SPONSORED CONTENT: Meet activist and officiant Christie Hardwick
Christie Hardwick, the author of The Progressive Wedding Book, has been a wonderful supporter of Catalyst, and we are stoked to share an excerpt of her book, aimed at addressing the needs, concerns, and dreams of the LGBT community in the wake of the federal legalization of same sex marriage.
Christie has been a champion in the movement for equality and social justice for LGBT people for two decades. She started as an advocate for first-time domestic partner benefits in the school district where she was an elected trustee, and she eventually chaired the national board of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), facilitating and coaching top leaders in the movement and leading the executive forum for Out and Equal Workplace Advocates. She helped produce and was featured in the American Leadership Forum’s film I Do, Who Can’t, which engaged Silicon Valley leaders from all sectors in the dialogue uncovering the real issues of marriage equality. A speaker and consultant in leadership, diversity, and inclusion, she has been marrying gay and lesbian couples for years and has worked with them on every part of their plans, their ceremonies, and their decisions.
The Progressive Wedding Book is a culmination of her wisdom, dedicated to couples outside of the traditional wedding world, who do not see themselves represented in other guides to planning. Christie resides in Provincetown, Massachusetts with her wife, Jane Harper, and enjoys their four adult children and one grandson.
They wandered into the jewelry store beckoned by the sparkling display in the window facing the street. The neon sign loudly declared “Ruby's.” “This is my favorite jewelry store, I’ve never bought anything but I love looking”. “Well let’s look.’’ They smiled at each other lingering with the sweetness of new love. Approaching the glass counter they are greeted warmly by the proprietor. “Hello ladies, how are you today?” “We are doing great, just wanted to look around.” The proprietor waved her hand over the case as if to say, it’s all yours! With their hands close together on the glass, little fingers touching, they seemed mesmerized by the jewels below. In silence they studied and the silence lengthened. One of them spoke, barely above a whisper…”those rings are amazing… I have never seen anything like them and they are so intricate, look at the etchings…” The proprietor slides over, gently opening the case... “Those are by Alex Sepkus, he is our most beloved designer, every year his offering is unique and exciting... let me take them out for you…. “Again they smiled at each other, one lifting her brow and a little shrug of the shoulder as if to say, why not? Once the rings were on, it was as if time stood still and the proprietor knew just what to say...”why not keep those on and go sit on the bench outside and talk to each other.” As if in a trance they walked out of the shop and sat on the bench to plan their future….
You are considering getting married. Sometimes this decision is made when the beloved is already in your life, occasionally it is decided that it’s the right time and you are ready and willing when the right person comes along. For many gays and lesbians who have been in committed relationships for years, marriage is a new step on an already long, fulfilling journey. As you think about marriage, you think about the marriages that you have been witness to and perhaps even unfortunately those that have ended in your own life. You think about what you have learned from your own or others experience and how you can take those lessons and be part of creating a wonderful union with a person you love. And whether a new love or one you have celebrated for decades, the wedding is still a defining moment.
Sitting alone as part of a couple or a potential couple, you want to ask yourself, what does marriage mean to me? Generally, it is defined as a public commitment and public declaration of love and intention to spend a lifetime as companions and lovers. But each marriage is unique to the people who are in it. And for every person I have had the privilege to marry, something changes when those vows are taken and have been witnessed — there is a quickening in each of the people. As a couple they have become something more and as individuals they have willingly placed themselves into a container called marriage. The word container may have negative connotations for some, but every relationship contains the people within it because it defines expectations, promises and behavior. You remain free and individual but you are expected to consider someone else as you move down the path of your life. What is in this container called marriage?