Love Is Love

The best reason to attend a wedding is the celebration of the union of the bride and groom... or the groom and groom... or the bride and bride.

This is according to a recent poll conducted by SurveyMonkey (shared with me via email) in which respondents were asked to share their opinions about how activities at gay weddings compared with those at straight weddings. In fact, 76 percent of respondents believe it.

The poll revealed that, by and large, people believe that gay weddings are basically the same as straight weddings. Fifty-two percent believe that gay weddings are just as much fun, 73 percent say there is just as much alcohol, 52 percent believe that there is as much dancing, and 54 percent say the food is just as good.

Beth Auld of South Carolina, who recently planned and stood in as mother of the groom at her nephew's wedding, told me that she agrees that gay couples want the same experience as anyone else when they get married. She equates helping her nephew plan his wedding with planning her own.

"We had a lovely catering company. If you walked into the wedding, you would never have known it was any different from any other wedding reception," Auld told me. "The ceremony itself was very traditional. They chose traditional vows. They did what they chose to do as far as how we proceeded in an out. It was in pairs and the wedding party came down in twos."

Auld's nephew and his husband live in Atlanta and belong to a very liberal, gay-friendly Methodist church. The church does not condone gay marriage and instead performs a blessing of a civil ceremony. Joe and Dan, the grooms, went to Iowa to get legally married and then had the big church-blessing ceremony and reception.

"They had a reading that the church typically does on Mother's Day," Auld said. "It was the blessings of different types of families. We have our core family. We have our church family. We have our community family. We have our world family. That was really neat because it spoke to the fact that a family is who you make it. That was really cool."

Morgan Reid, 20, of Florida, who is gay, told me that she agrees that there is little difference between gay and straight weddings. She said that her church does gay weddings as well. There is a ceremony once a year. Couples are in a group where 10 to 20 people walk down the aisle.

"It's fantastic, actually. I kind of love it," she told me. "It's a little bit different, but mostly it's all the same. Everybody is just as happy, just as excited. It's pretty normal."

Reid noted that as a child, she thought about getting married but didn't really have a clear picture.

"When I was a younger, I drew a dress and it was in every color in the world, but I didn't really have a wedding planned out," she said. "When I think of it, it would be pretty normal. I imagine I would follow the tradition that you don't see your bride before the wedding, stuff like that. The pre-marriage prayer would be something I would do."

Both Reid and Auld are encouraged by the recent, landmark Supreme Court rulings ending Prop 8 and a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act and believe that people's views on gay marriage are slowly becoming more positive.

A Pew Research Center survey in May showed that for the first time, more than half (51 percent) of Americans favor allowing gays to marry, and that 72 percent of Americans believe that legal recognition of same-sex marriage is inevitable regardless of their own opinions of gay marriage. This trend is a dramatic change from 2009, when 37 percent of Americans told Pew Research Center that they supported gay marriage. Since 2009, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, bringing the number of states where it is legal (or will be soon) to 12.

"The majority of my [gay] friends want the same thing that everybody wants," Auld said. "They want someone to love them, someone to respect them, someone to spend their life with and for the most part, children."

Reid echos that sentiment.

"I will definitely get married," she said. "I am a committed person, a monogamous person. I want to get married. I want to have children. I love kids. I am a nanny right now because I want to be around children more. There are so many things I want to do. I am so young and I have time, but I want to squeeze it all in there."