Private love has public consequences. As your DC Wedding Officiant, what do i do at your wedding? I am a legal witness and a master of ceremonies, essentially. You and your husband, wife, partner, do the work. Your vows, spoken, in public are the ethical and graceful moment of marriage: I do, I will. The ceremony stands on commitment and desire.
What is it we do at a wedding? Something new, perhaps, unique to two persons, Gay men, Lesbian women, straight couples. Love is a human moment, and by rights should be beyond politics. Any act of love, made public, teaches everyone who witnesses it a hard lesson – one each of us must learn over and over. Love desires to be spoken. Like God, in creation, love endures all things save silence. The world we shall leave for the next generation will be only as noble, as good, as we have kept it. Thus it is we memorialize, we commit, we make public our love. It is our human duty, and our mortal imperative, to respect love where ever we find it; w must nurture and parent it under whatever conditions it struggles to exist. Gay and lesbians are surely not alone in living under fear, threat of social censure, economic disability. Yet we can make a difference for all those who do. With our voices and examples of public love we can speak for the many who do not yet have even the little voice we have: In a world governed so often by hate and expedience, all love is a moral act.This is the burden carried by two persons in love. Lovers help us remember what is so easily forgotten: that we, too must every day learn love again. Where two persons, stand, in church or in garden, on the verge of hope, each of us have stood, perhaps in different ways.
Washington, DC, has made equal justice under law possible for everyone. By witnessing these public acts of love, we who gather around are reminded, again, of what we value, the things so easy to forget. One thing, however, is clear. A public union of hearts and minds, a ceremony with lovely colors and words and music, does not add anything to a relationship that is not already there. Ritual is not magic. Lovers commit themselves to faith and hope in a world where these virtues are not very valuable. As the days turn into weeks, lovers grow and change, and a day will come when can seem to be strangers to each other. It is at that point, as Camus reminds us, the real work of love begins.Love is not a Hallmark card. A public marriage only makes public what is interior, and private. A real union of heart and mind takes the sentiment out of love and puts the struggle in. Real love is not love whenever we feel like it; nor is love blind. Forget that myth! Love looks and looks again; it has a great eye for the particular virtue, the telling detail. And yes, private love does have public consequences. It raises up not just individuals, but communities as well.
This is why gay and lesbian persons must struggle, like any other person, to be honest, to be true, to be committed to each other for better, for worse, in sickness, in health, in joy and sorrow, in time and out of time.That is the work we begin to do each time we time we say I do, or witness someone else who says these words. I Do, actually, means I Will. This is the promise that takes the whole community to support. Revd Edward J. Ingebretsen, FCC