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Ask Amy faults gay man for objection to discrimination

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

November 24th, 2009

Ask Amy (Amy Dickenson) is the advice columnist that succeeded Ann Landers at the Chicago Tribune. But sadly she is far less astute when it comes to gay issues than Ann.

Today she gave miserable advice to a bride who was indignant that her gay brother-in-law-to-be was unwilling to celebrate an institution in which he was banned from participation.

Dear Amy: My fiancé, “Rob,” and I are getting married. Our wedding party has three attendants on each side, with his brother “Ted” as best man.

Ted has been out of the closet as a gay man for a few years and is supported by his family. Rob, Ted and I frequently see each other outside of family gatherings and enjoy a nice friendship.

Recently, Ted told us he refuses to serve as best man or even attend the wedding because he does not want to be part of a ceremony that he cannot personally enjoy.

Rob and I tried to reinforce how important it is to us to have Ted as a part of our wedding, but Ted told us it was selfish of us to ask him in the first place. We asked Ted months ago, and until recently he never indicated that he was anything less than flattered. Should we ask someone else to be in our wedding party or wait a bit in case he changes his mind?

Rob is incredibly hurt by this decision.

Bashed Bride

Dear Bride: “Ted” loves the institution of marriage so much that he won’t participate in or attend one until he can partake of the privilege himself. By this reasoning, Ted won’t be attending any same-sex wedding ceremonies in states where it is permitted until everyone in every state can marry.

He’s driving a political stake through the heart of an institution he aspires to be a part of. Families contain all types of people, and as someone entering into a new family bond, you will see that sometimes the best you can do is be honest about your disappointment, accept someone else’s unhappiness and move on with grace.

Tell Ted you’re disappointed in his choice but that you accept it and have asked someone else to stand up with you.

My email:

Dear Amy,

Your response to Bashed Bride was astonishingly insensitive and lacking in empathy. You made no attempt to understand what Ted may be feeling or why he responded as he did. In fact, Ted didn’t really factor in your response at all.

The Bride tells us nothing about whether she supports Ted or if she has ever done anything to champion his ability to marry. She simply demands that he support her.

This suggests to me that the Bride has never ever taken a single proactive step in her life to fight for Ted or his relationships or his rights. This bride who “enjoys a nice friendship” seems not to think enough of this friendship to attend a rally, write a state legislator, put up a yard sign, or even casually mention to a neighbor that she supports equality.

Surely, had she done so, she would have mentioned it. But instead she views the situation solely from what is “important” to her. This is a one-sided relationship.

Now, it isn’t bigotry to not even notice gay people or their rights. It isn’t homophobia. It isn’t hatred or animus or any overt mistreatment. Rather, It is what is called heterosexism, the presumption that everything is to be viewed from the perspective of heterosexuals, arranged for their convenience, and that gay people are inconsequential.

And you confirmed her heterosexism. You even went so far as to make the ludicrous claim that because Ted wasn’t celebrating marriage in a state that discriminates against him that therefore he would have to refuse to celebrate states that do. That defies logic.

Now, personally I may have made a decision that was different from Ted’s. I probably would have allowed the bride her selfishness and not have rained on her parade. But neither I nor Ted have any obligation to support our own oppression.

And your response was abysmal. Instead of suggesting a solution, you took this as an opportunity to be petty and dismissive of Ted’s real and legitimate claim about institutionalized discrimination.

And easy answer would have been this: Advise the bride to set aside some part of the ceremony to acknowledge that Ted, and other gay people in attendance, are denied this basic right. Remind the attendees that they can take action to advance the cause of equality for all citizens. Then Ted would not feel like he’s supporting an institution akin to apartheid but instead is part of the solution.

If Ted really is that important to the Bashed Bride, then his equality and civil rights are important to her as well. If she is not willing to allow two minutes on her special day to speak out against injustice, then her claims of “friendship” are nothing but selfishness masquerading as “tolerance”.

Timothy Kincaid
www.boxturtlebulletin.com

Comments

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johnathan
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy, cheers for you! I pray your response is printed in her column for all to see.

One of my greatest fears is being asked to serve as the best man or serve in some ther capacity in a future wedding for my brothers or sister. I do not yet know if I would serve in such a capacity, but I do know if I were to serve as a part of the wedding party for my brother or sister on my father’s side (half brother and sister, to be exact), any statement I would make would be seen as an “embarassment to the joyous day.”

Aconite
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

Shorter Amy Dickenson: How totally insensitive of Ted not to be your posable doll.

Jesus. Fricking. Christ. The bride and groom are “incredibly hurt” because somebody’s keeping them from having the wedding of their dreams?! And they don’t see the slightest bit of irony in that?

Lindoro Almaviva
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

Bravo….

Burr
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

The first time I read Amy’s response I thought it wasn’t that bad, but then I read your response, went back to it, and now I agree with you. There’s something amiss here and there should have been some advice to try and bridge the gap by showing true friendship and concern for one another instead of being upset at someone for not playing along with their carefully crafted script.

Candace
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

Kudos on the email, Timothy.

Mark
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

My emailed response to Ask Amy:

Dear Amy,

A hetetrosexual woman who does not know what it is like to have the majority of the county (including its laws) say you have no right to be marry the partner of your choice. Quelle Surprise!

May I ask you what your advice would be to a white person who had a black relative who refused to participate in a family annual picnic that happened to take place at the site of an historic lynching tree?

What advice would you give to a Christian who was upset that a Jewish
relative didn’t want to participate in a wedding being held on a`Friday night?

What about a male who was upset that his sister wouldn’t want to participate in a celebration of his life at a club that disavows women members?

My guess is that you would talk about FAMILY as you did in your response to Bashed Bride about a gay brother who refused to participate in the very ceremony that he is denied the right to enjoy himself – only my guess is that you would consider that FAMILY stands for bonds that do not ask one another to celebrate another family member’s persecution.

Where was your advice to the “Bashed Bride” to attempt to bridge the gap herself and offer a compromise in the spirit of family such as asking for the vows to include something about two loving partners no matter man and woman or man and man? Do you not think that this small
gesture on the part of the bride would have signaled to her brother that she values her family and not just her ceremony?

I wish I could be angry with you – alas I’m just reassured that this country is full of bigoted prejudiced people who give lip to the notion of equal rights for all Americans as long as it takes no guts
or risks

Signed.

A Gay American who knows what you and all of you are..

Phil
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

I have to respectfully disagree. While Amy’s response reads as a little curt, I don’t think she gave bad advice:

“Tell Ted you’re disappointed in his choice but that you accept it and have asked someone else to stand up with you.”

That sounds perfectly reasonable.

Aconite
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

Phil, that’s the one sentence in Amy’s column that isn’t offensive on its face. The two paragraphs above it, however, make it pretty clear it’s meant along the lines of, “Let the big gay baby have his temper tantrum.”

Eddie89
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

Awesome response to Dear Amy.

Ephilei
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

Yes, Amy’s letter was heterosexist, but IMO, not so strongly as to deserve writing to complain. Aren’t their better fights to fight?

And if I did write a letter, I’d try harder to persuade Amy to see her bias because she may not be aware of it. You catch more flies with honey and all that. Because if I was Amy, I’d read Timothy’s letter as overreacting.

Mark
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

@Ephilei

What fights would you be in the place to assume are not worth one’s time?

In my opinion every fight is worth fighting or else none of them matter.

Whether it is an Ask Amy or Focus on Family – every wrong must be addressed every time. That is your and my burden. Do not toss it aside so easily.

Brian
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

I’m sorry, but I have to disagree as well. I think the kind of bitterness expressed both by Ted, and by many of the comments here does nothing to help the cause, and much to hurt it.

I am all for speaking out and protest to gain the rights that all people deserve, but I think this is a particularly poor way to do it, especially since it was not communicated up front.

All it seems to me that Ted is doing is hurting his already supportive family. What does that accomplish us?

All this seems to be furthering the kind of nasty “us” versus “them” thinking that is the problem in the first place.

Pender
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

I have to say, I agree with Amy’s response from start to end. Specifically, I’d like to hear what is wrong with this logic:

“By this reasoning, Ted won’t be attending any same-sex wedding ceremonies in states where it is permitted until everyone in every state can marry.”

Now, maybe there is a back story. Maybe Ted invited the writer to an equality rally and she refused. Maybe she doesn’t even support equality herself! But we don’t know, and from the facts in the letter, it sounds like Ted is hurting his own brother to no good end. I care passionately about marriage equality, but I can’t imagine holding my inequality against one of my good friends — let alone my own brother! — simply because he wanted to celebrate his own marriage surrounded by friends and family.

Jason D
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

“All it seems to me that Ted is doing is hurting his already supportive family. What does that accomplish us?”

Brian, support without action has a name, it’s called “LIP SERVICE”.

If no finger has been lifted to assist, then someone is NOT SUPPORTIVE. There are all kinds of ways someone can be supportive, but if being nice and not holding being gay against Ted is ALL the bride is doing, she’s taken possibly the laziest and most selfish “supportive” avenue possible.

John
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

It would be interesting to hear from Ted. Perhaps the latest defeat in Maine, coupled with the backpedalling from the Obama adminstration has made him more and more uncomfortable about how he is being treated around issues of equality.

Wedding and wedding planning seems to bring out the worst in people. It would have been better for everyone, if the bride and groom just told Ted how much they would really wanted him in their wedding, but if he didn’t feel up to, they understand and support him.

They could also emphasize that when the day comes that he gets married, they would be more than honored to stand up there beside him to celebrate the day.

David
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

Imagine you’ve just sat down at your kitchen table to enjoy a nice slice of chocolate cake. There’s knock on the door, and your sibling enters.

Do you offer your sibling a piece of cake, or do you eat yours without offering to share?

Common courtesy teaches that you don’t eat in front of people who don’t have food. The “I got mine, scr*w you” attitude of the Bride and Rob is disgusting.

Why is Rob and his bridezilla enjoying something withheld by force of law from Ted? If they really supported him, really truly, they’d postpone getting married until it was legal for him to marry as well.

Elise
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

I feel for Ted and completely support his decision to sit this wedding out, even though I personally made a different decision when it came to the wedding of one of my best friends this past June.

This a dilemma I think every gay person has the right to work out for themselves, and their decision should be respected.

BTW, it seems both Amy and the Bride should have acknowledged that it’s better for everyone’s happiness, his own and the bride and groom’s, if he’s not forced to be at the wedding. Ted did a good thing for both himself and the wedding by honestly assessed his emotions and backing out in advance, rather than be there and being miserable.

Mr. HCI
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

I have been either Best Man, a groomsman or an usher for eight or nine weddings. Admittedly, some were while I was still in the closet, but at least five were after; I was Best Man for two of those.

A wedding is a celebration of the love of two people for one another. It is neither a political event nor a “ha ha f*ck you” to friends and family in same-sex relationships. Typically, people asked to participate are close friends or family that the couple care for so much that they want them to be a part of the celebration.

I have felt greatly honored each time I have asked to be part of a wedding, despite my not currently having the option of legally marrying my common-law husband of 16 years.

If any one in the original letter sounds petulant and vindictive, it’s Ted. The writer and her financée asked Ted to participate because he is special to them, not because they wanted to rub his nose in his lack of legal equality.

One final, and actually most important, note:

Ted was asked to participate in the church ceremony. There are churches throughout the USA that willingly and gladly hold same-sex weddings.

I was never asked, as a Best Man, to go to the courthouse with the bride and groom and participate in the signing of legal marriage documents.

Ted is refusing to participate in a ceremony which holds as much legal weight as one held in a church for a same-sex couple.

He’s making a big-to-do over something he is not denied by law and, in addition, something that is in no way guaranteed to opposite-sex couples, whom churches may refuse to marry for any number of reasons.

Ryan
November 24th, 2009 | LINK

I think it all depends on whether or not Ted’s brother and bride support mariage equality. If they do, then Ted is being incredibly selfish. If they don’t, then they have some nerve asking him in the first place. Something that nobody has brought up yet is the fact that Ted apparently agreed to be in the wedding months ago, “enthusiasticly”, according to the bride. And right before the ceremony he changes his mind? Makes me think there’s more to the story, like maybe he decided he doesn’t like the bride, and is using the gay thing as an excuse. But that’s all speculation. I don’t think there’s enough info here.

Elise
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

Ryan: Why did Ted apparently change his mind? I made the same assumption that John did: that this last election cycle and the defeat in Maine was the straw that broke the camel’s back for him. Certainly I’ve noticed a change in mood among a lot of gay people recently, who’ve gone from cautiously upbeat to effing pissed off over this latest political kick in the stomach.

andrew
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t expect people to intrinsically understand how things impact me as a gay man. I don’t really understand what it’s like to be Asian-American, or Lutheran, or a woman — and I’m sure there are a lot of things I don’t know — and don’t think about — when it comes to touchy issues that aren’t mine. I’d like to be sensitive and thoughtful to everyone, but it’s exhausting, superior, and fraught with its own risks… at some point, it’s like “screw trying to be perfect always”.

That said, when one of my friends with a background I don’t “get” pulls me up short, I try to listen. I don’t always agree — sometimes folks in a subgroup develop victim complexes, or sees intent where none was intended — but I try to leave room for my own ignorance.

And when someone I respect enough to share with says or does something that irks me in its heterosexism, I do what Ted needs to do… I play the role of my own ambassador (without being a bitch). I explain myself gently but firmly, and I leave room for the other person to be confused.

I think this bride is a bit of an insensitive cow… but like many brides, she’s probably suffering from tunnel vision in the face of a mammoth undertaking, which is supposed to go off perfectly. I’m guessing there’s not much left for Ted right now, or anyone else. Ted should be sensitive to that. If he wants Bridezilla on his side, he’ll need to explain himself better. And if she doesn’t care, well, then why would she want him in her bridal party?

Joel
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

I DISAGREE WITH B.T.B.’s assessment.

I thought the advice was spot-on. The last thing the groom needs is for his brother to use the wedding to stage a political protest.

I agree that marriage equality is long overdue, but Ted’s behavior in no way helps the cause.

If Ted had reservations about participating he should have said so much earlier. If he didn’t feel that way when he first accepted, he should be honor bound to fulfill the promise to help his brother on one of the most important days of his life.

Be happy for your brother, Ted, not mad at the government. The ceremony’s not about YOU!

Steve
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

For all of those who are making quick assumptions about Ted and his motivations – What do you really know about the situation outside of what the Bride to be mentioned in her letter?

Don’t any of you find it strange that the Bride would use a public advice column to solve this situation?

And for any who make question Ted making a political statement has it occurred to you that the Bride is playing politics herself?

Be careful all of you who are so quick to judge Ted as making a big to do about nothing unless you know everything that precipitated his decision.

Ben
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

I do not believe Amy Dickinson of Ask Amy is homophobic. She has in the past directed stunned parents to PFLAG, reminding parents that just because their child comes out, they are “not sick or in trouble.”

Because of this, I disagree with some of the assumptions and conclusions made is Mark’s letter. Tim’s letter regarding hetrosexism, however points out that Amy’s advise seems to dismiss “Ted” as an unhappy person who should just deal with it.

I wish we could hear Ted side, as that would shed additional light.

Ben in Oakland
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

I remember this situation coming up before in Dear Abby. This is what I said in my response letter.

“Dear Abby: As an out, partnered, and happy gay man of 55 who is a 100% supporter of gay marriage, I must disagree with your advice to the engaged man whose gay brother refused even to attend his wedding. The gay man should be his brother’s best man because he is his brother, and his best friend. This marriage is an important and joyous time in his life, and his brother should be there for that. The straight brother and fiance, however, should put in their announcement that because of of the discrimination that gay people suffer, all monetary gifts should be donated to the local or state-wide pro-marriage coalition, with an explanation of why. Consciousness is raised, the money goes where it needs to, and everyone but the homophobes is happy.”

problem solved.

but I also sense something in the bride’s letter, and as a wedding photographer with over 1000 brides behind me, I also think Timothy’s email was spot on.

Joel
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

Steve,
Columns of this nature are, by definition, short and to the point. If someone wants to make a big deal out of Amy’s reply BY POSTING A RANT ON BOX TURTLE BULETIN then it’s their responsibility to “know everything that precipitated [Ted's] decision.”

Given the information available in the letter and its reply, I’m think Amy was correct in consoling the bride. (You know, the person who the ceremony’s supposed to be all about? The one who’s doing all of the planning, etc.etc.? Yes, her.)

Stephani Booker
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

Has anyone noticed that Amy called marriage a “privilege”?! To me that says it all: “Gay boy is having a hissy fit over something he’s not entitled to have.” Heterosexist to the max. Marriage is not a like having a driver’s license — it’s not privilege; it’s a right.

Elizabeth
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

Meh. Amy was a tad condescending, but I thought her advice was reasonable. I agree it would have been better if she suggested that the bride acknowledge that gay people can’t get married.

I remember Dan Savage had a caller on his podcast who didn’t want to go to a family wedding b/c he couldn’t get married. Dan essentailly said the same thing as Amy (in much harsher terms), while suggesting the marrying couple acknowledge gays.

John
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

Since we only have these letters to go on, I too must respectfully disagree with you Timothy. Amy’s advice is about what I’d say in her place, though perhaps with more tact. To me family trumps politics in most cases. I see nothing in either letter to dissuade me of that. I have been honored to be part of a heterosexual wedding party before and will do so again if asked.

Jason D
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

“Given the information available in the letter and its reply, I’m think Amy was correct in consoling the bride. (You know, the person who the ceremony’s supposed to be all about? The one who’s doing all of the planning, etc.etc.? Yes, her.)”

So the groom is what, exactly? A prop? If this is all about her, why even bother having a groom? Just celebrate how cool you are.

I’ve noticed more and more this emphasis not on the couple, but on JUST the bride. Even the brides say it themselves “It’s my day.” or they say “My Wedding” instead of “OUR wedding.” It seems to me that a lot of weddings are really just the Bride’s victory dance/middle finger to her ex-boyfriends and female detractors than it is about love or the couple up their exchanging vows. Seems the tables have turned, the wife is no longer the grand prize gift, the groom is.

Maajour
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

To Aconite: “The bride and groom are “incredibly hurt” because somebody’s keeping them from having the wedding of their dreams?! And they don’t see the slightest bit of irony in that?”
Well stated! Irony is a funny thing…you can’t see irony if you can’t see. As well, I didn’t see the irony until you gave it its name: Irony. Thank you.

To Mark: Your comparison of black, Jew, women, was succinct. Could not have made the disparity any clearer. Thank you for sending a response to Amy.

To Kincaid: I originally was going along with Amy until I read your response. What struck me was the explanation of heterosexism. Epiphany. I too was falling in the same thinking for the sake of “politeness.” OUCH. Snap me back to reality. Thank you Kincaid for the illumination and thank you too for sending your response to Amy.

Maajour
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

To Mark: you wrote, “May I ask you what your advice would be to a white person who had a black relative who refused to participate in a family annual picnic that happened to take place at the site of an historic lynching tree?

What advice would you give to a Christian who was upset that a Jewish
relative didn’t want to participate in a wedding being held on a`Friday night?

What about a male who was upset that his sister wouldn’t want to participate in a celebration of his life at a club that disavows women members?”

Mark, the above commentary coupled with Kincaid’s explanation of heterosexism is spot on. This at-large disparity is bigger, deeper and almost incomprehensible due to its enormity and ubiquity. Seriously, keen observations.

One more thing. Read Gab’s article. Excellent. http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=gay_on_trial

fannie
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

My problem with Amy’s advice is her sarcasm in the very first sentence:

““Ted” loves the institution of marriage so much that he won’t participate in or attend one until he can partake of the privilege himself.”

I think she is suggesting that gay people who choose not to participate in other people’s marriage ceremonies until they themselves are allowed to marry do not actually love the institution of marriage at all. It’s true that a wedding is a special day for the couple, but for gay attendees, it’s also a reminder of our status as outsiders. Nowhere does Amy acknowledge this or even sympathize with Ted and the injustice he (and we) face.

I don’t think the exclusivity of marriage crosses many straight people’s minds, especially those who are caught up in planning “their” Very Special days. I don’t think it’s at all selfish of Ted to remind his family, people that supposedly love him, that he is a second-class citizen.

In fact, I think it’s rather selfish of his family to be “disappointed” with Ted for being honest about his discomfort in participating in the ceremony.

Priya Lynn
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

While I can certainly appreciate Ted’s not wanting to be a part of an institution he is banned from, I think for me the decision whether to participate or not would depend not just on the bride and grooms stance on equal marriage, but the church’s where the ceremony is being held as well. If the couple and the church were advocates for equal marriage, I’d participate. If not, no way would I have anything to do with that ceremony.

Regan DuCasse
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

I feel for Ted, and Tim’s response WAS exactly right.
My best friend, who is a gay man (M) and my roommate stood as best man to (S). S is Jewish, was divorced and getting married to his second wife (V) who is Latina and Catholic.
In the eyes of her church and HIS temple, neither one of them should have been able to marry in the eyes of either tradition.
Yet, M, did not stand in judgment of that situation and was an especially sweet and commendable best to the groom and bride.

Comes Nov. 4, and S voted FOR Prop. 8 which banned gay couples from marrying.
The hurt and betrayal was beyond measure. S bought into all those ads about children being taught in schools and integrity of marriage being damages, yadda yadda yadda.
V was livid that her husband could betray one of their best friends that way.

And so the story goes. We’ve heard many say they have gay friends, but showed their true colors at the ballot box.
We know people who consider themselves gay friendly if they haven’t acted directly in a hostile manner towards any gay family or friends, but didn’t actively fight FOR them either (the good people doing nothing to let evil flourish)kind of deal.

Some people might not consider making a political statement during a wedding ceremony appropriate, but when the stakes are like this, a shout out to the gay person standing there supporting THEM, but has no such thing should get a shout out.

And in this instance, TED is the one being blamed, TED is the one being told he’s selfish, that he should just show up and take it, that HE should be the one to forget HIS feelings and go on as if…

How many times have gay folks been spoken to and treated this way as if they shouldn’t have ANY feelings for ANYTHING no matter how deep, how menacing or how difficult it all is, and NO heterosexuals is hurt in the process?

When a gay person shows any act of doing something for their own peace, their own self reliance or their own ability, THEY are accused of being ungracious, petulant and dismissive of straight folk’s feelings??

W.T.F???!!!

I’m seeing nothing BUT the utmost of rubbing so much in gay folks faces and salting the wounds, I can’t believe how much depth of patience and stiff upper lips in the face of such insensitivity, I’m nothing but impressed.

Rebecca Hagelin in her TownHall article “The Promise of Marriage” is one example of that as she waxed oh so sentimental about how wonderful HER marriage has been for 25 years, WHAT it means in the promises and commitments of marriage, and that all those ridiculous gay people better recognize that men and women deserve this better than you and you’ll NEVER get it, and you’ll ruin it if you do.

Salt in the wound…
Rubbing it in every gay person’s face who has put their time in longtime commitment and promises and their children’s lives.

Tim was absolutely right. If the bride and groom want someone like Ted to stand up for THEM, standing up for HIM is only right and fair in it’s reciprocity.

Priya Lynn
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

Regan said “If the bride and groom want someone like Ted to stand up for THEM, standing up for HIM is only right and fair in it’s reciprocity.”.

Nicely summed up Regan, that says it all.

Pender
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

Regan, I think that’s absolutely right if the bride or groom don’t support marriage equality, but nothing in the letter suggest that that is the case.

Joel
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

Jason D,
while I believe the groom is more hurt by “brother Ted’s” poor judgment in staging his political (non)protest, I emphasise that the wedding is all about the bride. Always. They ALL are.

Perhaps it would help if I freely admit no small portion of sexism in this comment – and it ain’t in her favor!

My guess is that the vast majority of grooms/husbands will recognize this “truth”. ;)

Just sayin’…

Greg
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

I agree the first two paragraph’s of Amy’s reply were atrocious. Out of the blue really. The core advice – accept his reasons for declining and choose someone else to stand in at the wedding – is perfectly reasonable. It would have been better for the brother to decline up front rather than months later, but that is understandable as people don’t want to disappoint family, etc.

But the response makes a lot of assumptions and seems to go a bit off the deep end. The wedding is about the bride (and groom but mostly the bride). It’s not about Ted, nor is a political opportunity. Amy’s perspective was heterosexist nonsense and she deserves to be called on it, but turning a wedding into a rally in an attempt to make Ted feel better about being discriminated against serves no one.

Phil
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

“The “I got mine, scr*w you” attitude of the Bride and Rob is disgusting.”

This is a straw man attack. The bride reveals nothing of her stance on marriage equality, and based on the facts presented, Amy gave reasonable advice.

The comparison to holding a wedding under a famous lynching tree isn’t really apt–which is not to say that Ted has an obligation to attend the wedding. But it seems more like asking a friend who has lost his driver license to come with you to help you buy a car. It’s possible that it’s insensitive, but it’s possible that it’s not.

Ben
November 25th, 2009 | LINK

@Phil

“But it seems more like asking a friend who has lost his driver license to come with you to help you buy a car.”

It would be more apt to say “It seems more like asking a friend who cannot get a drivers license because he is unpopular with with cool kids, to come with you to help you buy a car.”

Houndentenor
November 27th, 2009 | LINK

I agree that there are not enough facts to know what I would think and what I would do. I would probably just be the best man and keep my mouth shut in front of my new sister in law. That said, it’s 2009 and people no longer get points just for not kicking us out of the family for being gay. I think most of us discovered who really cared about us and thought of us as their equals over the last few election cycles (including those were gay rights or gay marriage were on the ballot). The lack of empathy in the letter is rather telling. Perhaps it was an oversight but I rather doubt it.

Priya Lynn
November 27th, 2009 | LINK

Yes, Ben, that’s a far more fitting analogy.

Paul in Canada
November 27th, 2009 | LINK

I think that wonderful underlying principle of all great religions and ethical thought would have served both ‘sides’ well in this case… “do unto others….”. Our growing lack to act compassionately, in all circumstances, is driving a wedge further and further between those of us involved in the ‘culture wars’ of our times. I think we could all do well to reflect on what we really believe and how we conduct our selves in accordance. Check out this amazing declaration:
http://charterforcompassion.org/

Dan
November 27th, 2009 | LINK

If Ted had participated in the wedding, children in public schools would be taught about gay best men.

Dave Hughes
November 30th, 2009 | LINK

I think Ted is absolutely right, on principle, to decide not to participate in the wedding.

However, this is one of those occasions when standing on principle may have consequences that are worse than whatever benefits might be gained.

The only benefit I can see that will be gained by this action is that Ted will feel good about the action he took. I think it’s unlikely that the bride or groom or anybody in either of the families will become a stronger supporter of marriage equality as a result of Ted’s action. It’s more likely that the reverse will happen. When people ask “where’s Ted?” and are told why he’s not there, most people will view Ted’s action negatively and it will ultimately reduce support for us and our cause.

In addition to being viewed by others (however wrongly) as a petulent, trouble-causing baby, the other consequence is that it will probably create a permanent rift between Ted and his brother and sister-in-law, and perhaps other family members as well. They will always remember that Ted boycotted their wedding.

When the day comes that Ted marries the man of his dreams, do you think the bride and froom will accept his invitation to attend? He backed out of theirs.

It’s truly a lose-lose situation.

Here’s a similar situation. Recently, a good friend of mine was invited to attend his brother’s wedding. He believed his family was really supportive of him being gay, but then he was told that he couldn’t bring his boyfriend to the wedding as a guest. The reasoning his mother gave was “it will draw attention to you, and the day is not about you, it’s about them.”

Putting myself in his shoes, my first impulse would be to tell them that if I couldn’t bring my BF, I wouldn’t attend. But what positive result would that accomplish? Not much – the negative consequences would far outweigh the positive.

Again, a lose-lose situation for the gay person.

Phil
December 2nd, 2009 | LINK

“Here’s a similar situation. Recently, a good friend of mine was invited to attend his brother’s wedding. He believed his family was really supportive of him being gay, but then he was told that he couldn’t bring his boyfriend to the wedding as a guest.”

I think that situation is more extreme than Ted’s–in this case, the couple getting married are going out of their way to be non-supportive. (It really doesn’t matter what reason the mother gives; by her own logic, the wedding is not about her, it’s about the couple, so the responsibility for disinviting a man’s boyfriend lies with the couple.)

It’s not just overt prejudices that ought to be confronted, it’s hidden prejudices. In this case, the hidden prejudice is the presumption that the friend would be _okay_ with leaving his boyfriend at home to placate wedding guests who might otherwise pay attention to him. It’s the old “I’m not a bigot, but I’m taking an action to avoid offending bigots” stance, and that also is not okay.

Jason D
December 26th, 2009 | LINK

Dave said: “…he was told that he couldn’t bring his boyfriend to the wedding as a guest. The reasoning his mother gave was “it will draw attention to you, and the day is not about you, it’s about them.”

I agree partly with the mother, but her reasoning is completely skewed. “The day is about them, not you” should be the answer she gives when people freak out about a gay couple at the service. The day is not about their bigotry, or about their gasps and pointing, it’s about the couple getting married, so STOP obsessing over the other guests and pay attention to the bride and groom!”

“Putting myself in his shoes, my first impulse would be to tell them that if I couldn’t bring my BF, I wouldn’t attend. But what positive result would that accomplish?”

I can think of several

1 – Self esteem for you.
2 – You are not a prop to be taken out and put on display for other people’s amusement and approval. You are your own person, and should be respected as such.
3 – Demanding fairness is always positive. They would not even THINK of treating a straight couple this way, so why should a gay couple be okay with that?

Dave, you seem to be under the mistaken notion that gay people bear the burden and responsibility for the bigotry and prejudice against them. That we should make exceptions and accomodate the bigotry of others for the sake of “the greater good”. You’re cynically blind to the fact that there can be no “greater good” where bigotry is reinforced and good people are self-oppressing.

I say what good can come of compromising who you are and making everyone else except yourself happy? I say what good can come of bowing to unreasonable and insulting demands?

I say that it is the family that makes such ridiculous and oppressive demands that are the ones at fault, and the only ones who need to make changes.

It’s been my observation that a gay person who’s willing to go to a wedding without their partner this year, will be asked to come to Christmas without him next year. And the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that. Family photos will be taken without the partner. Other siblings will get special gifts on their anniversaries, but not the gay man and his partner. In other words, when we back down we teach other people that they can continue to treat us badly and we will continue to make excuses for them and accept this behavior. And maybe, maybe we’ll accept even more insults and humiliating treatment and call it “good enough”.

A family that treats you like crap is worse than no family that all. Standing on principle means doing so even when there is no apparent benefit.

There is that old saying “All evil needs to flourish in this world is for good people to do nothing.” The same is true for bigotry, when we stand idly by, it grows.

Richard W. Fitch
December 26th, 2009 | LINK

@Jason – Hear! Hear!

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