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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

To the wedding of one of the lawyers we work with over the weekend; weddings always put me in a thoughtful mood. This was the second time I have been in the position of attending a wedding as someone's employer. It is flattering to be well enough liked as an employer to be invited to such an event. Although I think of V. as someone who is close in age to me, he is, of course, close in age to the me of 20 years ago, and we are closer in age to the parents of the lovely couple.

Weddings seem to occur in one's life in cycles. A, growing up with a lot of older cousins, attended many weddings as a child. We were the oldest of the cousins in our family, so the only weddings I saw growing up were ones where I was an alter boy. Weddings tipped better than funerals, so they typically went to the senior acolytes-- I didn't get many. The first wedding I recall attending as a guest was that of my Uncle Chet and Aunt Miriam. We saw a rash of weddings in the period immediately following law school-- A and I were among the first in that cohort, and then, of course, there was a stretch of cousins and siblings, along with a stretch of second marriages, which, for some reason, I particularly like. The triumph of hope over experience Samuel Johnson said, but as an American I reserve my right to celebrate optimism. Now we are into employees, soon enough it will be our children and the children of our friends.

The whole concept of marriage has been much batted about in recent months-- the most private of relationships, celebrated in a public way among one's closest friends and with family has become a political issue, which, as we stood in the church Saturday, impressed me as entirely the wrong lens through which to view the commitment which weddings symbolize. Sunday's Times had an announcement about the wedding of the son of one of our local judges-- he is gay, so the ceremony uniting the two partners was in Ontario. "Nice" is a stupid word, and not the word I want to use-- I'm glad that we have advanced as a culture to the point where a New York State Supreme Court Judge can celebrate the fact that his child has found happiness with another person in the pages of the New York Times, instead of having the possibility that his child might be gay whispered about, instead of having such a thing eat at him as a terrible secret. I wish it was even less worth of comment, but that is a way off, I suppose. It is hard to say how fast social change takes place-- certainly it moves at a pace that is slow enough to make the chance at happiness a political issue, instead of something you wish for the people you care about.

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