Personal narratives explore the issue of marriage for lesbian and gay couples in America

Lesbian And Gay Marriage

Private Commitments, Public Ceremonies

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edited by Suzanne Sherman

"...provides a subtle and complex documentation of the many things marriage means in our society— couples who do not stand to benefit from the privileges it confers to heterosexuals."
The Women's Review of Books

This collection of personal narratives explores the hotly debated issue of same-sex marriages. The twenty-four interviews with lesbians and gays who have celebrated wedding ceremonies as well as couples who remain unmarried or choose not to marry reveal the qualities that bind people in lifetime partnerships as well as the everyday tensions of committed relationships. Most of the interviews are accompanied by personal snapshots. The couples come from many regions of the United States and from diverse ethnic and class backgrounds. They include such prominent activists as Harry Hay, Phyllis Lyon, and Del Martin.

These intimately described relationships are as new as three years and as enduring as thirty-eight. Each dialogue grapples with the reactions of family and friends to the couple's commitment and the everyday struggles of their own relationship. The interviews are preceded by essays by Thomas Stoddard and Paula Ettelbrick that offer opposing viewpoints on marriage. The book closes with a section of personal observations by ceremony officiators from a variety of religions—from Catholic priests to a Wiccan high priestess—and a resource directory.

Although viewed by some lesbians and gays as an "abhorrent ritual" of patriarchy and by others as a "celebration of commitment," marriage is more than a relationship sanctioned by law; it is the centerpiece of the social structure and the core of the traditional notion of family.

Why, then, are loving couples who jointly own homes faced with the cruel enigma that "legally, we are strangers"?



Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).



"A series of clear and intimate portraits of gay and lesbian couples.... Lesbian and Gay Marriage makes a timely contribution.... It presents a true picture of the nature of family and the diversity which is the heart of America.
Lambda Book Report




Part I: The Marriage Debate
1. Why Gay People Should Seek the Right to Marry – Thomas B. Stoddard
2. Since When is Marriage a Path to Liberation? &#$150 Paula L. Ettelbrick

Part II: Private Commitments
3. Patt Denning and Kathie Cinnater
4. Dennis W. Weber and Kelvin Ray Beliele
5. Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin
6. Tede Matthews and Chuck Barragan
7. Reid and John
8. Gil Manaoang and Juan Lombard
9. Stevie Bryant and Demian
10. Margrete and Robin
11. Harry Hay and John Burnside

Part III: Public Ceremonies
12. Brian Binder and David Craig
13. Nina Kaiser, Nora Klimist, and Kellen Kaiser-Klimist
14. Thomas F. Coleman and Michael A. Vasquez
15. Ed Swaya and Randy Fitzgerald
16. Mollie and Morgan Sidhe
17. Terry Tibbetts and Don Wright
18. Diane Bernstein and Andrea Yates
19. Alvin Hukins and Darryl Fenley
20. Ruth Mahaney and Nina Jo Smith
21. Demetri Williams and Dwain Ferguson
22. Frances Fuchs and Gayle Remick
23. Ted Gaiser and Chuck Hornberger
24. Pat and Karen Norman
25. Todd and Jonathan Barr-Sawyer
26. Pik Work and Mary Provost

Part IV: Ceremony Officiators
27. Father Robert L. Arpin
28. Father James Mallon
29. The Reverend Dee Dale
30. The Reverend Jeanne MacKenzie
31. Rabbi Denise L. Eger
32. The Reverend Jim Lowder
33. Wiccen High Priestess Zsuzsanna Budapest

Resource Directory


About the Author(s)

Suzanne Sherman is an editor, freelance writer, and creative writing instructor. She lives in the Bay Area with her partner. No—she hasn't been married.

Subject Categories

Sexuality Studies/Sexual Identity



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