Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.


I am pleased to announce that Miss Perfect and I are married!

The wedding was on a lovely Saturday afternoon, just a couple of weekends ago. The bride was radiant in her dress, the groom dashingly handsome in tails. After photographs and dinner, we danced all night. It was a beautiful day with family and friends.

I used to have a hypothesis about weddings, and it was that they’re intended as a stress test for the relationship. If your relationship could survive the planning, the organisation, and the negotiation of a thousand details, then you passed the qualifying round. But this wedding wasn’t like that at all, mostly because Miss Perfect did such a great job of organising things, and we fully agreed with each other on colours, typefaces, flowers, cakes, and music. We worked together to make invitations and menus. There were only a couple of times throughout the process when we asked each other: Why are we doing this again?

Why were we getting married? Secular atheists don’t need marriage. We’d been living together, sleeping together, building our home together for the last five years. We were already both committed to each other for the rest of our lives. We won’t change, we told each other. We won’t start acting ‘married’ — wait, is that a bad thing?

Okay, so if nothing is going to change, then why go through an elaborate wedding and become married people?

And the answer was simple: It was a chance to throw a really great party. No, really; great clothes, a choir, music, pomp. Especially the pomp. What a great opportunity to gather a whole bunch of people together (even family and friends from America) and have a whole day to celebrate love and relationships.

But the thing about that — after the wedding, for a couple of days, we were on a huge high from the outpouring of love from everyone and from each other. It was like being on a serotonin water-slide, riding on waves of affirmation from everyone.

We noticed another thing after the wedding. We felt like more of a couple. Of course, we walked around the house saying, “Hello Mr” and “Hello Mrs”, enjoying that unfamiliar strangeness. But we also felt more solid somehow. More established and grown-up. Our relationship was official. Society approved. Which is silly, but that’s how it feels. It feels like being real.

Marriage equality has been on my mind. Washington’s gay-marriage initiative passed last month (and I was pleased to have voted for it). However, in Australia, it’s still not legal. The marriage celebrant even had to include this little gem in her bit:

Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life …

which discriminates against not only my gay friends, but also my polyamorous friends. Seriously — isn’t that the kind of thing adults can decide for themselves? We have a long way to go, it seems.

So amid the wedding buzz and all the friends and the food and the love, and above all, my beautiful bride and I entering into a new stage of our relationship with a shiny new official status, I thought: Screw anyone who would try and prevent someone – anyone, I don’t care who – from having this, from feeling this way. It’s too wonderful to stop. Seriously — find me someone who thinks this. I’ll slap them upside the head and ask what’s wrong with them. Consenting adults in a loving relationship shouldn’t be allowed to have this amazing experience? Just because you don’t like their kind of relationship? Get out of town. This attitude isn’t just bigoted; it seems to originate from a kind of viciousness that’s worse than mere bigotry.

There are many arguments for marriage equality. Some involve hospital visits and wills, and some involve basic fairness. I’d like to add one to the list. Having a wedding is wonderful. So is the way you feel about your partner and your relationship afterward. That should be for everyone.

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Our wedding booklet contained this snippet:

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. 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. 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.

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.’ Without the right to choose to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 2003


  1. Thanks for having us at your wedding! It's always hard to go to an event like that where you don't know anyone, so we really appreciated you making a special effort to say hi to us and we had some great chats with Miss Perfect's nephew, a soil guy, and a few others.

    It was the best one we've ever been to by far. Amazing to see how awesome a truly secular ceremony can be! (And good on you for having all the food vegetarian – gives us a precedent to do the same thing :D)

    With you on the laws requiring the discriminatory sentence – me and Mr Wrong are dead set against having a legal wedding ceremony if that part of the law isn't changed.

    Thanks again for having us, it was a wonderful day and we were glad to have been able to be a part of it.

  2. You realise Daniel, that now you're going to have to call Merryn "Mrs Perfect", and just tough out the accidental self-reference 🙂

  3. You make a solid case for secular marriage.
    Last year at my sister's wedding I visibly winced when that sentence was read out. I asked the celebrant (my sister's close friend) about it at the reception, and she just sighed and told me she HAD to, it was law. until that is changed, I won't even consider it. I am very happy for you and Merryn, maybe wedding planning is a side career, seeing you two enjoyed it so much?

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