GENDER NEUTRAL WORDING
It was only in 2001 that the Netherlands became the first country to same-sex marriage legal. Within 10 years, 11 countries had recognized same-sex marriage. Finally, On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that gay marriage is a constitutional right, and now all states must allow it; existing bans are invalid.
There are 646,000 same-sex-couple households in the U.S. in 2010, according to the U.S. census. That’s an 80.4% increase since 2000. 115,064 of these U.S. households have children. In the face of such dramatic cultural change, a whole new language is emerging. Revs. Chris and Karen Mohr believe that the easiest way to keep up with these changes is just to ask you: how would the two of you, your family and friends like to be addressed?
There are no rules you must follow. You may prefer gender-neutral terms, or retain more traditional terms. You may want to have a gay or same-sex wedding and call each other husband or wife. You may prefer to have a civil union ceremony and call each other partners. I have performed a wedding for a gay couple where they wanted to be called bride and groom. We can work together on creating a ceremony where everyone’s “title” is recognized and used.
Here are some traditional wedding-related terms and possible new terms to reflect the needs of the LGBTQ community:
- Bride/Groom: Spouse, Partner, Husband, Wife, Mate
- Bridesmaid/groomsman: attendants, bridesman, groomsmaid, bridesperson, groomsperson, best person, person of honor
- Best man/Maid of honor: Best person, Best woman, Best woman, man of honor, Person of honor, attendant of honor
- Wedding: Civil Union, Holy Union, Commitment Ceremony
- Acronyms MOB, MOG, FOB, FOG (mother of the bride/groom; father of the bride/groom): Parents of [Name]
- I Pronounce Man and Wife: I Pronounce you are married
- Vows: I take you as my husband/wife; You are my beloved…
Rainbows and Pink Triangles: Rainbows and pink triangles have important meaning in LGBTQ history. The rainbow is a symbol of liberation and freedom and is widely recognized as a gay symbol. Pink triangles are also a widely recognized gay symbol that has its origins during the Holocaust. Some GLBTQ couples now consider these symbols dated unless they are used in an imaginative way.
Remember, no one can tell you you have to be gender-neutral with each other! You can both be each other’s husbands or wives instead of the more neutral “partner” or “mate.” After all, the gender of the love of your life may be very important to you. How you describe yourselves to each other and the world is completely up to you!
Who marches down the aisle? In some gay or lesbian weddings, one person is in a bride’s dress and the other in a tuxedo or suit. The one in the bride’s dress usually chooses to walk down the aisle. If both are dressed similarly, you can also walk down the aisle together, or even flip a coin! Family escorts: the father or fathers (or mothers or any other family member or friend) can escort their sons or daughters in together or separately.
Is one of you changing your name? Please let us know how you wish to be referred; by either one last name or by a hyphenated version of both of your last names.
We will not call you “bride and groom” or, within contracts, the parties not identified as the “bride” and “groom” individually, unless this is your choice. We use inclusive language such as “name, the couple, the clients, brides and grooms, etc” when appropriate.
We are LGBTQ-friendly; we are happy to serve the same-sex wedding market. We are proud members of coloradogayweddings.com. A gay wedding planner, Mark Paquette operates the site and prescreens the wedding professionals who advertise to ensure they understand gender neutrality and the importance of working with same-sex couples.
As more states pass laws, the wedding market will grow to embrace loving couples everywhere. Patience and education is a requirement, and supporting wedding professionals who value your business is essential.