I recognize that a number of posters from the US feel quite strongly that they are being lied to when they are not witnessing the exact legal moment of union, and I feel that's a bit... well, strange, because you're never witnessing it. In my home state, yes, the minister or whoever says that he pronounces them husband and wife, but I still have to have my certificate signed (which generally only the two required witnesses see - not the entire congregation) and mail it into the county clerk's office. I don't get any of the benefits of marriage until I receive the notice back from the county that my signed certificate has been received. Yes, it's recognized as of the date that it was signed, but if for whatever reason I don't remember to mail in my certificate, I'm not legally married. So unless you're all taking a trip to the county clerk's office together, you're not witnessing the legal union. You're witnessing a social ceremony. How is that different than if they went to the JP a year ago without you and are having a wedding party now?
I think that some people would say that their having had the legal benefits of marriage for a year is the difference.
In my view, if they have not held themselves out as married for any purposes and are not considered a married couple by the community ("community" in the social, not the government sense), then an earlier legal marriage is
a matter of great
interest -- to the government
, but not
to the community.
TurtleDove says, "it doesn't make sense to lie be coy when they can just say, 'Come join us for a celebration on June 1, 2014 for our marriage that occurred January 1, 2014!'" Well, I think there's a big difference between having people attend your wedding and having them attend a party celebrating your marriage six months ago. I see quite clearly that many posters feel the opposite, but for me, I'd much rather just be invited to a Wedding, that was treated as such, even though there has already been, or will later be, a legal procedure another time, than a "blessing" or "sanctification" or something.
For example, I attended a same-sex wedding a few years ago, where the couple went a couple of months later to another jurisdiction for a City Hall proceeding. It was just called, and treated like, their "wedding." I assume that everyone knew that the State of Ohio wouldn't recognize it, but even if someone didn't, I don't think that they were being dishonest in any way by saying "I do" instead of "I will" and so forth. Those were definitely their vows to each other. That the State of Ohio won't recognize them is the State of Ohio's problem and shouldn't control what it meant to them or to all of us who were there, or, in my opinion, to society.
After all, don't the rules of etiquette require us guests to treat a same-sex marriage ceremony, even in a state where the marriage won't be recognized, the same as an opposite-sex wedding? I never even notice that the officiant doesn't say anything about "the laws of the State of Ohio" (I never notice when they do, either, actually). To say that it can't be called a "wedding" seems not only cruel, it's also pointless. And it's very insulting in the implication that the government recognition is solely what is important about marriage. Yes, gay
couples have struggled and still are for marriage equality -- but I don't think any of them would say that their weddings in non-equality states were "fake" or "lies" because the government wouldn't recognize them as married.
That's why I don't agree with the view that considers even a few-days-apart legal and social event a lie
unless it is not only not concealed, but somehow announced
to the guests. To me, it necessarily enshrines the legal proceeding as the only
meaningful one, and makes the legal formalities way more in the guests' faces than is necessary and distracts from the beauty and fun of the wedding.
Consider whether you feel different if the legal proceeding is after, not before, the "wedding." Which one do you consider the "real" one then? Which, if either, is a "lie" or "just pretend"? Always the second one? Or always the non-government-recognized one? Your answer will tell you whether you are assigning sole meaning to the government's interest over society's and the couple's.
I definitely agree, though: one social event -- large or small or even private; just "social" in the sense that it establishes you as a married couple in your social community -- to a couple, just like one legal event to a couple (if you were legally married in NY, you don't have another legal marriage in OH.)