As a wedding officiate and interfaith minister, I have the pleasure of meeting with couples to help them create their dream wedding. Gay, lesbian and transgender people in Utah cannot legally marry. That does not stop me from performing commitment ceremonies. When I do, I create a certificate that is signed by me, the couple and their witnesses. I also advise them to go to an attorney and have legal documents created that gives each other power of attorney to make decisions in the event the other cannot.
During these interviews with gay and lesbian couples I have learned a few dos and don’ts that I would like to share:
Do ask the couple
In a marriage ceremony, most of my couples like to be referred to as wife or husband and introduced that way to the world. But do not to presume that is always the case. At the Pride Festival this year, I was helping in the Utah Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce booth, a volunteer came up to me and nervously said, “I do not know how to ask you this question …” I told her to just ask. She wanted to know how to introduce her sister and partner, should she say this is my sister’s girlfriend or partner or just say her name. I told her to ask her sister, that she will appreciate that you want to respect her.
Everyone is different, it does not matter your sexual orientation, we are all unique and I do not believe any of us enjoy being put into a category. My son, Jay, helps me with this one. He takes offense when that happens and he has reminded me of it several times. I asked him once when I had heard someone refer to as a “gay hag,” which is a woman that hangs around mostly gay men. Jay said that it is usually an unattractive woman, and it is the gay men that are making fun of them. He expressed how angry it makes him when he overhears men making fun of women that way.
Do acceptance, not tolerance
This one is for me, I do not like the word tolerance. To me it means you have no choice but to put up with something you do not agree with. I feel like you are being a martyr, “Aren’t I great, because I am tolerating something I do not agree with.” Acceptance is loving: I may not understand, but I honor you and accept that we have differences.
Do community activities
To understand the LGBT community, get involved with the community. You will find in most cases a loving and accepting community of incredible men and women. If you have a business straight or gay, or as an individual and would like to network with businesses, join the Utah Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, utahgaychamber.org. Another great organization is the Utah Pride Center, they have tons of resources available and different activities to help you understand more about the LGBT community. There is also Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, that has education and programs available. You can also help create a new program with Mom’s View Podcast at indiegogo.com/momsview.
Bottom line here, moms and dads, get involved and you will understand that the only race there is, is the human race, no separation. We all want to be loved and accepted for being who we are.