“Civil Behavior” Column: Should Gays Be Boycotting Straight Weddings?

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?

Petrow responded:

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.

Photo: bigvern

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #boycott #civilbehavior #stevenpetrow stories and more


  • Gigi Gee

    Unless the straight couple getting married don’t support marriage equality then you should go to their wedding. Unless you can’t for some reason or just don’t like weddings. I’m very choosy about which weddings I attend. But I wouldn’t refuse an invitation and use “boycott” as an excuse. That’s just childish.

  • 1EqualityUSA


  • Mjl-428

    @Gigi Gee: yeah this is really a no brainer. no point in punishing those who would stand by you and want to come to your wedding one day.

    the other people though? You can RUIN their wedding instead

  • hyhybt

    The answer in the article seems exactly right to me. What benefit is there, really, to “boycott” a celebration for someone you love just because it’s legally binding and, if you had one yourself, it wouldn’t be?

  • InscrutableTed

    You should totally boycott the weddings of straight people who don’t support marriage equality.

    The polite way to RSVP in that case is “Fuck off”.

  • Pedro1989

    What a dumb question to ask! If I were his niece, and read this, I would not invite such a bitter person to my wedding. Unless the niece or her boyfriend are homophobes…I can’t even believe he would have such a petty attitude.

  • blaiche

    Wouldn’t you boycotting your niece’s wedding be EXACTLY what we are fighting against as gays (people boycotting our weddings)?

  • GregJamesNewman

    I think he should go to the wedding. Mr Petrow is right. Family trumps politics. I think he will regret not going to the wedding. I’m assuming if his niece fought to pass Amendment One, then they wouldnt exactly be as close as they are.

  • jheryn

    The person asking the question is an idiot. I would never boycott the marriage of someone who supports my right to marry. Unless that family member is against gay marriage (which is another way of saying homophobic IMHO) then you need to support them just as they would you. Is this person asking the question REALLY that dense?

  • Little-Kiwi

    check it out. share it with family. there are ways for marrying-heterosexuals to take a stand for LGBT Equality :D

  • seventhtreenyc

    I’m surprised at all the comments bashing the question asker. While I do think he should reconsider and attend (especially if he’s close to his niece and her mother), I don’t think it’s “dumb” and “idiotic” to become more and more offended (maybe ‘envious’ is a better word) by all of our allies partaking in rights that we are denied. But I do agree that we need our allies, and we should praise/support those allies who refuse to get married until it’s legal for all… but not necessarily punish those who DO choose to get married (especially if they are close friends/family).

    On the other hand, if this niece and her finance actively supported Amendment One and voted for it, then yes, I think you have every right to boycott–but be classy about it. Politely decline, stating that you don’t feel comfortable attending weddings until marriage is legal for all (and I’d avoid making it sound like you’re shaming them). And include a small wedding gift. She’s still your niece.

  • Modernliving3

    Wow, since when did Queerty readers become so pathetic?
    What if African Americans were restricted from legally getting married and were constantly being invited to White weddings? Would this columnist and all of the readers be so quick to label them as insensitive or tell them they just need to take the “high road”? You want to trivialize my lack of civil rights as an issue of “politics”? Telling someone to take the high road when they are trying to take a stand against bigotry (9x/10 the wedding is at a church that doesn’t believe gays should marry) is more than just insensitive, it’s outright offensive. It’s like trying to make a vegetarian dinner guest feel guilty for not eating the pot roast you spent all day making.
    Sadly, the reason we continue to struggle with gaining equality is because we are so apathetic. Instead of firmly demanding and expecting our rights, we thank and appreciate straights for “tolerating” and “accepting” us. I’m all for allies and I have plenty of them, straight and gay….but all of my allies feel the same way I do, they wouldn’t be allies if they didn’t.

  • Will L

    @Pedro1989: I hear you! I thought the same thing as I read his letter. Someone’s getting bitter and cranky in his old age. It’s not like they took the right away from us. We’ve never been able to marry but it’s getting closer! Now is not the time to turn against straight marriage.

  • petensfo

    I actually read another response elsewhere… the writer pointed out that the niece may have missed an opportunity to acknowledge the awkwardness of the situation and show support for her uncle at the same time.

    Truly, I’m over people being such clods about gay discrimination. We’re not humorless, or sensitive, we’re f’n sick of the casual acceptance of our crappy treatment. They now know too much… Yeah, yeah, it’s the bride’s special day, but she also needs to get a clue & schedule a 1 on 1 w/ her uncle.

Comments are closed.