Friday, May 20, 2011

READING: Not Poetry, Not Literature, But a Unique, Objective Definition of Marriage

One of the most original and most special readings i have heard in a ceremony is something which was originally written and stated as part of a 2003 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, holding that the Massachusetts Constitution prohibits denying same-sex couples access to the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage.
Ceramic Doves from DJVenus on Flickr
The following definition of marriage was a fantastic thing to include in the ceremony text, and provides something different for those who think poetry is too corny or don't want to use the same old wedding ceremony readings:
"Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Without question, civil marriage enhances the welfare of the community. It is a social institution of the highest importance. Civil  marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over transient  ones. Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.

Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. Tangible as well as intangible benefits flow from marriage. The benefits accessible only by way of a marriage license are enormous, touching nearly every aspect of life and death.

It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a civil right."

- by Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, from Goodridge v. Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, 440 Mass. 309.

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