(This is from my quakerqueeries.blogspot.com posting): 

Last night a friend was telling me that one of his colleagues – a gay man – just proposed to his companion.  With the recent approval of same-gender marriage, this is great that people can do this.  It’s a true celebration of the achievements of the gay rights movement and the progression of society.  But when I heard that the happy couple wants to have a big bash wedding and reception at the Newseum (rental alone is in the 10’s of thousands), I had to give pause.  Earlier in the day, I heard a news story from Maryland about some legislative snags in a bill to approve gay marriage in that state.  A legislator from Montgomery County stated that this issue is about civil rights.  I have to say, when I put these two items together, I’m not as passionate about the cause.  


The issue for me is not about marriage.  If we in the gay community are going to consider our cause a part of the larger civil rights and social justice movement, we should also be challenging each other in extending compassion and consideration to others.  Personally, I’m not speaking up for gay rights so that wealthy gays and lesbians can have 6-figure weddings, and I don’t call that progress.  To me, it’s just a gay form of greed, selfishness and conspicuous consumption and these are at the real basis of any true civil rights issue, in my opinion. 


It saddens me to see a segment of our society that know what it is to be marginalized acquire rights and then gleefully spend while forgetting that there are those who continue to be marginalized.  To celebrate that greed and materialism transcend race, color and sexual orientation is no celebration at all.  It’s a slap in the face of those still in need, and until we get serious about the underlying issues and connections, there will be no true equality.

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I feel that the question of money as it relates to civil rights is always one that may include greed, yet if wealthy people are so moved to provide funding for the general concern of equality in the form of weddings, finding a cure for AIDS, general inclusion in religions, and that incluion in educationg our youth on what same sex attraction means. It maybe that some of the struggle that government has not been able to remedy may benefit by the cutting of costs to forward a movement. Economic influence is not always easy to determine. An entirely LGBT friendly nation would need the funding to support it's progress, and yet in terms of spending the money on a wedding itself without the benefit of demonstrating it's own merit, may be a way of just living in a world divided between the have's and have nots. While I support the economic and political funding of gay civil rights. I too would hate to have to feel that my own personal effort, contribution, growth and development is a humble if not feeble comparasin to those who can provide this funding based on the fact that I live basically in poverty. 

Friends have a ministry of bearing witness to marriage, which we see clearly in the Gospels and Quaker tradition, which one would expect with the revival of primitive Christianity. Within Britain Yearly Meeting, who were performing same-sex marriages even before they were recognised in law, the Lord’s work of marriage is discerned by a Clearness Committee. The marriage is then witnessed within a Meeting for Worship for Marriage and all present sign the marriage certificate.

Fanciful trappings are superfluous and would nullify a testimony to simplicity. When I married my partner, we spent less than £1000 on everything, though many people I know have spent £15-20,000, and nobody brought anything which would be worn or used only once. This is fairly standard for Friends in my experience and anything more would lead me to suspect that there may be something fragile within the ego, where outward things are needed to provide reassurance, or to mollify anxiety or insecurity concerning the relationship.

I was overjoyed when we achieved marriage equality in the United Kingdom and hope for a time when all people can embrace simplicity, but extravagance transcends sexuality, so all we can do is bear testimony to the fruits of plain living.

Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment? (Advice 41 from Quaker Faith & Practice of Britain Yearly Meeting).


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