Rituals of Gay and Lesbian Weddings

USA TODAY, April 1999 | Go to article overview

Rituals of Gay and Lesbian Weddings


As activists and politicians debate the merits and drawbacks to samesex marriages, Ellen Lewin, associate professor of women's studies and anthropology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, has taken a step back to look at the rituals involved in these ceremonies and what they represent for the couples, as well as for society as a whole. She interviewed more than 50 gay and lesbian couples who had held "commitment ceremonies" as part of the field work for her book, Recognizing Ourselves: Ceremonies of Lesbian and Gay Commitment.

Some couples see their marriage as a way for their relationship to be recognized as a heterosexual relationship would be--in essence, a way for them to be "just like everybody else." On the other hand, some gay couples think that, by publicly announcing their love for and commitment to one another in a ceremony, they are advancing the more radical or "in-your-face" aspects of gay culture.

Lewin says her research did not identify any typical gay wedding, but that the ceremonies have in common the fact that they are "grounded in a particular social, political, and historical context in which gender is an embattled domain and inequality based on sexual orientation has become visible to a perhaps unprecedented degree. …

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