Montreal honeymoon trail

Just one week after several Whatsiters attended an intimate wedding on the oxygen-deprived shores of Lake Tahoe (for TGW commenters Bacon and Andrea), a number of us converged again on the banks of the St. Lawrence, in Montreal, for wedding number two: this time for the nuptials of TGW’s beloved Dr. Cedric Cedarbrook and his man G-Lock.

night sights

Although this was a gay wedding — and a more than fabulous one at that — I overheard several people describe it as “traditional.” By this I think they meant it shared many characteristics with typical het weddings: it took place in a church, it involved the signing of legal documents, the vows were familiar, the mothers cried (okay, I did too), the crowd cheered when the couple kissed as newlyweds. There wasn’t much fuss to set this ceremony apart from a straight wedding, not a lot to call attention to the social and political issues that framed the occasion, except for the fact that the couple were pronounced “husbands, one to another” rather than “husband and wife.”

Still, I was struck by the ways in which certain texts involved in the ceremony read differently in the context of a ceremony for a gay couple. First, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

From the opening lines the point was clear: “impediments,” including heteronormative gender ideology and unfair marriage laws in the United States, were not about to keep this couple from being truly married. A common enough wedding text took on extra meaning in this setting, from first line to last. A similar thing happened when the officiator turned to a reading from the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians, another ubiquitous text at weddings:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
      Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

About half way through the reading I had the thought that just about everything these verses say love is not actually applies quite aptly to politicians, religious leaders, and everyday voters who think they have the right to dictate which kinds of couples are “traditional” enough to have a traditional wedding; I was struck too by the notion here that it’s not just faith and hope that are held at lower esteem than love; even expressions of religious certainty and divine revelation — prophecy, tongues, and the like — are deemed fallible and subordinate to love’s sovereign power.

Though we didn’t have much time to muse on such things at the ceremony — the grooms and their guests were quickly whisked away to a waterfront museum space to drink, dine, and dance the night away — I was left a little indignant that we had to make our way up to Montreal to see such a simple ordinance performed. Not that there’s anything wrong with Montreal: on the contrary, the city is as pleasant as can be and the trip was more than welcome. It just strikes me as ridiculous that in the coming presidential election season, not one main candidate from either party will have the balls to be able to endorse gay marriage. Even the most progressive candidates will hem and haw and endorse civil unions, but none of them will be able simply to say they think our country’s laws are unjust. And on the other side of the spectrum, religious and political bigots will continue to seek to implement constitutional amendments that aim to exclude gay people from the institution of marriage.

When I was a kid in northern Arizona, not far from where Dr. Cedric grew up in New Mexico, oldtimers still told stories about what they called “The Honeymoon Trail.” The Mormon pioneers who settled my hometown — including some of my ancestors — would routinely send engaged couples on a weeks-long journey to St. George in southern Utah, the site of the closest Mormon temple, where they could be married according to the dictates of their religion and their conscience. “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven,” according an old Mormon hymn; the blessing those pioneers most desired was a temple closer to home so they could be married without this arduous trek. Some of these weddings, of course, involved other kinds of impediments, since they fell afoul of U.S. law. I was well aware of the fact that some of my ancestors went to prison for performing or entering into marriage relationships that weren’t sanctioned by American law. Even in the late 20th century, when I was a kid, Mormon children were taught to honor these ancestors for sacrifices made to uphold convictions.

I thought of the Honeymoon Trail this weekend in relation to our trip to Canada to see our friends marry. It’s highly likely that Cedric (who shares my southwestern Mormon roots) and G-Lock will tell their own grandchildren about the time when they had to travel so far to find a church and state that would sanction their vows. (And their grandchildren will probably shake their heads in disbelief that such foolish bigotry persisted in the U.S. for as long as it did.) There wasn’t a moment at the wedding reception to make the toast I’d wanted to make in the newlyweds’ honor, so I’ll do it here: Here’s to the end of the Montreal honeymoon trail, to a day when any couple who wishes can be married closer to home, and to a day when more civil and religious institutions and leaders acknowledge that love will flourish wherever it’s found.
here come the grooms

9 responses to “Montreal honeymoon trail”

  1. G-Lock says:

    Bryan, thank you for such a moving and beautiful post, a wonderful and thoughtful tribute to the best day of my and Cedric’s lives.

    My heart is filled with so much love that words cannot do justice to what I feel for those who made the physical trek to be with us and those many friends and family that were with us in spirit.

    When at the altar, I remember trying to focus on the moment. I was a wreck – apparently, this was obvious to our guests, what with my trembling right leg and the supply of Kleenexes passed to me by the minister – and just heard one voice. The voice that came barreling through the clutter of my wracked and emotional brain was that of my cousin, who had looked me in the eye at the rehearsal dinner on Friday evening and said, “Don’t be nervous up there. Try and remember that everyone at the church is on your side and is sending you nothing but unconditional love and support. Let that love just wash over you.”

    For whatever reason, I remembered these words and they gave me focus and girded me in my purpose and my absolute devotion and commitment to Cedric, my true partner. Upon the spontaneous burst of applause in the middle of the ceremony, my heart almost burst through my chest, it was that intense. I doubt I will ever feel that much love in one room ever again. But it was enough to carry me through my lifetime and into eternity.

    Bryan, thanks again for your amazing, inspiring words.

    (We love you guys all so much!!! We’ll report back from our honeymoon next week.)

  2. Rachel says:

    Congratulations, Cedric and G-Lock. I would have loved to have been there to celebrate with you! Montreal is gorgeous, and it sounds like everything went beautifully.

    It’s the USA’s loss.

  3. Lane says:

    We were delighted to read about it in the TImes while waking up here in lovely California.


  4. Dave says:

    Bryan, no Great Whatsit post has made me sit at my desk blubbering before this one. Thanks for such an eloquent expression of the political context of this weekend’s event.

    And Dr. Cedric and G-Lock: Thank you for sharing the beauty of your love and commitment. May you enjoy every happiness in your life together.

  5. Andrea says:

    Thank you thank you thank you Bryan. I love the idea that grandchildren will be aghast at the policies of the past. I hope the idea becomes truth.
    Love to Cedric and G-lock!! Congratulations!
    I was a nervous wreck at the alter too. Don’t remember the first several minutes until I just looked into Bacon’s eyes, fixated and became calm. Imagine that.
    I am so very happy for you…I want to see the Times article.

  6. Tim Wager says:

    A hearty “Hear, hear!” to your toast, Bryan.

    And gushing, joyous congratulations to the newlyweds!

  7. Marleyfan says:

    Amen. And another huge congratulations to Dr.C & G-lock! I too look forward to the day when we recognize and welcome the civil rights of all Americans.

  8. lisa t. says:

    Yes! Yes! Cheers to all of the above! Hooray for what love IS.

    –and heartfelt congratulations to the newlyweds!

    Enjoy your honeymoon. xo.

  9. AW says:

    Heartfelt congratulations to two people I have never met, but whose decision to marry I wholeheartedly respect, honor, and celebrate. And yes, “Hear, hear” to Bryan’s toast.

    Thanks for writing this beautiful post, Bryan, and special thanks to G-Lock for his moving reflections on such an important day. I am proud to know (even if only via the internet) people like you all.