By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/25/2019
Posted: 6/30/2006
Topics/Keywords: #CivilRights #GayMarriage #GayRights Page Views: 2832
You can't wait for the world to catch up if you want to help change it.

A few days ago, Dear Abby printed a letter from a man who was about to be married, and who had asked his gay brother to be his best man. The brother refused, on the grounds that, since he couldn't legally get married, he couldn't in good conscience attend a wedding until the discriminatory laws are changed.

This resulted in an uproar in the gay blogosphere, with posters split on whether the brother should or should not attend the wedding. Some agreed that a boycott of weddings would somehow draw attention to the unfairness of current laws; others pointed out that the wedding was about the couple being married, not the best man; and that he could better make his point at the end of his toast, by hoping that someday the groom would be able to toast him and his partner at their wedding. A few folks even reminded us that several states don't even allow unmarried heterosexual folks to live together (though such laws are seldom enforced—and, when they are, they are usually selectively enforced against gay couples).

But I think a lot of these folks are missing the point. They are right in that the laws need to be changed. But they are wrong in thinking they cannot marry until they are changed.

Did Rosa Parks refuse to ride a bus until the segregation laws were abolished? No. She acted as if they had been, and in so doing helped abolish segregation.

Michael and I were married in our Unitarian Universalist church in 2000. (You are welcome to view our wedding pictures.) We had over a hundred guests, of whom maybe a third were gay. It may not have been "legal" but we wouldn't have invited President Bush even if it was. And let's face it, every time I sleep with Michael we are breaking the law. So why not add a wedding to our list of offenses?

I actively support legalizing marriage for anyone who wants it, and regularly annoy my senators and congressman because they don't agree. I will vote for pro-equality candidates. But I'm not going to put my life on hold just because our society as a whole isn't yet mature enough to accommodate all its members.

I wrote the music for our wedding, including a song called "Make Your World" which I think captured this concept. It includes the lyrics,

"If you would hold the hand of your lover,
Then hold your lover's hand and say
'Let's make our world the best we can
We'll make a beautiful world bouquet.'"

As Rosa Parks knew, the way to change the world is to change the world—not to sit and complain and wait for it to change on its own.