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Monday, July 11, 2011

A Call For Gays To Boycott Heterosexual Weddings

(Flickr/Marketing Deluxe)

(Flickr/Marketing Deluxe)

Writer Rich Benjamin caused a kerfuffle in the blogosphere recently when he published the New York Times Op-Ed piece “Not Going To The Chapel.

He writes that he will not attend the wedding of a close friend, because as a gay man, it is “utterly absurd to celebrate an institution that I am banned from in most of the country.”

Benjamin says that he’s not a gay activist but this was a personal stand he had to make. He has been both hailed as courageous and attacked for alienating those who would support gay marriage.


  • Writer Rich Benjamin

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  • Anonymous

    Just go buy your friends wedding presents and show up at their wedding.  Boycotting the wedding of personal friends will do nothing to effect the number of states that allow gay marriage. All it will do is punish your friends weddings by making your self part of their wedding story.

  • http://twitter.com/TheReoWorld A. Reovan

    A friend of mine and her fiance toyed with this question last summer at their wedding in Queens, NY, given that their maid of honor and numerous friends (including myself) were gay (of course before the state passed marriage equality–go NY!). I was touched more that they included a statement in their program along the lines of “While we are legally able to wed for love, we struggle in spirit with our brethren who are not and will stand with them for the day when all LGBT persons are recognized as equal under the law.”

    I think lobbying your friends to make a simple statement like this is a lot more effective than boycotting their wedding–after all, it means that all the family and friends at the wedding have to consider the statement themselves, rather than just knowing that one friend chose to boycott.

  • MotherKitt+

    There is a growing number of clergy in mainline denominations who will not perform heterosexual marriages – i.e. function as an agent of the state and sign the marriage license – until same gender marriages are legal. Not unlike Mr. Benjamin’s position.  Generally these same clergy will perform the blessing (which is the Christian part of the “traditional” ceremony) for all couples.  Get the civil piece done at city hall, by a judge, or other authorized person, then come to the church for the blessing.

    The vast majority of the population doesn’t understand that, ironically, weddings are the one area where there is NOT separation of church and state.  The bulk of the language and prayers in a church wedding is the church, or blessing, part of the service – the brief statement of some version  of “by the authority vested in me by the state of ——-you are now husband and wife” is the state.  And that statement is not valid unless/until the clergy signs the state’s marriage license following the service.

  • Bob

     This is one of the most preposterous ideas I have ever heard.  The whole point of a “boycott” is to hurt the people who are doing something you find wrong or offensive.  The guest clearly stated he isn’t against his friend getting married.  He isn’t against marriage in general.  Furthermore, a *wedding* is not the same as a *marriage*.  Anyone (including gays and whoever a church might sanction) could have a wedding, in any state.  It might not have legal force, but that’s not what a *wedding* is about.  It’s about gathering your friends and family together to ask for their support as you commit to a relationship with another person.  The legal *marriage* is something that only happens when you sign some piece of paper and file it somewhere, which has to do with legal benefits.

    People don’t get invited to weddings to endorse the various legal benefits of marriage.  (“Congratulations, you can now get insurance!  Congratulations, you can inherit things easier!”  That would be preposterous.)  People come to weddings to support a relationship.  Unless you are opposed to that relationship, your boycott isn’t hitting its target.

    That said, I perhaps could still understand someone who wanted to send a message to a friend who was anti-gay marriage.  But that’s not the case here — the friend actually supports gay marriage!  So, he’s punishing his friend and effectively withdrawing his support for his commitment to send a message??  To whom??  The boycott is not going to reach its target that way… in fact, if I were his friend, I might actually start withdrawing my support for marriage for *him*.  Not gay marriage in general, because that would seek to punish other people for no apparent reason (which he apparently likes).   He has declared effectively declared non-support for the legality of his friend’s marriage; I hope his friend actively lobbies to have him permanently banned from marrying anyone.

  • Fulner

    this issue is not nearly as complicated as people say. its actually quite simple. we simply need to establish a separation of marriage and state. the government should treat everyone equally weather they be married straight gay or single. even conservatives should be able to jump on this band wagon as it results in less government.

  • copperlion

    Isn’t it funny that an industry that attracts and employs  so many gay men and lesbians, supports an institution that they are not legally able to participate in in most states?

    I agree with the posts here that such a “boycott” will miss it’s intended target, especially when the friends you are boycotting support gay marriage and would support you if your marriage were legal. If all of the LGBT folks who work in the industry, as well as those who support them, were to strike until it becomes legal for them to marry whomever they choose, it would likely have an impact on tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or millions, of weddings every year. That is more likely to make it real for a larger number of people.

  • Lesabre

    I agree with fulmer….the Government needs to step up to the plate and admit that Government should have never been issuing marriage licenses.  Marriage is a civil statement, an in most cases is a religious union santified by the church in front of all the attendees .  If your church won’t marry you, then find one that will, but don’t expect the government to do anything but protect you  from agresson the same as they do for all citizens.   The Government is only interested is legal partnerships for the purposes of legal responsibilities and taxes.  I don’t care if two same sex people want to live together and be legally responsible for each other ect.  As for the industry that employees people…hu…it is employing people, not gays or  lesbians.  You can’t have it both ways.  This program was a waste of air time.  It is prepostrious to think someone should not go to their friends wedding because because half the population does not approve of your life style.

  • Jeffjeffbobeff

    I propose (pun not intended) one change to this boycott to make it more palatable to all potential participants.  Suppose that one’s attendance at a wedding be dependent upon the soon-to-be-wed couple’s signing of a petition in support of gay marriage.  That way, couples who support gay marriage can still have their friends and family attend and take part in their special day.

  • Jaguar943-one

    When my partner’s niece invited us to her wedding, I made a point of asking if they could change the venue to one in which marriage equality prevailed.  If I were to boycott heterosexual weddings, that would be the basis on which I’d do it.  New York, Boston and Vancouver are fine locales for destination weddings.

  • Bob

    @a5db636190a506021d5f2489600a3eaa:disqus  – So, let me understand this.  You would ask not only the bride and the groom, but all wedding guests, to fly to a location they may or may not like to go, just to make a political statement for you?

    If it’s not your wedding, it’s not about you.  It’s not about political statements, unless the bride and groom want it to be.  It’s about them and their relationship.  It’s about allowing them to have friends and family present who love them and want to support their relationship.

    If you put friends or family in this position to be forced to have a destination wedding that could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars from each wedding guest, just to make your political point, would you ask the bride and groom to make an announcement about why they are having the destination wedding?  What if some of their dear friends aren’t quite so pro-gay marriage, maybe they’re on the fence or maybe they are even anti-gay marriage?  What business of yours is it to force this couple to alienate those friends or family on their day?  If you don’t want to be their friend, don’t.  But it’s wrong to insist on requirements for a bunch of people you probably don’t even know at an occasion that isn’t about you.

    I’m very much an advocate for allowing anyone to marry.  But I would consider boycotting a wedding where I knew the bride and groom were forced to choose a destination because of selfish friends (for any reason, political or otherwise), particularly if it required a large monetary investment on my part.  I suspect other friends and relatives might even be swayed to be more anti-gay marriage if they were forced to do something like this and they knew it was because of the insistence of a few friends.  Making a suggestion is one thing, but putting constraints on someone else’s wedding is not the way to move the rights agenda forward.  At best, it might annoy some people or make it more difficult for loved ones to be at a wedding due to monetary concerns for travel; at worst, it might actually convert more people to the anti-gay cause.

    I would contribute the travel money to some gay rights organization that would actually do something instead of insisting on a meaningless and selfish constraint that could cost hundreds of people tens of thousands of dollars just for a small symbolic gesture.

    • Hank

      You hit the nail on the head Bob, so it’s worth posting again:

      “If it’s not your wedding, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!  It’s not about political statements, unless the bride and groom want it to be. It’s about them and their relationship. It’s about allowing them to have friends and family present who love them and want to support their relationship.”

  • Bob

    If you feel uncomfortable attending a heterosexual wedding, here’s a reasonable option that still show your support for the couple’s relationship:

    Go to the wedding, but take the money you would have used for a gift and donate it to an organization that fights for gay marriage rights.

    You will have succeeded in both supporting your friends’ relationship and using it to support the gay cause — at the same time.

  • Gabor Sz

    This is not as ridiculous as some make it out to be.  I believe the point is boycotting weddings until there is marriage equality brings the issue to more people who would otherwise have little interest in it.  A vast majority of us are heterosexual with no strong views about gay marriage.  Such people are likely to give the entire issue a pass until they see how it affects people around them, especially those they know well enough to invite to a wedding.  I see this as a way to get more people thinking about the consequences of social inequality, as it puts a face on the issue.  And if it slowly moves more people from the “who cares” camp to the “let’s fix it” camp, then the boycott will have served its purpose.

  • In NY

    How frustrating! You lead off with some really interesting issues, like the fact that some companies offering domestic partner benefits are now requiring employees to be married, even though they sometimes still can’t, or the reality that same-sex marriages are still not recognized by the federal government, raising serious implications come tax-filing time. Many people don’t know about these complications, and you could have had a really good segment about them. Instead you then go into a circular, rather pointless interview with a guy who wrote an op-ed piece and won’t go to his friends’ weddings. I am as pro-gay marriage as they come, and recognize that everyone is entitled to their take on the situation, but really – this could have been so much more substantial than it was.

  • Jeffe68

    While I support equal rights for gay folks to marry, I’m not so into this idea.
    If it was my wedding and you did this to me that possibly be the end of our friendship.
    To use a day that is about celebrating life and love for ones personal political ideology is uncalled for.
    I would add it’s also in bad form.

  • ie

    It’s interesting to think that some same-sex marriage opponents cite homosexuals’ alleged desire for the financial benefits of legal marriage as a reason for their opposition to legalization. This simply demonstrates how often heterosexuals marry for the financial benefits or other non-religious reasons.

    As others have already stated, the government should get out of the “marriage business.”

  • Mike

    How childish on Rich Benjamin, I m trying to undstand his issues, BUT   I wonder what he will feel when his FRIEND refuses to attends his same sex wedding, because the friend  isn’t gay ?  Where is his support for his friend?  His friend wanted  him there to share his happiness.  Its like  not attending a wedding because I’m a vegetarian, because you know they will serve meat!!  What about a Catholic attending a Jewish wedding,  Pleaseee,  find a better way to protest, instead of hurting his friend.   

  • Proudhe

    What will queers think of next?

  • Cuspis

    I remember the good old days when being gay meant you didn’t have to serve in the military, you didn’t have to get married, and you didn’t have to raise kids.

  • NotHardForGuys

    Boycott what?  Those people don’t get invited to weddings.  Who the hell invites gays or lesbians to their wedding anyway?  Tell me.  Who?

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