Monday, November 10, 2014

Open Letter to the Married Gay Man Whose Husband has been Snubbed by his Brother & Fiancée

I was on GCN this weekend and ran across a new discussion thread. A guy named Ian got married to another guy a few months ago. Most of his family was at the wedding -- except for his brother. His brother and his brother's fiancée were invited, but they do not believe in same-sex marriage and decided to stay home instead. Ian's brother still has not met his husband. They assume that eventually they will meet at some hypothetical family event "someday in the future." But really, it's clear that he has no interest in Ian's husband.

In January, Ian's brother and fiancée are getting married. Ian was invited to the wedding. His husband was not. Ian's brother and fiancée believe that the husband's presence will create too much of a distraction for her family and for the rest of the wedding guests. They told Ian that "my husband's presence will cause an issue for people and take the focus off of their marriage and turn it into discussions of Christian ethics and homosexuality."

Anyway, Ian and his husband are hurt by the snub. Ian offered to come to the wedding itself with his husband, but skip the party and reception. Ian's brother does not want the husband there are all.

Ian's noted three options that are available to him and asked for input from other GCNers:
I'm left with some options:
- Do as previously planned - attend the wedding with my husband but skip the reception. This would frustrate my brother, stress out the bride, but show that I'm committed to being at family events and also demonstrate my commitment to being at them with my husband.

- Skip the wedding completely. This would probably placate my brother and his fiancee, but it would mean missing a significant event in my family and could send a message that I've stooped to his level by just not attending a family event when I don't agree with everything.

- Attend the wedding alone. This would allow me to support my brother, show interest in his relationship with his future wife, and be with my family. However, it disrespects my husband because I am attending a family event he is excluded from.
Most people told Ian that they would stay home. I have some other advice.

Personally, I think there is a lot of projecting going on with Ian's brother about how his in-laws and others will perceive his brother amongst this crowd of strangers. I mean, most weddings are pretty passive events for guests who are not part of the wedding party. They come in wearing crazy hats. They sit in the pews. They dab their eyes during the mushy parts. And then they toss rice (or whatever environmentally neutral bits of food that people toss instead these days) and the bride and groom. They don't usually initiate ethical debates about gay people sitting in church buildings.

It's sad that Ian's brother believes that there would be more scandal caused by the husband's presences as opposed to the absence of the groom's own brother. It says something about their fraternal relationship -- as in, they really don't have much of a relationship at all. I mean, he would rather impress his friends and in-laws than worry about how his choices affect his own family.

Personally, if I were Ian, I would go alone to the wedding. Like it or not, Ian's husband was not invited to the wedding. In fact, he was specifically not invited to the wedding. This wasn't a passive snub.

It is their wedding. It is their big day. They get to decide who gets invited and who doesn't. Bringing the husband -- after Ian's brother and future sister-in-law specifically asked him not to come -- will not work out for Ian in the long run. There are days to make a strong stand about Ian's marriage. This wedding is not one of those days.

But here's the rest of my advice. I would attend the wedding alone. But I would leave right away following the ceremony. And I would stay away from the reception.

Additionally, I would not waste a lot of money on wedding gifts for this brother. Like, I would get them a set of $5 measuring cups or something like that. It is an obvious message to the bride and groom without being too in your face -- and the joy of it is that it's still probably more than they gave Ian and his husband for their own wedding!

If Ian really wants to make a statement about the wedding snub, I suggest that he leave a really nice gift from Ian's husband. And I would attach a beautiful card that says something like, "Wish I were there on your special day, Ian's husband." That would give them something to discuss and debate when his brother, his bride and her family are opening wedding presents together!

I also advised Ian that I would leave it up to his brother to figure out eventually that he needs to make things right between the two of them. It can't all be on Ian. Sometimes, a bit of cold shoulder goes a long way towards forcing the other party to try to make amends or for both parties to realize that they get along fine without being in each other's lives.

So that was my advice. What do you all think?


Jimmy Kenny said...

I had exact same thing happen to a gay friend in Ireland about 30 years ago. His bro wouldn't invite his partner of many years to his wedding, and he decided that he wouldn't attend without him. In the end, his mam resolved this by simply stating that she wouldn't attend unless all of her sons were in attendance. BTW, it wasn't because the mam was an advocate for gay rights; actually, she was quite the opposite! It was because of the embarrassment She would face if all of her children were not there!

Donny Jacobs said...


I think one chance is all Ian should give his brother when it comes to attending events without his spouse. If he comes with another "you-and-you-alone" invitation, I'd have him respond "no dice". What's more, I would insist on no more invitations of that kind. They are an insult to both husbands.