Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hard Choices and Important Issues

There are a few wedding sites I've read regularly, including a site called WeddingBee. This site is a group blog by selected engaged and recently married women, detailing their planning process, DIY projects, and grand tales of their actual wedding days. I've frequented their message boards, exchanged several messages with other brides there, and was counting down the days until I was eligible to apply to be a Bee ...

until yesterday ...

It turns out that the creator of WeddingBee (known to readers as Mrs. Bee) has sold the site to E-Harmony. She will continue to operate the site and claims the content and format will not change.

I don't begrudge Mrs. Bee for selling the site ... I mean, it has turned into an all-consuming task and the competition for wedding websites like this one has grown incredibly in past years (or so she describes, and I find it quite believable.) And, dear readers, before I continue, let me make it clear that if you met your partner through E-Harmony I in no way begrudge you your own happiness.

However, I have some problems with E-Harmony's policies against same-sex marriage that I just can't look past. They currently do not offer same-sex matches and, while they may claim it is simply a business decision, they have a history of supporting Focus on the Family, an incredibly right wing organization that actually preaches that homosexuality is a mental illness. Wedding Bee, on the other hand, has a history of supporting same-sex marriage/commitment ceremonies, including one of the recent Bees, Mrs. Gingerbread, who recently married her wife in Canada. (Since the announcement Mrs. GB has withdrawn from Wedding Bee.)

While the content of the site may not change in any way whatsoever, every time someone visits this site or links to a vendor advertised there the proceeds will be going towards a causes I oppose. While some Bees have said they feel that continuing to blog on the site and support LGBT rights will help promote change from the inside, the truth is the money generated by interest in their blog posts is still going into the coffers of a discriminatory organization.

I know this may seem like a small thing but I've been looking forward to my Bee application ever since I found the site just weeks after we became engaged. And making the decision to stop visiting the site has stirred up some strong feelings. I know not everyone will agree with me but I feel a responsibility to use this public forum to share my thoughts about this particular subject.

Some of the most positive and influential relationships I have witnessed in my life have been same-sex couples. In college, my scene design professor/mentor and his partner had been together for over twenty years, since the age of 19. They owned a home together, worked hard at their relationship, weathered good times and bad, and were wonderful, supportive partners to one another. My former boss in Houston and his partner actually have a civil union in the state of Vermont (and may be married in Canada, though I'm not sure), have made a public and sacred commitment to one another, but still are not allowed the same legal protections as a married couple in most states. These two examples of stable, healthy, loving relationships have taught me a great deal about what it is to be a good partner to another person and I want so much for these people to have the same recognition by the United States Government that I will have when I marry my husband.

One could split hairs all day about calling such a union a "civil union" vs a "marriage". I don't want or need to change how a church defines marriage. I'm talking about the U.S. Government. And if they call what I will have marriage then I want them to call same-sex legal unions marriage too. If they want to call what I will have a civil union then call them all civil unions. That's really not the point to me. The point is equal recognition. Because haven't we all learned from the civil rights movement that "separate but equal" is a load of b.s.?

That's my soapbox for the day. It is a little disheartening to realize that, ultimately, no one will notice if I don't read WeddingBee anymore. E-Harmony will still get plenty of money, site traffic will probably even increase. And, I'm sure I unknowingly support companies whose practices I disagree with on a daily basis. But we decided that in planning this wedding we wanted to try to make "better" choices, choices that reflect our world view and values ... and I am making the choice to leave WeddingBee.

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