our commitment

In September 2004, we signed durable powers of attorney, wills and living wills giving each other many of the rights of married partners. With our ceremony on March 20, 2005, we will complete this formal commitment by saying vows and exchanging rings in front of our families and friends.

We have chosen not get married for a variety of reasons, none of which has anything to do with our feelings for each other or our commitment to a shared future. The shortest possible answer is that we do not require a legal contract or the blessing of a minister to make our commitment real and sacred.

We believe that God is Love, and that a union of love will necessarily be blessed. While we consider our relationship to be a bond between souls, neither of us follows a specific faith. Although we regret any distress this may cause for members of our families, it would be disingenuous for us to have a ceremony that followed the tenets of Christianity.

We are also acutely aware that marriage is not an option for everyone, and we are resistant to becoming part of an exclusionary institution. We both identify with and feel compassion for the thousands of gay couples in loving, committed relationships who would like to get married and cannot. Some of these couples are close personal friends. If the day comes when adults of any gender can marry, whether it be in our state or nationwide, we will probably reconsider our choice regarding legal marriage.

It’s worthwhile to note that our state, Virginia, has been a leader in the ugly homophobic backlash that has followed efforts by the gay community to secure their right to marriage (a right that could not be legally disputed before the recent profusion of heterosexist laws). See here, here, and here. We are gratified to find that we’re not alone in believing that if a government or a religion cannot offer marriage equally, it shouldn’t offer it at all. See here and here.

By not getting married, we also hope to sidestep some of the restrictions, assumptions, and definitions that many people would attempt to impose on us if we were to marry. The institution of marriage, as we see it, has had many burdens related to economics, religion and gender discrimination piled onto the statement it makes about love and commitment. We know that marriage has been the right choice for a lot of people, including our parents and many of our friends. We respect and support these marriages. We simply feel the need to establish our commitment in our own way. Call us unreasonable if you want, but we just don’t think the institution of marriage has evolved to a point where we want to join in.

This decision has not been made lightly and has not always been easy. It’s tough not to have easy language for our commitment and to have to explain it, sometimes to complete strangers. It’s a challenge to plan a ceremony that will be both meaningful for us and comprehensible to others. Most of all, it has been difficult for some of our loved ones to understand why we don’t just “go ahead and get married.”

Fortunately, our friends and families are pretty used to both of us being stubbornly idealistic.

As a final note, we recognize that we are privileged to be able to make this choice. If we lived in most other times or places, or if either of us were gendered differently, we wouldn’t be able to choose not to marry. And if we had to get married to be together, or to take care of one another, we would not hesitate.

No matter what the future holds, March 20, 2005 will always mark the beginning of our life together. Thank you for your love and support. We can’t wait to share our special day with all of you!

Love, Ben & Joriel