As my initial entry I thought it completely appropriate to to share my thoughts on “marriage”...or, as I prefer, the union of two people in love.
“Marriage” is defined as:
mar·riage (noun)
mar·riage [ márrij ](mar·riages)
1. legal relationship between spouses
2. specific marriage relationship
3. joining in wedlock
marriage ceremony
union of two things

First and foremost, I am wholeheartedly committed to performing the union of loving individuals, whether it be through our current legal system, or simply as a public recognition of their love and commitment. Now more than ever I feel that public acknowledgement of love and commitment is vastly important and have always felt, overwhelmingly, that joining individuals in life is a beautiful occasion and one in which I take great pleasure in participating.

I strongly feel, though, that ALL “marriage” unions should be separated into two steps: First, the state (meaning our entire country) should provide a legal document recognizing the union between two individuals. Period. A “Civil Union,” as it were. Second, every church, religion, spiritual organization, etc. should have the right to recognize or deny unions, as set forth in their particular tenets, and solemnize those unions of which they recognize.

I am constantly perplexed by the myriad reasons promoted as to why two loving people should not be “married.” Many say it is because of tradition, and yet our “traditions” regarding “marriage” have obviously evolved (for the better) over the millennia. And, let’s be frank, many, many things about “traditional marriage” allowed for gross physical and mental abuse by the “husband,” who, originally, was granted his wife as property. Nothing more than chattel. In fact, the “traditional” ceremony, for hundreds of years, included a version of “You are now pronounced MAN and WIFE;” not “Husband and Wife,” “Man and Woman,” or “god” forbid, “Partners.” As performed for centuries, equality in a “marriage” was not even considered an issue in this, or most other countries. And in most societies, whether we like to admit it or not, the attitude, or at least perception of ownership, in our still patriarchal world, continues to persist.

In my humble opinion, the term “marriage” (as far as legally joining two people) has always represented something less than anything to which I would ever want to prescribe. The rituals and ordinances of both legal and faith-based “marriages” were originated in the minds of men who, through muscle (not mental) posturing, declared themselves to be superior in every way; beings to be revered and feared.

As the world has evolved, and traditional perceptions of “marriage” have been challenged, our patriarchal world has panicked and assaulted the very definition of what “marriage” is; which is simply the “legal relationship between spouses.”

Everyone knows that, with absolutely no religious or legal intervention, millions of people throughout the history of the world have chosen to live in loving, committed relationships without being “married.” I personally know hundreds of loving couples who have lived long, loving, committed lives without the benefit of a “marriage” certificate. A piece of paper does not make for a successful “marriage.” Today a “marriage” ceremony is still a public acknowledgement of a couple’s love and commitment to one another, which is great. But on a completely practical level, a “marriage” certificate is simply the legal contract which binds and entitles each of the couple to real property. A contract.

Religion should have no authority or sway over the legal rights of individuals to join together. Moreover, in a day when “traditional marriage” has plummeted and divorce is at an all-time high, I am continually mystified as to why anyone (or any organization) would choose to deny any loving person who still wants to legally bind themselves to another human being.

Love is a wonderful and complicated thing. It is often times elusive. It is, more often, staring us in the face and we choose to ignore it’s advances. Once found, once recognized, is ever-evolving. Love is a journey; never stopping, never still, sometimes frustrating, always fascinating and, with an open heart, the most satisfying of all journeys.

In performing Unions, Weddings or Commitment Ceremonies, I celebrate the here and now of love, as well as the undeniable, wonderful and exciting evolution the journey of love takes with every rising sun.

Kent Harrison Hayes