“Mr. Manners” Steven Petrow, a Chapel Hill resident and The New York Times‘ “Civil Behavior” columnist, this week addressed a question from a fellow North Carolinian frustrated by the inability for he and his partner to marry. In addition, the North Carolina man has been invited to his niece’s wedding.
“My partner and I live in North Carolina, a state whose constitution now prohibits same-sex marriage,” the North Carolina man writes to Petrow. “We have been together for 25 years and have been to lots of weddings in that time. I used not to mind so much going to other people’s weddings even though we couldn’t make our own union legal. But now I do. I’ve had enough. I’m tired of being polite. In fact, I would like to announce to all friends and family that I will not be attending anyone’s wedding until I attend my own. Do I have your permission to skip my niece’s wedding?”
Petrow’s response, delicately balanced, might surprise you.
“All that being said, you need to choose the high road and go to your niece’s wedding,” Petrow responds. “I’ve always believed that family trumps politics, especially in matters like this. Assuming your niece didn’t actively campaign in favor of Amendment One, don’t make her pay the price for it. I’m guessing you’ve celebrated a lifetime of milestones with this young lady, all as an expression of your love and support for her. How will she feel about your absence on this important day? And how will you feel in 5, 10, or 15 years about having boycotted it?”
Petrow adds, “[T]his doesn’t mean you need be a rollover kitty,” and goes on to suggest several ways the North Carolina man can express his feelings to his niece: writing a letter to her, donating to groups like Freedom to Marry in her and her soon-to-be husband’s name and asking his niece to make a public statement in support of her uncle and his right to marry.