who grew up there is the eldest of a large family and has been out to them for decades. Most of his hundreds of relatives remain relatively close to home. They are black, Protestant, and almost all straight. His partner has always been welcome, but the particulars of their personal life together has not been a matter for confrontation, scolding or other negative conversation.

Yet raised as a Southerner myself, I understand that it is considered very rude to figuratively peek into another's bedroom, gay or straight. Your mother may be the only person with the right to ask direct questions.

I had to ask before we left whether they discussed or even mentioned their marriage. They did not.

They referred to each other as my partner. In such a conventional and largely rural environment, that message alone packs a wallop. They guy figured that the relatives would have been quite uncomfortable with the knowledge. It's likely that many don't even know it's possible here for two men to marry.

Anyway, a good time was had by all and each of them has the family-reunion t-shirt.

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