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Health

Vows

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollJune 18, 2008 2:50 AM

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September 29, 2007 was the happiest day of my life.

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But now my happiness is being undermined. Not by my lovely wife, but by all of these Californians who, starting today, are getting legally gay-married. How can we maintain our marital bliss when all around us other people are feeling blissful with partners of the same gender? It's degrading, the Pope says, and who can argue? Okay, it's hard to be snarky about this issue, I'm too sentimental. Discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and other sexual identities is one of the last remaining officially-sanctioned forms of inequity in our culture, and it's incredibly moving to see the joy on the faces of so many newly-married couples as the barriers come (belatedly, tentatively) tumbling down. Today is a big day. If anyone is in need of some good last-minute wedding vows, you are welcome to borrow ours. The algorithm was simple: take the Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony from the Book of Common Prayer, remove all the references to God (there are a lot of them), and sprinkle with some quotes that express your own feelings. Also, substitute appropriate names for the numbers.

OFFICIANT: Dearly Beloved -- We are gathered together here today to witness the joining of [1] and [2] in Matrimony. Marriage is an honorable estate: and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, and soberly. Upon completion of the ceremony, we understand that one is not obliged to remain utterly sober, nor for that matter perfectly discreet. The estate of matrimony attempts the impossible: to formalize the love between two people. In the words of W.H. Auden: Rejoice, dear love, in Love's peremptory word; All chance, all love, all logic, you and I, Exist by grace of the Absurd, And without conscious artifice we die: So, lest we manufacture in our flesh The lie of our divinity afresh, Describe round our chaotic malice now, The arbitrary circle of a vow. By our presence here tonight, we elevate conscious artifice to a heartfelt celebration of the uniting of two lives. Then shall the Minster say unto [1], O: 1, will you have 2 to be your partner in life? Will you love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keeping only to her, so long as you both shall live? 1: I will. Then shall the Minster say unto [2], O: 2, will you have 1 to be your partner in life? Will you love him, comfort him, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keeping only to him, so long as you both shall live? 2: I will. O, to 1: 1, will you take 2's hand and repeat after me. I, 1, take you, 2, to be my partner in life, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part; and thereto I plight my troth. O, to 2: 2, will you take 1 hand and repeat after me. I, 2, take you, 1, to be my partner in life, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part; and thereto I plight my troth. Then shall they again loose their hands; and 1 shall give unto 2 a Ring in this wise: the Officiant taking the ring shall deliver it unto 1, speaking their name out loud, to put it upon the fourth finger of 2's left hand. And 1 holding the Ring there, and taught by the Officiant, shall say, 1: I give you this ring as a symbol of my enduring love. Then 2 shall give unto 1 a Ring in this wise: the Officiant taking the ring shall deliver it unto 2, speaking their name out loud, to put it upon the fourth finger of 1's left hand. And 2 holding the Ring there, shall say, 2: I give you this ring as a symbol of my enduring love. O: Together we have gathered to share our blessings with 2 and 1 as they begin their lives together. As Rainier Maria Rilke once advised a young poet: "We must trust in what is difficult. It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult. It is also good to love, because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is mere preparation.... Love consists in this: that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other." Then shall the Officiant speak unto the company. O: Inasmuch as 1 and 2 have pledged their troth, I now pronounce them together for life. You may celebrate as you wish.

Congratulations to everyone getting married today! Go plight those troths!

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