Should I Attend My Cousin's Same-Sex Wedding?

By July 18, 2015 41 Comments

Q: I received an invitation to attend the wedding of my gay cousin, Dave, and his partner, Sean, in New York State, where gay marriage has been legalized. (Note: all names in this article have been changed.)

I have a lovely, loving relationship with Dave and a warm friendship with Sean, who has been a virtual family member for years. We see each other at annual Thanksgiving celebrations, a holiday tradition the extended family has observed since 1977. Since the death of my parents a few years ago, this ritual has carried special meaning to me because it keeps me connected to my mother’s family. My husband and I are devout Christians, and the rest of the extended family reflect various other religious affiliations but are not particularly observant. Dave’s branch of the family—including his mom, “Aunt Sue”—all seem to fully accept the idea of gay marriage, perhaps because they love Dave and have grown to love and accept Sean. I’ve already decided to not attend the wedding ceremony because it’s contrary to everything my faith teaches about marriage and sexuality, but should I send a gift?
—Your friend, Laura
My good friend Laura asked my advice even though her gut told her that, for her, recognizing the marriage in any way would be inconsistent. I agreed, not that she really needed my opinion. Laura is one of the most principled people I know. She always does the right thing.
To be clear, Laura never took a stand with members of her family about the wedding. She simply declined the invitation to the marriage ceremony and didn’t acknowledge it with a present.
Fast-forward: The wedding takes place, weeks pass, and Laura figures life has moved on. She looks forward to Thanksgiving because she loves being with her family.
But last week, Aunt Sue called to drop this heartbreaking bomb: Laura and her husband and children are uninvited to Thanksgiving because Laura refused to attend Dave’s wedding. No discussion. No tolerance for Laura’s religiously based decision. No understanding. In fact, when Laura attempted to explain herself, Aunt Sue hung up on her.
Did I mention this is a thirty-five-year family holiday tradition? And that Laura’s parents are gone, leaving only this extended family to connect her to them?
I thought so.
Suffice to say, Laura is devastated.
Some readers might be thinking that Laura is probably one of those judgmental Christians who would snuff out a relationship just to take a stand on gay marriage. But thinking this goes to show you how quickly people jump to the wrong conclusions.
Grief-stricken to imagine that she has lost her extended family, Laura called her twenty-four-year-old son, Scott.
Scott is gay.
This is the conversation she shared with me…
“Scott, you know that I love you unconditionally, right?”
“Yep,” he says reassuringly.
“You know that I love Dave, but I could not attend a wedding ceremony or recognize a marriage in which he stood before God and married another man, right?”
“Yep,” he says understandingly.
“And you know that if you choose to marry another man, I can’t attend that ceremony either, right?”
“Yep,” he says compassionately. “Mom, what’s the matter?”
When she tells Scott why the family has been excluded from Thanksgiving, he reassures her that Aunt Sue is way out of line.
Scott knows that his mother is completely capable of loving him and Dave and Sean—and anyone—unconditionally, but at the same time, of remaining true to her convictions. Rejecting the idea of gay marriage is not the same as rejecting those she loves.
But now, Laura’s aunt is excluding her because of the beliefs and principles that define Laura’s character and inform her behavior.
This tragic family story reflects a twisted notion in our American culture: the idea that love always means total acceptance of another person’s life choices. This is emotional immaturity on a socially grand scale.
As Laura points out, she is capable of loving her gay family members but rejecting gay marriage, in the same way she is capable of loving her heterosexual daughter but would reject her decision to live with a boyfriend and wouldn’t celebrate a cohabiting housewarming party or allow the unmarried couple to sleep together in her home.
Living authentically according to our principles means using those principles as a guide for behavior, while at the same time, loving and accepting unconditionally the people God puts in our lives.
Sadly, by judging Laura, Aunt Sue is hypocritically demonstrating the very intolerance she claims to abhor. Not to mention, she’s spoiling a beautiful Thanksgiving tradition of love for her entire family.
My dear friend’s family story is a teachable moment for us all, for surely we love many people whose behaviors we can’t support or whose opinions we don’t share. This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for the many people God puts in our lives to challenge us with his Son’s most difficult command: “Love one another!”


  • Anayo Njoku says:

    Whatever you honor, you have approved. Sending a gift to a gay couple is like applauding a nude dance in a market square or eating a meal sacrificed to a pagan god. Remember we are Catholics.

    • attending or sent gift to a gay marriage mean that you support,legalize, accept their marriage,don’t mind about what they’ll treat you after,but I tell you to refuse the invitation, keep in mind that if you send a gift or attend that wedding, you will take a step to for supporting same sex marriage,and that’s not conform to our belief,let themselves celebrates whatever events they ‘ll do about gay or lesbians,but we have ought to tell them that’s not the plan of our Lord they’ll have do,thus, we must lead them to the right way,not to solicit them to follow the wrong way by sending gift or something like that

  • Graig says:

    Please If your believe does not permit Gay, do not attend the wedding and never you send any gift because by doing either of these, you have gone contrary to what you believe.

  • Sonia says:

    Sorry but I would not go to a gay wedding it’s like takeing mass in a none Catholic Church drinking the blood of ar lord or the body of ar lord we do not do it

  • Wendy says:

    Why could Laura not send a gift showing her love for her cousin even though they knew she did not agree with gay marriage

    • Amanda says:

      She could send him a gift anytime of the year, her love for him has not changed. But this particular gift would not be whole hearted. Never gift unless it is whole hearted.

  • John Alvarez says:

    Did Jesus just rescued the young adulteress from being stoned so that the Father could really punish her later? The Pharisees and high priests, apart from killing the son of God, were deeply religious too.

    • Missie Landry says:

      Jesus also told her to go and sin no more.

    • Eileen Hedrick says:

      John, Jesus reminded her in Scripture, as he reminds us…Go and sin no more. All have sinned & fall shirt of the glory of God but for the savong grace og our Lord Jesus Christ. Roman 3:23

  • Douglas says:

    Judge Not that you may NOT be judged,,,,,,says the Lord!

    • The judging that the Lord is speaking of is this: Judge not motives. Judge not intentions. Judge not what is in people’s hearts. He did not say we are to park our brains and stop thinking. But, ABSOLUTELY DO judge people’s actions. We are to be wise and prudent.

  • jo says:

    Love the sinner, hate the sin. NO, no gay wedding receptions for me.

  • Maria spano says:

    Love one another ,that wat Jesus said, But He also said ,we should ‘t Love no mother ,no father ,no son ,no daughter ,no husband ,no wife ,more than him ,He is Above all ,we need to Follow Him ,one hundred percent ,not ten percent,

  • Pep says:

    To be gay is a real feeling, it cannot be changed , we cannot just hide these people they too are gods people and he loves all of us. We must embrace all good people as God does and support t them and who they love.

  • Jim Erickson says:

    When my husband and I were married, some family members declined our invitation and even offered to pray for the sin of our marriage, but we never rejected them. That was 14 years ago, and our marriage is still going strong, while other (straight, Catholic) marriages in the family have crumbled, all without condemnation from those who originally condemned us.

  • Yes only God should judge and he has in His Word. He destroyed cities because of people being gay. They are in a class by themselves .

  • Karen says:

    Well I think aunt sue was feeling hurt and did what she thought was right…. Well done aunt sue
    Can’t stand homophobia

    • How can you say Aunt Sue was right?? Yes, she may have been hurt, but where does Jesus EVER say to retaliate by hurting the one who has hurt you?? Aunt Sue, in her lax religious life, gave no understanding for the position her niece was in & totally disregarded God’s Word altogether. The niece loves her cousin & has a deep fondness for his friend, but cannot & should not support a marriage which goes against God’s law & the laws of nature. She didn’t stop loving the person, her cousin. It’s not “homophobia,” it’s following God’s law as He asks all of us to do. This is extreme, but would you attend a Murder Party of a family member who wants to be initiated into a Serial Killer Group? Guests & family members will be invited to the Initiation Ceremony & an expectation of gifts (especially tools of the trade) are a given. Would you go? And if you couldn’t, would you send a gift?

  • Visuca Mazo says:

    Fabulous ‘debate’! – it helps me NO END to clarify my mind and I LOVE the charity and tact with which the object has been treate: -and the subject!- Thanks to all of you. – By the way: through the mercy of God, and for as far back as I can trace my family (Middle Ages, if you please) I have been a Roman Catholic: using ALL THE CHARITY I can muster I try to understand ‘modern times’ but I WILL NOT refer to gay unions as ‘marriages’: our vocabulary is very rich in all parts of the World. Jesus Christ CREATED Marriage and gave it not only the state of Sacrament but also a name: MARRIAGE. If somebody else less than Jesus Christ comes along with some idea of their own and try to use an stablished NAME for their own purposes, so far as I know they are perpetrators of a crime punishable by Law. A new business, creation, enterprise, -call it what you will- should have a new name: not usurp an existing one.

  • Visuca Mazo says:

    Oh dear! My Barrister daughter points out to me that ‘a new law’ has been passed which -legally- perloined the beautiful word MARRIAGE to cover their own purposes: I have also heard people saying that ” the Law is an ass”… Sad to hear it, because a very long ancestry of mine were Lawyers. Still, if ‘the law’ is gradually working itself into the self deserved title of ‘being an ass’, so be it! Amongst many other things Go created us FREE. -Bit that!-

  • Catherine M. J. Mary Evans says:

    Send them a Bible with the Marriage Page completed. Included a note that although you felt prohibited you love them both and so does Jesus. Tell them you understand they are married whether or not it is blessed by the church. Explain to them that Holy Matrimony to you means a pure blessed and holy nest to have children, but you understand that maybe 99% of people don’t measure up when they marry. Have your own get togethers the way you may. Invite whom you want. Let’s see who shows up.

  • Alice Welden says:

    There is a misunderstanding. The primary purpose of Christians is to help people to develop a relationship with God through his Son, Jesus. Love is the magnet that attracts people to the faith. Let the Holy Spirit take care of the conviction of sin in other people’s heart once they submit to the Lord. REmember the law is written in our hearts. So many people are driven away from Christ by fierce right wing politics and “rules.” Love, the most important comandment. Laura should ask her relatives for forgiveness and humbly pray for them without judgment.

  • Rona says:

    Admonish sinners. Instruct the uninstructed. These are 2 of the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy. If Jesus were in Laura’s place, what would He do? Laura performed 2 spiritual works of mercy by boycotting the wedding. She is penalized for that by being uninvited. Jesus was persecuted for doing the right thing too. Important for Laura to continue to pray for and love them all…. Perhaps lacking is a loving letter from Laura assuring them of her love. To make them all understand her God-based beliefs the way her son does.

  • Michael says:

    So Laura takes a stand with regard to this wedding and is not a participant in this “extended family” event. And yet she expresses umbrage over a perceived snub by being uninvited to the traditional Thanksgiving day gathering. She has set the ball in motion by skipping the wedding. She is creating new dynamics in her relationship with these people and this should not be a surprise that they also have chosen to respond, in kind, by not including her. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions and conveying their religious beliefs. But when you engage in socially unacceptable behavior, and treat people in a rude and “un-Christian-like” manner, you are setting yourself up for the kind of rejection that you are dispensing.

  • Therese says:

    How better to extend Christ’s Love then to show love for those we hold dear? I have a gay brother and I know that I could not reject his love and hurt him so deeply as to shun him at his own wedding or whatever you want to call it. He already knows my Faith and we’ve talked about it before. God only hates the act, not those with the feelings they have. God calls on them to bear a heavy burden. To live a chaste life and deny themselves any pleasure of closeness or intimacy. It is their cross to bear if they are Catholic or wish to become so. It is the only way they can live a sin free life. I am chronically ill with Lupus and have my own cross to bear and know the road to a sin free life is never easy for anyone. I must suffer in silence, work hard for my family and push myself as hard as I can. I’m not able to do that all the time, are you? How many of us truly live a sin free life? didn’t Jesus say that those without sin may cast the first stone. I know I’m a sinner, that I’m not perfect. I know that God wants me to love all His beautiful creations regardless of what they believe or feel and I sincerely try. I know that it His job to judge the fates of men and not mine. So therefore I feel free to celebrate any love and happiness my brother finds and if it happens to lead him to sin, I will pray for his soul and offer my suffering for his Salvation. God knows my heart and I am responsible for my sin alone. I did not lead him to this sin, I counseled him on his sin, and he will make his own choices before God. All I can do from here is to love my brother as God commanded me and pray for him when he needs it most. In the times we face today, we all need to listen more and judge less, care more and love more. Offer kindness and help to all who you possibly can. It is by loving example that we show the world what it truly means to be Catholic and a true follower of Christ. Think carefully, did Jesus ever condemn anyone or deny anyone a chance of Redemption?

    • Mary says:

      Good for you. I have two gay nephews. I love them, do not like the sin. Remember what Pope Francis said! God is their judge.

    • Mia says:

      Therese, You took the words right out of my mouth. I have a gay son and he knows I love him. He was raised Catholic and knows his faith. It is not my place to judge him, but only to pray for him.

    • Alan D. says:

      You misunderstand chastity if you believe if it “den(ies) oneself any pleasure of closeness or intimacy.”

  • colormeanew says:

    Definitely not an example of mass societal immaturity….lets be honest with one another a majority of people christians and catholics included do not scruntize other weddings like gay ones.
    Its not like oh will you please let me interview the couple prior to their marriage so I can make sure their beliefs or behaviors do not clash with mine.
    For instance how many go hey uncle bill goes to strip clubs, can’t go to his wedding!
    Or this is Sally’s second marriage, she has been divorced, guess I can’t go…
    Or oh matt and kim make it clear to everyone they’ve been sleeping together consistently, can’t go to that one either! !
    So no not going to a gay wedding doesn’t uphold your beliefs or make you strong in your convictions, if anything it makes you a hypocrite for indulging in your own sins and others as long as the people are straight are the ones who are doing it.

    • Ryan says:

      You seem to completely misunderstand what the article was saying. Let me ask you a question: how do you know whether or not she would go to a divorced individuals wedding? Or one in which she “knew” people were sleeping together? Either way, it’s irrelevant. As long as a marriage has been annulled properly, people can be legitimately remarried. Just because people sleep together before marriage, doesn’t contradict the sacrament of marriage. The whole point of the article is that she simply doesn’t agree with what she feels is a warped version of a sacrament. So, this absolutely shows that she was standing up for convictions. You, like so many other loving proponents of same sex marriage call Laura a hypocrite – but you don’t seem to understand that wasn’t a case of scrutinizing others’ actions. It was a rejection of what she thinks is a false marriage.

  • My daughter went thru this same scenario, but it was a niece (by marriage) who had been married before in the church, got a divorce, and never tried for an annulment,and then married again….yep, hard feelings. Daughter talked with her pastor about it and he gave her the repucussions from not going but embraced her decision to not going also…..And what is most heartbreaking about this, is the other catholic members( the bride’s mother, grandmother, sister,aunts,) all went along with the marriage…….My daughter did not go, her children and husband went, but it was a teaching moment for them….Kinda like. ‘it’s much better to marry wisely and stay with the precepts of the faith……Our society has allowed for the gray area of our culture……I guess we should communicate more when there’s family, and say, I will not go to any wedding that is NOT approved by the
    Church! Then everyone would know your place in any future dilemmas……I have as much as said this to my grandchildren. I hope it guides them in their faith..if they want grandma to go to their wedding.

  • David Cochran says:

    I don’t know what to think of all this… I love my family, and I love my friends. I have 5 gay couples as friends. 4 of them are legally married. I witnessed 2 of those marriages. I don’t think I should ever be penalized for attending and celebrating love to one another. Gay has been around since before Christ. This is the 21st Century.”Love thy neighbor!” As one poster mentioned, Gay partners tend to stay with their spouses longer, and for the record, they do numerous charitable work, more than any denomination. I embrace my friends, I have had cook outs with them, exchanged birthday and Christmas with them. 1 couple, I know even go to a Catholic Church. They may not participate in any of the sacraments, or Eucharist. They were welcomed by the people of the Parish. God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. He has accepted my friends into his sanctuary. I am Catholic, have been Catholic for 51 years. I pray all the time for my family and friends…

    • sonia says:

      I would not go to a gay wedding AR Lord as teached us right from wrong if you do not listen to him you AR not doing his will he dose not make mistakes God bless you

  • Elizabeth says:

    Yes I would go to a gay marriage and give a present and share in with the celebrations.I have been a Catholic all my life and God loves everyone, who are we to judge, because we as humans, don’t think it is right.We need to see we are all one on this planet of ours and live spiritually and love one another as Jesus said.

  • pauld says:

    This debate just drones on pathetically. Make a decision and stick with it. If it comes with unexpected consequences, bad luck. Get on with your life. The whole world does not have to validate your choices. Are we all nine years old where we need mummy’s approval? There is no “Right” There is what you believe to be right, based on your faith values. Even Pilate is credited with saying “And what is truth? Is mine the same as yours? That makes this debate 2000 years old.

  • pauld says:

    This site is of no use if you decline to publish comments because they offer a different viewpoint. It does not foster debate and discussion. It is merely self congratulatory. Back to Mercatornet for me.

  • Katarina says:

    Laura has the right to decline the invitation and not send a gift, but Aunt Sue also has a right to decide not to invite her to Thanksgiving. Laura gets to act in accordance with her faith, but when other people are affected by those actions, she does not get to decide which emotional reactions they should or should not have. If Aunt Sue isn’t happy having Laura around for Thanksgiving, then Laura is not going to be invited.
    Obviously, this is hurtful to Laura, and I have sympathy for that, but I also have sympathy for Dave, Sean, and Sue being hurt by Laura’s decision. I fully support Laura’s choice not to acknowledge the wedding, and I also fully support Aunt Sue’s choice to invite whoever she wants to her Thanksgiving parties.

  • Beth says:

    This is a very difficult issue, with the laws changing in very recent times. People are going to do what they want as far as marriage so Laura should have asked around before she declined the wedding invitation. She could have given them a card and gift. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles and decide whether the fallout is worth it. It sounds like, in this case, it wasn’t worth it to her. Being stubborn and judgmental doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes in life we agree to disagree and go on….

  • Anne says:

    I understand that God do not allow same sex marriage. Laura should have send a card or a gift to show her love to her cousin. We humans can’t judge people. Only God can judge us. Atleast a phone call to David to send her best wishes to him. Family sticks togather no matter what the situation is.

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  • Patti jesso says:

    I am a Catholic. I have gay family members that I love will everything I am. But I will not be attending any of their gay unions or gifting to them either. I am not judging them. God already did that with His many commands to us. As attending or gifting, I feel we are in essence blessing the union we already know is wrong because God has told us so. The judging has already taKen place. I can love them, care for them and pray for them. I already fall short of the Glory of God, I am not willing to add fuel to that fire. Jesud told Mary and in doing so, told us all to go and sin no more.

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