Emily Rizzo

May 1999

Commitment Ceremony

Q. My girlfriend and I are getting married in a commitment ceremony next month. My parents have been wonderful: they've offered to pay for most of it which isn't cheap since we'll have sit down dinner for 125. My girlfriend's family is a lot less enthusiastic; they've agreed to come but they haven't offered to help pay for it even though they were more than generous when my sister got married a few years ago. They've never been very comfortable with my being a lesbian even though they were very nice to my girlfriend when she came to visit over Christmas. What should I do?

A. Big weddings can try the souls of even the straightest couples and same-sex unions can have an added dimension of stress.

First, you are fortunate that your own family is so enthusiastic and supportive. As for your future in-laws, you're probably better off letting your girlfriend call the shots; after all, it's her family and she's had to deal with them all her life. But they're going to be your family too from now on, whether or not they like to admit it, so you've got a stake in what happens as well.

As for the immediate issue of their contribution, perhaps they will be ashamed when they attend and learn what your own parents have done. You can only hope that your own parents' enthusiasm is contagious.

Once the wedding is over, however, you and your spouse will have to come to some kind of agreement as to how she will deal with her family. Remember, though, you will have a life time together to work out your problems so don't push her into making a decision that she won't be comfortable with.

It's unfortunate that many families don't take commitment ceremonies between gay couples with the same seriousness as straight marriage. That's just one more reason to argue for full marriage rights for same sex couples in addition to all the other financial and legal benefits.

For questions on coming out, parents, or other family-related issues, please write to Emily.Rizzo@nyu.edu.

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