How times change! Not so long ago, the idea of living together before marriage was socially unacceptable. While some couples dared to try it, they dared not do so openly – for the judgment of society could be cruel. Gay couples also were in jeopardy of social condemnation.
In 2014, however, living together before marriage is the rule — the “new normal.” And gay relationships too are becoming mainstream in the eyes of most Americans. Often the old words and assumptions underlying the “traditional” wedding ceremony don’t work anymore and need to be updated. The outdated Victorian notions of the “virgin” bride and groom – and one marriage for life – rarely reflect the circumstances of couples getting married today, who deserve nevertheless to have a wedding that honors them. The modern wedding ceremony should be able to accommodate the reality of children born before wedlock, or the realities of second or third marriages.
In addition, same-gender couples are entitled to a ceremony that captures and respects their experience. I worked with an older same-gender couple a few weeks ago to remove heterosexual biases from their wedding script. After 25 years together, with two children entering high school, the laws of their state have finally recognized the legitimacy of their union. They got a wedding ceremony that befits their deep love and commitment to one another and their family.
If you are gay, have children, contemplating your second, third or fourth marriage, or simply have a different idea about what your marriage ceremony should look like, don’t be shy about asking your Justice of the Peace to modify the language of your ceremony to fit your circumstances and ideas. Of course, most JPs are more than willing to adapt your ceremony in any way that feels meaningful to you. But make sure you select the JP that you feel respects your need to be fully “you” in your wedding ceremony.