Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Marrying in MA, III

A couple of ministers have accused me (jocularly I think) of poaching. I doubt my two weddings I have conducted are much of a threat to a standard ministerial side business, not even with the pending third one.

Certainly the then unique provision in MA (General laws Ch. 207, §39) that permitted citizen solemnization was an inspiration for this blog. Along with the Goodridge decision legalizing same-sex marriage, we were, to co-opt a winger phrase for a real meaning, marriage friendly. Postings here from 2004 discuss my discovery of the wonders of being able to solemnize friends' marriages.

Subsequent copying of our solemnizing laws by California is not exactly a trend. They did do us one better, in that they did not also copy the limit of one wedding per year for a designated solemnizer. There, without being a justice of the peace, judge or other official, plain folk can churn 'em out.

Subsequently, I bemoaned my infrequency of solemnizing. I got to do one couple before SSM here and another afterward, one straight and one gay. Both couples were long-term friends. When I tell people from elsewhere or even those from here who aren't aware of the possibility, their reaction is always along the line, "What a great idea! It must be really moving to do that." Indeed it is.

After a long, dry-eyed spell, I get to do another. The eldest of my three sons will marry here in June. (The accompany image is from awhile ago, although a moment in a father's mind. He appears somewhat differently today.)

Not surprisingly, the couple has no interest in the old standard ceremony, such as from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Nor are they hippies or New Age sorts, who might lift Hindu walking vows or Gaea invocation. So, I get to create an original that relates to their commitments and vows, drawing on their characters and my long-term marital experiences.

This may well be my last solemnizing. I long ago had to give up on doing one a year. One of my minister friends then in his 80s spoke of his own children and grandchildren, thinking ahead to mine. In effect he said that young adults today don't view marriage the same as his generation or mine. Many will never marry and a permanent living-together relationship was surely a norm.

He and I know enough about the culture and history of marriage to deride the anti-gay/anti-marriage equality sorts. They would have it that the very new addition of same-sex marriage somehow caused the decades-old decline in marriage rates. He and I figure that if people are ready for the commitment — and it is legal for them — they'll marry.

I was one of the last of my friends to marry. In fact, several had already divorced by the time I found someone who did not create a real or imagined reason in my mind not to marry. Tomorrow that will have been 35 years. I want at least as much for our first son.

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