- SLDN advises gay and lesbian soldiers not to participate in DADT survey: Last week the Pentagon sent out 400,000 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell surveys to enlisted men and women. While the Defense Department maintains it plans to keep all responses confidential, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Networkwarns gay troops to tread lightly when filling out the form (they are due on August 15). “As a legal services group, our focus is on ensuring adequate legal protections for those gay and lesbian service members that participate in the surveys,” said Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN’s executive director. “We continue to have discussions with DOD and are working to make sure gay and lesbian service members are protected. At this time, our warning stands that gay and lesbian service members should not take the survey unless adequate legal protections are put in place.” When it comes DADT matters, SLDN is on target. Pay attention to them soldiers. Oh, and by the way? The survey questions are ridiculous!
- Spain wins the World Cup. Congrats to Spain for its victory (unfortunately it was marred by terror attacks in Uganda). With the tournament over, American conservatives can stop whining and now enjoy their manly, non-socialistic, sports in peace.
- White House to introduce national AIDS strategy. On Tuesday the Obama administration will present its national AIDS/HIV strategy. Considering how AIDS advocates are taking the White House to task, this new policy will do one of two things: a) quiet his critics, b) show that when the topic is gay this White House is utterly tone deaf.
- Manhattan Borough President will get married in the Nutmeg State. Scott Stinger, a “New Yorka” through and through, plans to marry fiancée Elyse Buxbaum in Connecticut later this year. Why? As a protest for the lack of marriage rights in the Empire State. “If enough people who have somewhat of a profile — not just politicians, but artists and business leaders — start going into Massachusetts or Connecticut and show New York how embarrassing it is that you can’t get a marriage license for same-sex couples, then we will change things.”
- Whose that girl? Rachel Maddow had an old school look back in the day. Bet she broke many young hearts!
- Suspect arrested in year old murder. Paulina Ibarra, a transgendered woman, was murdered in her Hollywood home in August 2009. Last week the police arrested Jesus Catalan as a suspect. The case is being investigated as a hate crime.
- What will Obama do with DOMA? TheAtlantic’s Marc Ambinder says the Justice Department is going to take its sweet time trying to decide how to handle last week’s DOMA decision. Makes sense. No matter what path he takes, Obama will be slammed. He can only win with gay marriage advocates by opposing DOMA. That is never going to happen. As for the other side, it’s convinced he is a same-sex marriage advocate. You know it’s bad when Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, charged the Justice Department with “deliberately sabotag[ing] this case.” Drama queen.
- Heat wave. Last week the East Coast was hit with crazy heat. The best way to survive high temps is to ogle at shirtless men.
Depending on whom you read and rely on, the DADT ban is or is not about to be history. Many stories have been written on the proposed law, but not much has been said about this point: If the repeal does go through, the case for marriage equality becomes rhetorically stronger. Why?
First, unlike many of the laws that seek equality for the LGBT community, DADT and the ban on same-sex marriages are instances where the government itself is doing the discriminating.
Thus, the rhetoric that’s used in one case applies to the other: Government should treat all of its citizens equally. Even an unreconstructed libertarian like Rand Paul – currently in boiling water because of his statements that the government shouldn’t tell private businesses whom they can and can’t deal with (including, say, African-Americans) – should support a principle of basic fairness and equality for all citizens. (He doesn’t, of course, so his libertarianism is born of convenience, not principle.)
Second, the most-often heard argument against allowing gay and lesbian soldiers into the military is that they will disrupt “unit cohesion.” But if this argument is ultimately rejected in the one area in which it at least sounds plausible (if only because of a homophobic atmosphere that has too often come from higher-ranking military), that rejection weakens a similar argument that’s advanced by many of those who oppose marriage equality: Allowing gays, lesbians, and transgendered people to marry will weaken heterosexual marriages – disrupt their “unit cohesion,” if you will.
But if folks in the military can somehow learn to deal with gay and lesbian troops who live and fight alongside them every day, then surely straight couples can absorb the blow inflicted by living in the same society as same-sex couples.
Sometimes the argument is pitched at a slightly more sophisticated level: While marriage equality won’t immediately affect heterosexual couples, in the long run it will change the message of marriage by suggesting that the biological connection between parents and children isn’t important.
Maggie Gallagher is perhaps the anti-equality spokesperson most associated with this argument, but I’ve also heard it made during litigation. For example, during oral argument before the Iowa Supreme Court, the state’s dramatically unsuccessful effort (7-zip) to block equality leaned almost exclusively on a version of that argument.
Courts, though, are rarely impressed by such abstract arguments – especially when they carry more than a whiff of desperation. You’ll notice that the anti-equality forces haven’t been especially vocal about opposing adoption, surrogacy, or no-fault divorce laws, all of which of course sever the biological connections between parents and their children.
Nor do they acknowledge that marriage sends a bunch of other messages, too – including that one about commitment and the raising of children, together.
Against these arguments stand the obvious and debilitating discrimination against all of us – those who’d marry if we could, and those who wouldn’t but who are constantly reminded of our second-class citizenship. Faced with the balancing of that ledger, any self-respecting court should require sounder arguments for the continued exclusion of LGBT couples from the institution of marriage.
And recently, they have: Supreme Courts in California (pre-Prop 8), Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut have all read their state constitutional guarantees of equality to require the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Are there other arguments against marriage equality?
Not good ones.
Even Justice Scalia admitted, in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, that the marriage-procreation link isn’t a reason (we don’t require proof of reproductive capacity), and the related arguments that opposite-sex couples “need” marriage because only they can procreate “accidentally” (Oops! I Procreated Again!) is just plain dumb (even though it was accepted by the highest courts in both Washington and New York).
Religious arguments, of course, have no place in a public debate (for one thing: whose religion controls?)
So we’re left with this kind of discomfort with marriage equality – that somehow it will affect straight marriages, however indirectly and over time. Once this “unit cohesion” argument falls in the military setting, its demise in civilian life should be briskly achieved. Let’s begin to press this argument.
John Culhane is Professor of Law and Director of the Health Law Institute at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. He blogs about the role of law in everyday life, and about a bunch of other things (LGBT rights, public health, science, certain sports, pop culture, music, philosophy and lots of personal stuff) at: http://wordinedgewise.org. A fuller bio can be found here. He can be reached via email at: email@example.com.
A 365gay reader asks Sarah Jessica Parker: “I just went on a date with a great new guy, we hit it off… But the sex was ehh. What do I do?”
Logo’s Will Pulos harasses our nation’s military and talks to the Director of “Stuff and Unstrung” currently playing at The Union Square Theatre in NYC.
Blogger Mike Rogers has gone nuclear against Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk. The politician earned Rogers’ ire because of his pro DADT vote last week—only five House Republicans voted for repeal.
“In an effort to move the base in the Illinois Senate race , Kirk decided to tack right and that means throwing the gays (like him) under the bus.”
Rogers talks about anonymous sources who insist Kirk is gay (2 of them allege they had sex with the guy). The blogger recounts his own Kirk past (no sex involved). The two met at a 2004 Washington, DC party, and the Republican outed himself in a casual conversation. Kirk apparently was into the male friend who brought Rogers to the soiree. Between 2001 and last year, the Republican was married to Kimberly Vertolli.
Rogers airs all of this because he thinks Kirk’s DADT vote stinks with hypocrisy. Fair point, but the reporter never explains why supporting DADT is problematic. He kicks open Kirk’s alleged glass closet because of pique over a vote. When the Republican was OK on gay issues, at least according to the Human Rights Campaign, there was no need to share any of this. In the world according to Rogers, vote right and you can stay on the closet. Cross him and your laundry will be made public.
I’m in the minority about this, but outing is an ineffective political strategy. It gins up our moral outrage, but where are the tangible political gains? Are we closer to the repeal of DADT? Marriage rights? An ENDA vote?
Outside of seeing someone squirm under the media glare, the freedom movement, such as it is, is not advanced by sifting through supposed closed door habits.
Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican Congressman long suspected by the gay community to be, well, gay – actually is, according to Mike Rogers.
The interesting thing here is that Kirk has a pretty pro-gay voting record, voting for ENDA, against a constitutional ban on gay marriage (twice) – and even voting to re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment (not specifically gay, but lesbian feminists like myself are cheering).
So why is a gay activist – who also outed clearly anti-gay Mark Foley and Larry Craig – outing this guy?
He voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Rogers says Kirk came out to him (kinda) at a party in 2004:
“I was introduced to [Kirk] by the person I came with and at the time did not realize he was a member of the House. As my friend walked away, Kirk asked me if the man who introduced us was ’single or attached.’ When I said that he had a partner Kirk replied disappointingly, ‘Oh, well.’ At the end of that interaction I walked away and didn’t think much of it at the time.”
And after the DADT vote, two men wrote him to say they had slept with Kirk.
Kirk is running for Senate this fall – and he is in the military (he’s a Commander in the Naval Reserves).
What do you think about this, folks? Do you think his gayness will make a difference in the election? Is there actual hypocrisy here, or was this just a bill he didn’t agree with (not all gay people vote in lockstep, after all, and the House didn’t need his vote to pass the bill). Or is this anti-gay vote a bid to help his election – and so the worst kind of hypocrisy?
(San Diego) A group of conservative attorneys say they are on a mission from God to unseat four California judges in a rare challenge that is turning a traditionally snooze-button election into what both sides call a battle for the integrity of U.S. courts.
Vowing to be God’s ambassadors on the bench, the four San Diego Superior Court candidates are backed by pastors, gun enthusiasts, and opponents of abortion and same-sex marriages.
“We believe our country is under assault and needs Christian values,” said Craig Candelore, a family law attorney who is one of the group’s candidates. “Unfortunately, God has called upon us to do this only with the judiciary.”
The challenge is unheard of in California, one of 33 states to directly elect judges. Critics say the campaign is aimed at packing the courts with judges who adhere to the religious right’s moral agenda and threatens both the impartiality of the court system and the separation of church and state.
Opponents fear the June 8 race is a strategy that could transform courtroom benches just like some school boards, which have seen an increasing number of Christian conservatives win seats in cities across the country and push for such issues as prayer in classrooms.
“Any organization that wants judges to subscribe to a certain political party or certain value system or certain way of ruling to me threatens the independence of the judiciary,” San Diego County’s District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.
“Judges should be evaluated based on their qualifications and their duty to follow the law.”
The campaign by California’s social conservatives comes at a time when judges and scholars in many states are debating whether judges should be elected or appointed, citing the danger that campaign contributions could influence their rulings. Other states have lifted restrictions allowing judges to express their opinions publicly so people know what their biases are.
Special interest groups, including those representing gay marriage opponents, have ramped up donations for judicial races in recent years, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s school of law.
In Iowa’s June 8 primary, two Republican gubernatorial candidates have announced they favor ousting Supreme Court judges whose unanimous decision last year legalized same-sex marriage.
“An effective way in driving policy is to try to influence who is on the courts in a state, particularly the highest court, the supreme court,” said Adam Skaggs, counsel for the Brennan Center. “It’s cause for concern because Americans expect courts to be places where people get a fair trial.”
Most of those efforts have been aimed at state supreme courts, not courts like San Diego Superior Court that rules on custody battles and crime cases.
Called “Better Courts Now,” the movement was the brainchild of Don Hamer, San Diego County’s late Zion Christian Fellowship pastor who campaigned locally for California’s ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8, and vetted the candidates before he died of a heart attack in March.
His fellow Pastor Brian Hendry and other supporters have carried on his legacy, launching the mostly online campaign to replace the incumbent judges – all Democrats – with Christian conservatives.
Backers include El Cajon Gun Exchange, a store that encourages customers to fight for California’s gun owners and visit the “Better Courts Now” website before voting. Pastors have vowed to spread the word. Hendry said the group had raised about $2,000 last month.
Some say it would not take much to win the traditionally low turnout race. The election usually draws fellow judges, attorneys, prosecutors and others closely following the legal community.
Lantz Lewis, who has been a judge for 20 years, said his opponent’s campaign is taking judicial elections in the wrong direction.
“I have no problem with elections, but I think it really should focus on a judge’s qualifications, and it’s very difficult to think something good could come out of a partisan judicial election,” he said.
“Better Courts Now” says it wants courts to be more accountable to the public.
At a debate the group organized at the Rancho del Rey church in San Marcos, a sprawling city of strip malls and suburban earth-tone homes perched atop green canyons, candidate Harold J. Coleman Jr. told supporters it’s fair for voters to know a judge’s values.
“That doesn’t mean he won’t follow the law,” Coleman said as his supporters faced a wall with the words, “Live Jesus.”
About 25 attendees broke into prayer at the church, which was in an office complex shared by an Irish dance studio and gymnasium.
Organizers invited the incumbents but none came.
Lewis said “Better Courts Now” appears to be seeking allegiance to its views – not accountability.
“That’s one of the reasons, we declined the invitation to go to that forum,” he said. “I just don’t think judges should be in a situation, where they are asked, ‘Do you believe in God, abortion, gay marriage?’”
If judges proclaim to be either liberals or conservatives, people will feel the decks are either stacked against them or in their favor. If only one parent goes to church and the other does not in a child custody battle, a judge proclaimed to be a conservative Christian may favor the churchgoer, he said.
The district attorney and nearly every judge on the bench are endorsing incumbents Lewis, Robert Longstreth and Joel Wohlfeil, rated by the San Diego County Bar Association as “well qualified,” its highest grade.
The bar rated Candelore and his running mates Bill Trask and Larry “Jake” Kincaid as “lacking some or all of the qualities of professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and temperament indicative of fitness to perform the judicial function in a satisfactory mode.”
Trask is a lawyer for a mortgage firm and Kincaid is a family law attorney.
The bar said it did not have enough information to rate Coleman, an arbitrator for business disputes. He faces Judge DeAnn Salcido, who also received the bar’s lowest mark of “lacking qualifications.”
The Better Courts Now candidates accused the bar of being swayed by politics.
Candelore said a victory would mark only the beginning: “If we can take our judiciary, we can take our legislature and our executive branch.”
The future Pope Benedict XVI refused to defrock an American priest who confessed to molesting numerous children and even served prison time for it, simply because the cleric wouldn’t agree to the discipline. The case provides the latest evidence of how changes in church law under Pope John Paul II frustrated and hamstrung U.S. bishops struggling with an abuse crisis that would eventually explode.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press from court filings in the case of the late Rev. Alvin Campbell of Illinois show Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, following church law at the time, turned down a bishop’s plea to remove the priest for no other reason than the abuser’s refusal to go along with it.
“The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself,” Ratzinger wrote in a July 3, 1989, letter to Bishop Daniel Ryan of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill.
With the church still recovering from a notable departure of priests in the 1970s to marry, John Paul made it tougher to leave the priesthood after assuming the papacy in 1978, saying their vocation was a lifelong one. A consequence of that policy was that, as the priest sex abuse scandal arose in the U.S., bishops were no longer able to sidestep the lengthy church trial necessary for laicization.
New rules in 1980 removed bishops’ option of requesting laicizations of abusive priests without holding a church trial. Those rules were ultimately eased two decades later amid an explosion of abuse cases in the United States.
Campbell’s bishop had requested that he be quickly defrocked, in part to spare the victims the pain of a trial, but Ratzinger’s response was in keeping with church law at the time. Bishops retained the right to remove priests from ministry or to go through with a trial and recommend to Rome a cleric’s defrocking, and nothing prevented them from reporting such crimes to police as they should have done, the Vatican has argued.
“Nothing in the new code prevented a bishop from exercising his discretion to restrict ministry or to assign a priest to a job where he was out of contact with the public,” said Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s attorney in the U.S.
Campbell’s is one of several decades-old cases to emerge in recent months raising questions about Ratzinger’s decisions and the church law he was following involving abusive priests as head of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal watchdog office, a position he took in 1981. The round of scandals worldwide left the Vatican initially blaming the media and groups supporting abortion rights and gay marriage, but recently Benedict has denounced the “sin” that has infected the church.
John Paul’s views on laicizations were made known in a 1979 letter to priests, in which he wrote that their ordination was “forever imprinted on our souls” and that “the priesthood cannot be renounced.” Ryan, in his letter to Ratzinger, quoted Campbell saying essentially the same thing: “Once a priest, always a priest.”
“The whole idea was that the priesthood was so sacred you couldn’t kick these guys out,” said the Rev. Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer who reviewed the Campbell case and who has advocated for abuse victims. “It wasn’t that it wasn’t possible – it was possible – but the practice had been not to accept the petition unless the priest accepted.”
Campbell’s misdeeds date back at least 15 years before his defrocking.
As an Army chaplain, he was reprimanded and ultimately left the service after abusing at least one boy, according to military and church correspondence. An Army letter in his file said he had exploited his rank and position as a chaplain “by engaging in indecent homosexual acts” with a child under 16 who had been under his supervision.
Even so, Bishop Joseph McNicholas, then at the helm of the Springfield diocese, wrote to him, “Be assured that we will welcome you with open arms here at home.” While church officials overseeing clergy in the military were alerted of Campbell’s actions, and reference is made to the molestations in Ryan’s letter to Ratzinger, it’s not clear whether McNicholas knew.
Campbell became a pastor upon his return to the diocese. In at least three instances after returning to diocesan work, he was forced to depart jobs as parish pastor or administrator “for reasons of health,” a euphemism for sexual abuse used within the church that Ryan himself put in quotes.
After workers at a rape crisis center alerted authorities that they were treating one of Campbell’s victims, police found he had been plying boys with video games, bicycles, watches and other gifts to get them to the waterbed in his second-floor rectory bedroom. Ryan sent Campbell to a New Mexico treatment facility after the arrest.
Campbell was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1985, after admitting to molesting seven boys during his time as pastor of St. Maurice Parish in Morrisonville, Ill. He was released in 1992 after serving about seven years for sexual assault and sexual abuse.
Ryan apparently waited four years after Campbell went to prison, according to church files, before asking for the priest’s defrocking. It’s unclear what accounted for the delay.
In his 1989 letter to Ratzinger, Ryan outlined Campbell’s many offenses against children and asked for his laicization. He pointed out the local notoriety of the priest’s case and said his crimes and those of another abusive priest had already cost the diocese $1.5 million in damages and legal fees.
“I fear the infliction of further pain upon the victims of his criminal activity and their families,” Ryan wrote. “I fear that the diocese will suffer further pastorally and in public relations, to say nothing of greater financial damage.”
Ratzinger refused, citing Vatican policy, and told the bishop to proceed with a church tribunal.
It is unclear whether a church trial was ever held for Campbell. After his release from prison, he was cajoled by Ryan and his subordinates into accepting his defrocking. Three years after Ryan’s initial letter to Ratzinger, the bishop’s request to Rome was granted.
For bishops attempting to remove a child molester without a church trial or the priest’s cooperation in the 1980s, requests were rebuffed and sent back to diocesan tribunals where the cases could stagnate for years. While a full-fledged canonical trial could make sense given such a serious crime, bishops found them virtually inapplicable, in part because the statute of limitations very often had expired well before allegations had even been reported. Bishops’ hands, in some cases, were tied.
“In that case, it was tied by the universal law of the church,” said Monsignor Kenneth Lasch, a retired priest and canon lawyer who has advocated for abuse victims. “Rome would take the position at that time that unless he was convicted canonically, they wouldn’t laicize.”
Lena defended the church’s handling of cases, but said it has been improved with revisions.
“Is our criminal justice system broken because procedures are complex, or because they are designed to ensure that an innocent person is not wrongly convicted? Any mature criminal justice system – including the canonical system – has two duties: to punish the guilty and, of no less importance, to protect the innocent from mistaken prosecution. Sometimes, in a rush to judgment, people forget about the latter,” Lena said.
“And of course, legal systems can always be improved. I think the consensus is that the implementation of SST and the procedures developed in its wake improved the canonical system,” he said.
SST is short for “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela,” John Paul’s 2001 letter that, among other things, mandated all abuse cases would be overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger’s office.
Kathie Sass, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Springfield, said no one familiar with the intricacies of the Campbell case was still working in the tribunal and able to talk.
Sass said Ryan, who lives in a nursing home outside the diocese, was unable to respond to questions. He retired in 1999 under a cloud of accusations of sexual relationships with male prostitutes and at least one priest; his successor found that he had engaged in “improper sexual conduct,” allegations Ryan denied.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said that in Campbell’s case “and hundreds like it, Ratzinger chose to put concerns about dangerous pedophiles and the church’s reputation above concerns about children’s safety.”
Others believe the ultimate blame lay with John Paul, whose policies the cardinal was interpreting.
“Ratzinger was just obeying his boss,” said Doyle.
John Paul “certainly, I would say, is more culpable than Benedict,” said Lasch.
The Vatican previously accepted involuntary laicizations, but turbulence of the 1970s, in which the Catholic Church suffered a huge worldwide loss of priests, helped push John Paul to revise the policy and promulgate the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which emphasized more due process rights for priests and discouraged penal sanctions.
“It didn’t have any provisions in it for involuntary laicizations,” said Msgr. John Alesandro, a canon lawyer and professor at Catholic University. “But I think most canonists believed that whether it was in the Code of Canon Law or not, the pope could do it.”
John Paul did not, and as the abuse crisis exploded in the Catholic Church in the United States, bishops grew frustrated.
Alesandro sat on a Vatican-commissioned panel examining the policy, which ultimately was revised under “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.” In 2003, new revisions gave bishops the right to ask the Vatican to laicize a priest through a speedier administrative procedure, or for the CDF itself to forward a defrocking case directly to the pope if the evidence is overwhelming.
(Moscow) Two Gay Pride parades were held without arrests in Moscow on Saturday, the first time the notoriously intolerant Russian authorities have not intervened since the inaugural attempt to hold the event in the capital in 2006.
The activists’ spokesman claimed that the absence of harrasment, beatings and detentions was due to their “military planning” rather than any kind of warming toward non-traditional orientation among officials.
Moscow riot police typically disperse such gatherings with brute force, emboldened by declarations from city Mayor Yury Luzhkov equating homosexuals with the devil.
The activists also blame Russia’s resurgent Orthodox Church, which publicly and sternly denounces gay culture, for fomenting homophobia.
About 25 activists held a short demonstration on The Arbat, a pedestrian street lined with shops and cafes that is one of Moscow’s main tourist draws.
They marched for about 10 minutes, holding banners and shouting slogans such as “No discrimination on the grounds of orientation.” Some observers waved and laughed, and there were no signs of hostility.
Police did not try to disperse the march, but when the demonstrators saw a line of uniformed officers blocking the street ahead of them, they scattered.
A few hours later in northwestern Moscow a smaller, international group including British activist Peter Tatchell unveiled a long rainbow flag and chanted “Russia without homophobes!” and “Equal rights, no compromise!”
“Today it’s like the Soviet era in Russia: Those who seek to hold a peaceful protest are being hunted by the police and the FSB security, like we were some kind of criminals or terrorists.” Tatchell, a member of the U.K. rights group OutRage, told Associated Press Television News.
The last gay parade was in May and coincided with the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. That ended with dozens of arrests. Foreign politicians and pop stars as well as dozens of Russians have been roughed up by police and attacked for participating in the protests.
Asked whether he felt a thaw in official attitudes toward gays, parade organizer Nikolai Alexeyev told The AP after the protests Saturday that there had been no change, and no detentions had been made because the activists had simply given the cops the slip.
“Our military planning was why there were no arrests. We had to organize these parades under strict secrecy, we turned away anyone we didn’t know,” he said, claiming the authorities were attempting to infiltrate the organizers.
Stumped on when to send out your STDs (save-the-date announcements)? Don’t know who should be invited to your rehearsal dinner? Get the answers to all your wedding etiquette questions by submitting your dilemma to firstname.lastname@example.org
My fiancé and I are getting married in a few weeks. I’m Indian, and we wanted Indian clothes for the ceremony. I went to India with my mom this past winter, and we purchased clothes for all our attendants for the ceremony. Do we still need to get our wedding party gifts, especially those who haven’t really been involved much?
I think it’s both beautiful and meaningful that you and your mother traveled to India together and purchased your wedding party’s attire there. What a personal touch to the day. I’m certain your attendants will be very touched that they don’t have to pay for the clothing, too.
However, it doesn’t save you from giving them a small token of your appreciation, because you are giving them something they are required to wear, albeit gorgeous handmade clothes from India.
You don’t have to spend a lot on the wedding party gifts—especially for the people who haven’t been very involved. But these friends and family members are sacrificing their time for you, and etiquette dictates that you give them a thank you gift that doesn’t have anything to do with the wedding (which is why the clothing isn’t enough).
That gift doesn’t have to cost much, if anything. It could be a framed photo of you and/or your fiancé with each person or something you’ve made, such as a small painting, a poem about friendship in your own handwriting on nice paper or a potted plant. The message of the gift is more important than the dollar value, and it should say, “I appreciate you in my life and for standing up for me on my wedding day.”
Kirsten Palladino is the editor in chief of Equally Wed, the nation’s premier same-sex wedding magazine, online at www.equallywed.com. Equally Wed offers gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer couples an extensive, trustworthy and fashionable guide of inspiration, ideas and trends for planning their engagements, weddings and honeymoons, as well as their happily ever after. The photo-rich site is home to Equally Wed’s Local Resources, a veritable marketplace of vetted LGBT-friendly wedding vendors across the United States and abroad. It also offers an interactive social community to talk to other readers about all things wedding, as well as the latest news from the frontlines of the fight for marriage equality. Follow Equally Wed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/equallywed.