Gretchen A. Stiers “From This Day Forward”: Main Theme and Key Ideas
The text was written by Gretchen A. Stiers in the book titled From This Day Forward: Commitment, Marriage, and Family in Lesbian and Gay Relationships, and the topic claim is focused on the importance of the institution of marriage and its ceremonial elements for same-sex couples. The article is developed and organized in a manner where motivations and underlying reasons are outlined before revealing the functional purpose of marriage for gay men and lesbians. Gretchen A. Stiers is an assistant professor at West Virginia University, whose specialty lies in the field of sociology and anthropology, and the main purpose of the writing is to understand why gay men and lesbians choose to marry. The intended audience involves the general public, who is interested in becoming more educated on the intricacies of the gay community and their relationship with the institution of marriage.
Chapter 20 begins with an analysis of same-sex ceremonies in regards to weddings. It is stated that although norms and traditions are constantly changing in the United States, marriage still remains a major rite of passage for couples seeking to establish a family (Stiers, 1998, p. 262). The main reason why ceremonies are part of many same-sex marriages is to publicly announce, celebrate, and signify a couple’s partnered status (Stiers, 1998, p. 263). In the case of motivations for having a same-sex ceremony, it should be noted that such ceremonial events are conducted to either celebrate already established relationships or newly formed ones (Stiers, 1998, p. 264). For example, it is stated that “although they cannot marry legally, lesbians and gay men are aware of the purposes weddings serve in the larger community” (Stiers, 1998, p. 264). In other words, the ceremonies are acts of celebration and recognition to show the couple’s commitment as well as seek validation from the public.
In the case of heterosexual weddings, there are differential motivations behind such events. Firstly, lesbians and gay men want a wedding is to present the union to their families and friends. Secondly, weddings are necessary to gain not only recognition but also support from other people. For example, it is stated that “the desire for such support from friends and family not only stemmed from wanting affirmation as a “couple” but also acceptance as a “lesbian” or “gay” couple” (Stiers, 1998, p. 266). Thirdly, weddings are a form of a statement in regard to lesbian and gay couples in general. Fourthly, such ceremonies usually celebrate already established relationships, which means it is a couple’s way to further their commitments.
When discussing same-sex marriages, weddings, and ceremonies, it is important to understand that such events serve a number of functional purposes. The two main ones are acts of accommodation and acts of resistance. In the case of the former, same-sex ceremonies and weddings signify and communicate that there is no significant difference between same-sex and heterosexual marriage celebrations. In this way, same-sex couples are attempting to fit in the society they live in, where they seek acceptance and recognition by highlighting and focusing on similarities rather than differences (Stiers, 1998, p. 270). It should also be noted that same-sex ceremonies are also an act of resistance designed to change the norms about the institution of marriage in order for it to be more inclusive. Same-sex ceremonies normalize such relationships and shift the social consciousness about homosexuality.
Stiers, G. A. (1998). From this day forward: Commitment, marriage, and family in lesbian and gay relationships. Palgrave Macmillan.