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New Allies in the
Gay Marriage Fight: Straight Couples

New Allies in the
Gay Marriage Fight: Straight Couples

When Marisa Miller married David Wolfson last year, the couple added a statement to their vows that they both passionately believe in the right of all people to marry regardless of sexual orientation.

When Marisa Miller married David Wolfson last year, the couple added a statement to their vows that they both passionately believe in the right of all people to marry regardless of sexual orientation.

With gay friends making up about 20% of the guests and two openly gay religious clergymen officiating, it seemed appropriate to note they felt "somewhat out of step with society's views on marriage."

"I thought it was really, really beautiful and very healing," said Reverend Nate Walker, who presided with Rabbi Frank Tamburello. "It brought tears to my eyes, thinking that I am legally entitled to marry this wonderful couple but I am not entitled to have the same joy in my own life."

Such statements have become more common at heterosexual weddings. But not all gay guests appreciate the gesture. Some, like Pattrice Jones, compare straight couples' efforts at solidarity to a white person joining a whites-only country club and making a quick statement of support for blacks who are excluded.

"Just don't join the club -- it's that simple," said Jones, a lesbian author.

After a wedding last year in which a straight couple read a statement of solidarity with gay couples, Jones said her "gay friends rang to tell me about it. They were horrified and really annoyed. We all felt it was so wrong to grab all the benefits that marriage gives you and just make a little statement to calm your guilt."

According to gay marriage activist Jim DeLaHunt, who is straight, it has become more and more acceptable for straight couples to make a gesture of solidarity at their weddings. He was among the initial wave of straight couples to make a statement when he and his wife, Kate, known as "Ducky," celebrated their wedding in 1998. He thanked two of his wife's gay friends, whose commitment to each other persuaded her to marry.

"It was that partnership that showed Ducky how it is possible to survive stresses and strains of having two people fit together. If she didn't have that example, I don't think we would be marrying today," he said at his wedding.

Other couples, such as attorneys Kaethe Morris Hoffer and Matt Hoffer Morris, choose to simply ignore gender-specific statements in their vows and keep the ceremony as inclusive as possible.

"We went to great pains to ensure that our vows were gender-neutral, because we wanted to get married in a way that anyone could follow," Hoffer Morris said. At their wedding, the couple promised to be take each other as "my beloved" and promised "with God's assistance to be onto you always a loving and faithful partner."

Their Quaker service took place in Michigan, but they refused to get officially married by the state because it did not recognize gay marriage. They later flew to Boston to be legally married.

Even Jones concedes that some straight couples should get a pass, as long as it's not a glib statement of liberal values. "Ultimately, I'm happy for anyone who finds the right person," she said.

For Miller and Wolfson, the statement was far from glib. The couple used their ceremony to reflect their wider social beliefs: The catering was vegan, the dress came straight from the designer instead of a department store that sold fur, and the wedding chocolates were purchased through a fair trade cooperative to help farmers in developing countries.

Marisa Miller Wolfson is sympathetic to gay rights advocates who say that nobody should get married until everyone is granted the same rights.

"I totally understand that, but my own wedding just made me more determined to get those rights extended to everyone," she said. (Sean O'Driscol AP)

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