Choices: Attend a Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony — Or Not?

I was honored to serve as the Best Man for two great guys who were married this past Saturday. (Read this post for more details and links to past posts about these guys).

Before their big day, I had some long discussions with these guys about who they would invite to their marriage ceremony, and who they actually expected to attend. So who actually attended?

First, let me clarify — they did not have a “wedding.” Like me, they are regular guy-guys, and they are not into the frilly froo-froo hyper-gay (sometimes labeled as effeminate) trappings of a wedding — flowers, tuxes, having their hair done, choosing a DJ for music or a photographer or … whatever. Nope, much like my spouse and me, they wanted to have a meaningful ceremony, but without frills or the craziness that women and effeminate gay men seem to get excited about when talking about or planning weddings.

Both of these guys work in masculine professions — one is a cop, and one is a firefighter. The cop, in particular, had some difficulty coming out at work and being public about having a relationship with a man. But that eventually got worked out and he was no worse for the outcome.

The firefighter had it easier. There were at least two other gay men that his fellow firefighters knew. The cop, though, thought he was the only gay man in his district (or so he felt. He found out later that there were other gay men, but they chose to keep their sexual orientation quiet. Some may say they were closeted.)

The cop, Tom, grew up in a strong Catholic family. He went to Catholic school through high school, and continued to be active in his parish in his adult life. His parents and two siblings also were/are very devout in their Catholic faith.

It was difficult for Tom to introduce Chad, his partner, to his family, but he did about a year ago. His parents took some time to come around, but both his mother and father eventually arrived at the conclusion that as long as he was happy and that Chad was a decent and honest man, that they could accept their son being gay and in a serious relationship with another man. They were happy that Tom found love. Both attended the marriage ceremony.

Tom’s older sister, though, still had a lot of heartache over the whole situation. She sent Tom a text saying that she “just couldn’t come to your wedding.” That hurt, but Tom expected it. Tom’s 12-year younger brother attended, and seemed genuinely happy for his brother. He kidded around a lot with Chad, so it’s obvious they like each other.

Chad was raised Catholic also, but not as adherent to the teachings of the Church. He referred to himself and his family as “occasional Catholics.” Chad resented how much the Catholic church was, as far as he was concerned, living “don’t ask/don’t tell” among the priesthood. He generally found the Church to be hypocritical. So it didn’t bother him (too much) that his (former) Church didn’t approve of same-sex marriage.

Chad also has one brother and one sister. All of his family — parents and siblings — attended the marriage ceremony.

What made Tom happiest was that his work partner attended with his wife; his Division Commander attended, also with his wife; and a representative of the Chief’s office. The Police Chief himself was out of town on business, but sent a nice card and gift via his rep and apologized for not being able to be there. That was really nice. These were the only work colleagues that Tom invited.

Tom also invited four close friends who he knew all his life. Three of the four attended — one was sick with the flu and couldn’t come, or he would have been there.

Chad was really surprised that his whole work crew — seven fellow firefighters — and his Lieutenant, Captain, and Battalion Chief also attended, along with a representative of the County Fire Chief’s office. Again, the Chief couldn’t make it, but sent a rep with a card and gift just like the Police Chief did.

My spouse and I were there. I was honored to be asked to stand with them during the ceremony as their Best Man. I gave each of them the rings during the ceremony that they slipped onto each other’s fingers. When they said their traditionally-worded marriage vows, I couldn’t help but get a little teary.

My spouse, ever the one to eschew social events, sat quietly in the back of the room most of the time, but when the marriage ceremony was concluded, he joined everyone else to shake their hands and wish them well — standing beside me. (Aside, Tom’s father said to me, “so you’re the one who helped my son deal with all this. Thanks.”)

All-in-all, it was a small ceremony, as both Tom and Chad wanted it to be. No big event with fanfare and frills. The most important people to them were there, or would have been if they were not sick or on travel. Except Tom’s sister, but to each her own. (Tom has had other “issues” with his sister over the years. They have not been close.)

After the marriage ceremony, the fire department auxiliary served a light lunch. An hour later, we bid our farewells as Tom and Chad had a flight to catch — to Hawaii. I’m sure they will enjoy their honeymoon. (Upgrade to first class was my gift to both of them.)

Oh — what did Tom, Chad, and I wear? Tom and Chad both wore their respective dress uniforms, including a really gorgeous pair of dress Dehner boots on Tom. I wore my dress fire department uniform with recently-shined Chippewa Firefighter boots. (I am a Life Member of the same fire department where Chad works, but in a different station.)

I am smiling and happy. Very proud of my friends who have taken a very meaningful, important step to bond their lives as one. Just like I have done with my beloved spouse. May they live happily ever after.

Life is short: choosing to attend a same-sex marriage ceremony is about recognizing the love among two people.

PS: why no photos? it’s really up to Tom and Chad about how public they want to be with their images. I didn’t feel that I had the right to post their photo without their permission.

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