Columnist Steven Petrow, pens the biweekly Civil Behavior column on the New York Times website. This week a gay man in North Carolina asked if it was okay for him to boycott a family wedding because he and his partner can’t be legally wed.
Q. Dear Civil Behavior: My niece has been dating a young man for about a year and I expect I’ll soon be receiving a wedding invitation. Lately I have been thinking that I will politely decline to attend, even though I’m fond of my niece and very close to my sister (her mother).
Why? My partner and I live in North Carolina, a state whose constitution now prohibits same-sex marriage. We have been together for 25 years and have been to lots of weddings in that time. I used not to mind so much going to other people’s weddings even though we couldn’t make our own union legal. But now I do. I’ve had enough. I’m tired of being polite. In fact, I would like to announce to all friends and family that I will not be attending anyone’s wedding until I attend my own. Do I have your permission to skip my niece’s wedding?
A. No, you don’t, but please hear me out. I understand how the landslide passage of Amendment One in North Carolina earlier this year (adding a constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex marriage) could have been your proverbial last straw. After all, for those of us who’ve spent decades joyfully supporting our friends and family as they tied the knot– (sometimes more than once) a popular vote to deny us the same basic right is a real slap in the face. I know how tough it is to keep smiling through all those 25th anniversary parties and other celebrations of straight unions that you and your partner have been denied.
After admitting there are a lot of people who feel the way the advice-seeker does, Petrow came down solidly on the side of attending the ceremony:
You need to choose the high road and go to your niece’s wedding. I’ve always believed that family trumps politics, especially in matters like this. Assuming your niece didn’t actively campaign in favor of Amendment One, don’t make her pay the price for it. I’m guessing you’ve celebrated a lifetime of milestones with this young lady, all as an expression of your love and support for her. How will she feel about your absence on this important day? And how will you feel in 5, 10, or 15 years about having boycotted it?
Personally we agree with him. We don’t go to the weddings of people who won’t acknowledge our relationships, but we don’t see the sense in hurting our friends and allies. What do you think? Make a donation to Freedom to Marry instead of a gift? Ask the bride and groom to wear white ribbons?
Sound off in the comments section below.