THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL
1 Corinthians 13
It is an honor and a joy for me to officiate at your (not only spiritual, but now also legal) wedding, 44 years to the day after you first gave yourselves to each other in marriage.
Rev. Dr. Dan Geslin
If you haven't been to church for the past 44 years, a lot has changed. We've updated our language from the 1600's thee's and thou's to contemporary language for a new century. We use gender-inclusive language now for both the human and the divine, and we've embraced the feminine side of God. Three years after the wedding photo on our bulletin cover was taken, in 1972, the United Church of Christ began ordaining open lesbians and gay men. Today I stand before you as the openly gay pastor of this church in Hancock, Maine.
At the same time, several people have said to me during the past few days, I'm excited about going to my first gay wedding. Exactly what happens at a gay wedding? So, without further ado, if the ushers will open the doors and bring in the fatted calf, we will now have the traditional gay-wedding animal sacrifice.
Forgive my teasing, but, of course, the same thing happens at a gay wedding as happens at a non-gay wedding. That's the point of marriage equality. Two people give themselves to each other
for life. They make that commitment by making vows to one another, promising to care for each other in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, as long as they both shall live.
What makes this particular wedding unique is not that it's gay, but that the two of you have already been living together in marriage for 44 years. So I can't get away with the usual wedding sermon telling the uninitiated couple that it's all going to be a bowlful of cherries. I would wager that you've had some fights over the years, and that you know what it means to promise each other to stick together in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow. I'm sure that through these 44 years, you've each changed somewhat, and that your thoughts about and your experiences of love have changed somewhat, too. You now know that love is much more than a romantic attraction. Love is a way of life.
Forty-four years ago today, you made these exact same vows to each other before a minister in a church in Boulder, Colorado. There is a reason that you chose to exchange your vows in a church then, and that you are renewing those vows in a church now. There's a reason that we're not doing this in Las Vegas, or at happy hour in a gay bar in Portland, or even in the woods. Faith is an important part of your lives, both individually and together. I believe it takes Easter faith for a marriage to flourish, by which I mean that during those seasons in a marriage when the relationship is strained or painful or even torn, it is faithfulness to a shared belief that the power of love can mend, heal and resurrect a relationshipcan bring it back to lifethat keeps a couple together. We have faith that God is Love. That's an important part of why we are not in Las Vegas; we are here.
Another reason that we are here is that a foundation of Christian marriage is the belief that the blessing of marriage is not only for the couple; it is also a blessing for the couple's community. No one here today can doubt that because of the life you have shared together these past 44 years, your trust in and care for one another has empowered each of you to reach beyond your home on Blueberry Lane and be of service to the community of Hancock and beyond. Most, if not all of us have been touched by your service in many areas, including the Monteux School, the Frenchman Bay/Tidal Falls Conservancy, your work setting up Gay-Straight Alliances in Maine's public schools and geriatric care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors here, in addition to your leadership in this church and your involvement in the GGGthe Gay Guy's Groupthat has been meeting in Hancock County for potlucks once a month almost as long as you've been married. You have both been empowered to do all this good work in the community in large part because you have a loving relationship and a stable home-life from which to work.
The same year that you were first married1969the current wave of Feminism was born with a motto that became so ubiquitous so quickly that nobody knows who said it first. That motto is, The personal is political. For women at the time that meant that their domestic lives, their life at home was not separate from their politics, but was the very stuff of their politics. That same year, on June 28, the current wave of LGBT liberation was born in the Stonewall Revolt in New York City. Also that year, our United Church of Christ passed the first resolution of any denomination calling for gay rights in all areas of American society.
Forty-four years is also how long Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer lived together in marriage before Thea passed away. When Edie brought their case before the Supreme Court earlier this year to overturn the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act because it violated equal protection under the law, one of the conservative justices, Samuel Alito, said that it was too soon to rule on their case because gay marriage is newer than cell phones. The truth is, Doug and Ron, your marriage has been here a lot longer than cell phones, as have the marriages of millions of lesbians and gay men down through the centuries all over the world!
Much has changed, progressed and improved since those heady days of 1969 when you first got married. But since then, we, the people, have embraced and carried forward the idea that the personal is political. Your quiet but persistent life together over these past 44 yearsas well as the lives of others like you and our families and friendshave changed the politics of our country forever. And although there is still work for all of us to do in the struggle for universal human rights and human dignity, we have come a long way since the days of Oscar Wilde and the love which dare not speak its name.
Tonight we are gathered here not only to publicly speak the name of your love, but to openly celebrate it. We are also here to celebrate our shared belief that anyone and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God [1John 4:7]. So, now, may the God-who-is-Love continue to bless your marriage, Ron and Doug, and continue to bless our community through it. For faith, hope and lovethese three blessings live foreverbut the greatest of these is love.
The Wedding of
Doug Kimmel & Ron Schwizer
Union Cong'l UCC of Hancock
19 August 2013