An Atheist Wedding? Good God!

In the planning for our wedding
We had made the usual list
Of the people we’d invited
Making certain none were missed
From your little cousin Hanna
To my scary uncle Todd
There was one, though, uninvited:
We had left no room for God.

We would build our world together
We would make our solemn vows
We would share with one another
All that time and life allows
You and I were getting married
So we really found it odd
There were some who thought a marriage
Needed you, and me, and God.

We’d be legally united
By authority of state
What our love had joined together
Lack of God can’t separate
With no need of church approval
With no priest to give his nod
We’d be married—just as married
As the ones who called in God

And there’s really nothing missing
Cos we’re married just the same
Though we didn’t take our wedding vows
And swear “in Jesus’ name”
See, our vows are to each other,
And that doesn’t make them flawed
Only two of us got married
Cos we saw no need for God.

SO, yeah, CNN had a story up on atheist weddings. Seriously, I would have thought this the non-est of the non-stories, but there ya go. Marriage certainly precedes Christianity (but you wouldn’t know it from the comments at CNN), and will likely survive it as well. The last two weddings I went to (my niece and nephew’s weddings) were both secular, and were both beautiful. It was wonderful to attend weddings that were about the couple, and the families, who were gathered there, rather than about some ancient verses in a book. Really, First Corinthians 13 can be retired for a generation or two, and then maybe it will be beautiful again; as is, it is a stale cliche, and may as well be two minutes of static noise.

I vaguely remember attending some religious weddings–I videotaped my sister-in-law’s Catholic wedding (by her request), happy for the excuse to wander around with a camera while everybody else was praying. That wedding was not about the couple, it was about the church. No fun at all.

Why have a wedding that you don’t enjoy? My niece and my nephew did it right. Beautiful, wonderful ceremonies–laughter, and joy, and tears (that might have just been me). The difference? No God.

Want a beautiful wedding? Step one: Don’t Invite God.

A Perfect Match

He gave her his heart, in exchange for her own
And he owed her that heart and more, didn’t ‘e?
They already knew they were perfectly matched…
Cos, you see, she had given him her kidney!

(Honestly, if you are the sort who doesn’t watch videos until you see if it is worth it, watch the video, and then you can read the rest. And yeah, I cried. But that might just be me.)

The full story is here, at the Indy Star

Chelsea Clair, then 22, had never met Kyle Froelich, then 19. But she had heard his story through a family friend and had already volunteered to help raise awareness for his cause.

On that very first day they met, without really knowing why or what it would mean, she said to him: “I’m going to give you my kidney.”

Froelich didn’t think the outcome would be different from anyone else who had offered. Then, a month later, the test results came back.

“We ended up being almost a perfect match,” she said.

The whole thing is worth reading–stories like this are rare and wonderful, and you want to read it before it is turned into a Lifetime movie or Hollywood script.

Doctors removed Clair’s left kidney and planted it inside Froelich’s abdomen. In its new home, the kidney started working right away.

When she woke up, she asked, “Is Kyle OK?”

When he woke up, he asked, “How’s Chelsea?”

Immunosuppressant drugs worked to keep Froelich’s body from rejecting the kidney, but the medications also meant he had to be isolated to prevent infection.

On his way to recovery, he pleaded and persuaded the nurses to wheel him past Clair. Even though she was still too woozy to notice, he just wanted to wave at her through the window.

And of course, my favorite line:

It’s hard to pinpoint when they fell in love.

Perfect.

I have no idea at all what belief systems these people hold. I honestly don’t care. The news stories are astonishingly and refreshingly devoid of religious particulars, but the comment sections are predictably full of them. I don’t care. I rejoice in their happiness, their health, and their lives together. I hope you do too.

The Concerned Neighbor

There’s a little get-together
In the house across the street
Where they’ll have some beers, some chips and dips,
And maybe grill some meat
Though it’s not the sort of recipe
My family cares to eat,
Still, I must admit, they’ve gathered quite a crowd.

All the cooking is downwind from me
There’s nothing I can smell
But I still—of course—am bothered
Cos the thought makes me unwell,
And notion of their cooking
Makes my life a living hell
So I’m thinking that it shouldn’t be allowed.

***
When my neighbor is relaxing—
Say, there’s no one else around—
He prefers a sort of music
With an odd and foreign sound
I imagine different harmonies
Like none I’ve ever found
Though his headphones keep his choice of music hidden

Now, his music doesn’t sound the way
That music’s meant to be
I believe it might be harmful—
Well, it seems like that to me—
I can’t hear it, but I hate it
So my path is clear, you see:
I must push to have that sort of noise forbidden.

***
Down the block there are some neighbors
Who are looking to be wed
But they’re not a normal couple—
No, they’re lesbians, instead;
When I think of them and marriage,
Why, a part of me goes dead
And our peaceful little neighborhood is wrecked

So I’m going to their wedding
Which they’ll have at City Hall
It’s a civil ceremony
Thus available to all
And I’ll steel myself to answer
When the J.P. makes the call:
“Is there anyone here gathered—“ “—I OBJECT!”

Inspired by today’s A Good Cartoon (which, of course, you should be reading daily).

The Ballad Of Kat and Krista (Or, Why The Church Is Losing)

The city saw progress;
It’s moving, at last,
But the church remains stubbornly
Stuck in the past

When Kat married Krista
They first had to fight
Till the city agreed
To their benefits right

So health care was covered
Which only seems just
And the city agreed
That they certainly must

And Kat’s parents supported
Her fight all along
They were quite in the right—
Now their church says they’re wrong

The church has the parents
In hot (holy) water
Demanding the couple
Abandon their daughter!

Or at least, they must publicly
Fully repent
(“What? Supporting our daughter?
That’s not what we meant!”

“She’s sinful and evil,
Her marriage a fraud!
I denounce here right now
In the name of my God!”)

But the parents are better
Than God up above
Their daughter (now, daughters)
Get nothing but love.

For good, loving parents,
There’s but one way to choose:
If it’s church or your daughter
Then the church has to lose

From CNN’s belief blog, a couple on a bit of a nightmarish roller coaster ride. Kat and Krista are married (yay!); Krista’s parents have essentially disowned her (boo!). Kat’s parents love them both (yay!) and have supported them while they fought, successfully (yay!), for health benefits from the city where Kat is a police detective. Not all parents are so supportive (boo!)

So the family supported their daughters through the court battle (yay!) and their church wants to recognize that display of familial love… by kicking them out of the church (I’m gonna go with “boo!” here, even though I think being kicked out of church is cause for celebration).

Elders at Ridgedale Church of Christ told Linda Cooper and two relatives that their public support for Kat Cooper, Linda Cooper’s gay daughter, went against the church’s teachings, local media reported. In a private meeting, reports say, Linda Cooper was given a choice: publicly atone for their transgressions or leave the church.

Linda left the church.

More proof that morality is innate–clearly, in this case, the moral thing to do was to go against the wishes of the church.

When the Ridgedale congregation next updates its membership rolls, it will be crossing out the Coopers. The family told the local newspaper they were devastated to leave a church where they had been active for 60 years.

For now, both the Coopers and their former church are standing by their own convictions, and after six decades of traveling together, they are heading in different directions.

Those different directions are not equally valid; they are right and wrong. The Coopers have done right. The church is doubling down on wrong.

Why, Oh Why, Oh Why-Oh (…Would You Act This Way, Ohio)

Attorney General Mike DeWine
(Republican, Ohio)
Is looking for an act of hate
To supplement his bio

He can’t be seen as gentle
(He’s Republican, of course)
So while Jim’s love John is dying
Mike is showing no remorse

While he can’t appeal the ruling
(Which is really quite a shame)
He can still deny the rights of those
Whose marriage is the same

That’s the law here, in Ohio
(And we follow every rule)
Though it makes gays less than human
And it makes DeWine seem cruel

He will fight, defending marriage
(So the local paper quotes)
Just as long as that position
Is the one that gains him votes

My most recent post on Jim and John ended on a partially optimistic note:

The bad news is, the court’s injunction is limited to this particular case and these two individuals. The good news is, even Cincinnati doesn’t expect that to remain the case

Ed also had reason to be hopeful:

This is just a temporary restraining order, but it obviously indicates how the judge is likely to rule on the case itself.

Looks like even if Cincinnati recognizes a marriage, and the judge does as well, the attorney general does not. Although DeWine appears to have initially said he would actually appeal the judge’s decision, he seems to have walked back from that cliff just a bit. ThinkProgress includes this update (after an unknown number of calls to DeWine’s office by concerned citizens):

A spokesperson for DeWine clarifies that he does not intend to appeal this temporary order because, the spokesperson says, such an order is not generally appealable. Nevertheless, DeWine also plans to “continue to defend Ohio’s constitutional amendment and law banning same-sex couples from marrying and banning the state from recognizing such marriages,” according to BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner.
In other words, while DeWine does not plan to appeal the judge’s recent temporary order, he still plans to put up a full legal fight against Arthur and Obergefell’s right to be permanently recognized by Ohio as husbands.

Fucking Bastard.

John and Jim: An Update

This is why it matters.

James Obergefell has lived with the love of his life for 20 years before they married two weeks ago.

They also hoped to be buried next to each other, to spend eternity together, but the state of Ohio and his spouse’s relatives won’t let him – because he married another man, John Arthur.

Last week, the two men sued Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Cincinnati doctor responsible for approving death certificates. Obergefell and Arthur asked a judge to overturn existing Ohio law – which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage – to allow Obergefell to be listed as surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate and for it to show that Arthur’s marital status at death as married.

The most beautiful wedding you never attended…was not going to be recognized by the state of Ohio. Which meant that John, who is actively dying, was not going to be allowed to be buried next to Jim, his spouse, his partner of 20 years.

“We’ve been beside each other for 20 years. We deserve to be beside each other in perpetuity,” Obergefell testified Monday.

Arthur has ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that has no known cure and is fatal, and is “days maybe weeks if we are lucky” from death, Obergefell testified.

“What he wants is to die knowing that I am legally taken care for and recognized as his spouse,” Obergefell said of Arthur, both 47.

The bad news is, the court’s injunction is limited to this particular case and these two individuals. The good news is, even Cincinnati doesn’t expect that to remain the case:

Aaron Herzig, an attorney for the city, said the city doesn’t oppose the request by Obergefell and Arthur. The city named July 11, the day the two men were married in Maryland, as James Obergefell and John Arthur Day in Cincinnati.

The Wedding Of John And Jim

This is the story of John and Jim;
Jim loves John, and John loves him;
Twenty years, six months, and eleven days
Already married in many ways,
They finally got to say their vows
With every right the law allows

Just watch the story—don’t ask why…
And I fucking dare you not to cry.

I don’t always cry at weddings. The last wedding I went to, my nephew’s, I bawled like a baby–but that’s because this was my nephew, and every detail was perfect, and I just love him to death.

I don’t know Jim or John. Never heard of them before about an hour ago. But thanks to the internets, I cried at their wedding, too. It was another perfect day:

John Arthur’s been a patient of Crossroads since March, but it wasn’t until June 26 that he settled on his notion of a perfect day. That morning the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As he watched the announcement from a medical bed in his Over-the-Rhine condo, Arthur and his partner of 20 years, Jim Obergefell, decided that they wanted to marry.

A wedding for the couple would not be easy. Because same-sex marriage is illegal in Ohio, and because the Supreme Court ruling left marriage bans at the state level intact, Arthur and Obergefell couldn’t marry here. The prospect of travel was difficult because Arthur is bedridden with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe. Within minutes of the Supreme Court decision, the couple started working the phones, email and social media to figure out how they might legally wed.

The full story is well worth reading, and it is a tear-jerker. I was going to write and tell you about it even before I saw the video.

But, oh. Watch the video (I’ll embed it just below, and if that isn’t working, it can be viewed at the link). It takes a while, but it’s just so beautiful. Yes, I cried. You will, too. I can only hope (vainly, I suspect) that Ohio will soon (sadly, they don’t have much time) allow them to renew their vows in the state they fell in love in, and did not want to leave.

(ok, it’s embedded below the fold–the video is on autoplay, and I don’t know how to fix that, so be aware before you click through. It’s still very much worth your time, though Ok, I’ve deleted the video until such time as I am able to embed it without autoplay. Again, here’s the link to the video, and you do want to watch the video!.)

Anyway… Here’s to John and Jim, or Jim and John, husband and husband. Congratulations!

Hey, It’s Only A Word

Foolishly, mulishly
Internet Solomons
Contemplate cutting the
Baby in half

Thinking the problem is
Etymological
Offer solutions that
Just make me laugh

One thing about the same-sex marriage cases in the news–it sure makes online news comment threads a target-rich environment. In three different locations, by multiple commenters on each, one comment was quite common: “Ok, give gays the same rights, but just call it something else!”. Oddly enough (unless there is an organized campaign somewhere I am unaware of), in all three locations, the commenters thought themselves mighty clever to come up with “garriage” as their alternative.

So, yeah–if it’s only a word, it’s only a word. I suggest telling those commenters that it is an acceptable solution, and they can start calling opposite-sex marriages “garriages” any time they want.

What’s that? It’s unacceptable? I thought it was “only a word”.

If a word is important, it’s important to both parties, and separate but equal will be inherently unequal. If the word itself isn’t important, then there’s no problem there to be solved, and no reason to use two words.

Marriage Week: Sanctity

The date: January 1, 2008. The place: New Hampshire. The scene: Politicians everywhere, vying with one another to succeed George the Lesser. Staking out positions to appeal to their party’s faithful, demonizing their opponents, in their own and in the other party. Parties, I should say–NH gets all the fringe candidates as well. NH voters are extraordinarily privileged; some think it perfectly reasonable not to vote for a candidate purely because they have not yet met them in person, shaken their hand, had a photo taken (collect them all! In NH, you can!) with them. And the politicians oblige. So they are everywhere, and they are doing their best to stand apart from their peers.

And in the middle of this clamor, in the middle of the night, at the stroke of midnight, as the new year began, something changed…

I had insufficient warning
When I stumbled out this morning
Past a half a dozen candidates, each stumping for my vote;
When I looked, the morning paper
Had a headline of some caper
Or the record-breaking snowfall—really, nothing there of note.

So I grabbed my trusty shovel
To plow out my “home sweet hovel”
When I noticed something different—something didn’t quite feel right.
There was snow, and politicians,
But some change in the conditions
Made me wonder if my marriage had the sanctity it might.

So I checked the sanctitometer
And struggled not to vomit—her
“Conventional morality in danger” light was on!
Now a grim new dawn was breaking
And I couldn’t stop my shaking
‘Cos the morally upstanding world I trusted now was gone!

I considered seeking shelter
As I watched the helter-skelter
Of the politicians canvassing the noble Granite State;
I heard one of them disparage
Civil Unions, or Gay Marriage
As the reason for the panic—then I thought, more clearly, “wait!”

All this rattling of sabers
Is about my friends and neighbors;
These are people whom I know, and who have lived here all along
If these folks are who they’re blaming
It’s just pre-election gaming
And between the politicians and my friends, I know who’s wrong.

If our morals are declining
As the candidates keep whining
I propose a different theory to explain why this is so:
An invasive mass of liars
With their speeches, signs, and flyers,
Slinging mud and kissing babies in a dog-and-pony show.

Soon the voting will be over
And the state, from Keene to Dover,
And from Lancaster to Nashua, will heave a weary sigh;
With the moral issue buried
Now my neighbors can get married
And the Granite State will mean it when it says “Live Free or Die!”

As you well know, since that time NH no longer has civil unions. Now, NH has marriage. Well done.

Marriage Week: Bliss

As Marriage Week continues, I look back at June of 2011, watching the New York Senate vote. And butcher a Billy Joel song.

(I have the New York Senate live stream up on another window, and this song insinuated itself on my brain. I’m posting it before the vote–NY, you’d better do the right thing, or this post won’t make any sense!)

Some folks want the right to bake
Just a wedding cake for a wedding night
Groom and groom standing side by side
Or a bride and bride
As they wait for the notice
And their newly wedded kiss
I’m in a New York state of bliss

I’ve seen all of the politics
Of the little tricks and the grand debate
Been watching the senate in the Empire state
Had my own expectations
But I never hoped for this
I’m in a New York state of bliss

It was so different, living day by day
Out of luck, and the bigots bring the blues
But now I see a little give and take
In The New York Times, The Daily News

It comes down to reality
And it’s fine with me, ‘cause it’s simply right
Now the votes are in; it begins tonight
There’s a remnant of history
I am never going to miss
I’m in a New York state of bliss

It was so different, living day by day
Out of luck, and the bigots bring the blues
But now I see a little give and take
In The New York Times, The Daily News

It comes down to reality
And it’s fine with me, ‘cause it’s simply right
Now the votes are in; it begins tonight
There’s a remnant of history
I am never going to miss
I’m in a New York state of bliss

I’m just watching the live stream
And I’m waiting for the kiss
I’m in a New York state of bliss

(With apologies to Billy Joel.)