Gretcher A. Stiers
From This Day Forward:
Commitment, Marriage, and Family
in Lesbian and Gay Relationships
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ76.3.U5S76 1999)
This book is based on interviews with stable lesbian and gay couples.
It presents realistic portraits of how they live
and how they understand their commitment.
Many living-together couples consider themselves married,
especially if they have had a commitment ceremony.
A large part of this book is devoted to exploring
the pros and cons of a marriage-like ceremony for lesbian and gay couples.
Some couples readily embrace the complex traditions of 'getting married',
but other reject marriage because it reminds them too much
of the traditions and obligations of heterosexual marriage.
(Some have been married to other-sex partners in the past.)
Most of the couples expected their relationships to last until death,
but as a matter of fact, gay and lesbian marriages
last about as long as heterosexual marriages.
In general, the couples interviewed
had conventional views about love and commitment
--expectations very similar to heterosexual couples.
One major purpose of this book is to normalize same-sex relationships.
These couples seem no different from heterosexual couples.
However, one difference is that the ceremony of making a public commitment
usually takes place after the relationship has lasted a few years.
This is because so many gay and lesbian relationships do not last long.
But after the couple has been together for say 10 years,
they often find it meaningful to mark that anniversary with a ceremony,
which they call "holy union", "commitment ceremony", or "recommitment ceremony".
When the couple is alienated from their families-of-origin
because of their sexual orientation,
the ceremony includes only other members of the gay and lesbian community.
But increasingly straight people (family and friends) are invited.
In some cases, the commitment ceremony finally convinced parents
that their children were not going to change into heterosexuals.
Everyone who reads this book
will be more favorably disposed toward same-sex marriage.
The people are real individuals,
with their own views of how to structure their relationships.
Some use the marriage-model and others do not.
If you would like to read other books about same-sex couples,
search the Internet for the following expression:
"SAME-SEX MARRIAGE--FIRST BOOKS".