I have had the honour to perform a few marriages. The question was recently asked about whether we had a policy about gay marriage. I admit it struck me as a bit odd. The Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia has always had a very simple policy when it comes towards it membership. We are a universalist group. If you are called to the worship of our gods, and you have been a good and frithful member of our community, we do not care where you can trace your line of descent, nor do we care who it is that you love. We do care rather a lot about oaths though.
We don’t like oaths to be sworn lightly upon our oath ring, for that touches upon the luck of us all, and a broken oath is a thing that has real and sacral consequences, this we accept. We do not make our decisions about whether or not we will marry you based on anything except your commitment to each other. To stand before the community, to make your offering for your loves hand, and to have them accept it, this is a worthy thing. To stand before your community, your kin of blood and oath both, and swear your love and troth to each other, this is a worthy thing. For me to call the blessing of the gods and administer the oaths you exchange is something I take a profound and reverent joy in.
I have so far only married heterosexual couples, the reason is simple, I have only been asked to perform a small number of marriages for our community so far, and those who have asked have been heterosexual. The next couple could be the same, or could be gay or lesbian, and again, the only questions that I will have are about the couples devotion to each other, and such specific questions about their spiritual practice so that the marriage rites performed will be anchored as firmly in their personal relationship with the gods and ancestors as in our own ritual framework. A marriage has as much magic as you, the couple making it, put into it every day. That is what the plighting of troth is, the promise that you will jointly labour to make this marriage a real thing, a true thing; in fact the one true thing you both can depend on in an ever-changing, and frequently hostile, world. That being said, what you make together is made stronger by the ritual as it is by the presence of your community as witness. The details of that are my job, the heavy lifting, and the rewards of the marriage itself, are yours.
We are a Troth KAP Kindred now, and the question will no doubt arise about whether the Troth stands with us in our commitment to marriage for all of our members. In fact, the Troth Clergy program addressed this issue quite directly, making it clear that for Troth clergy, there is no question of gay marriage, or straight marriage, there is only marriage.
“The Troth’s position has always been to accept gay members, and furthermore to hallow bonds between same-sex couples, considering them no less valid than marital bonds between heterosexual couples. Troth – ordained godfolk are expected to be willing to conduct ceremonies for both same-sex and different – sex couples (with certain limitations discussed in the Clergy manual).”
p273-277 in Our Troth vol. 2
Troth Publications 2007
The Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia springs from a land in which gay marriage is legal, and from a thew that judges people by their words and their deeds, not by the labels that the outer-garth society might apply to them. Our community judges you by what you show us. It is an honour and a pleasure to stand in the sight of the community, to call the wights of the lands and waters, to call the sacred ancestors, and to call the holy gods themselves to witness the binding of two people who have chosen to pledge their love and their troth to each other.
I have known a number of Heathen Freehold godfolk and Troth godfolk, none of whom I could ever see refusing this sacred duty on grounds of the gender of the parties involved. To serve your community as priest is not something that earns us any money, rather the cost of fulfilling the obligations in terms of both time and resources is quite expensive for us. This is a calling that we find rewarding because of the honour of the service, the pure and unquestionable joy of joining two worthy folk in the sight of their gods and community.
It really shouldn’t need to be said, that we are here for those who need us, reguardless of such petty concerns as gender or sexual orientation. I shouldn’t need to be said, but in a world with so much casual ugliness, in which so many times peoples trust has been betrayed by those who owed them better duty, perhaps it is time it be spoken anyway.
The Heathen Freehold respects, and holds most holy, the tradition of marriage that binds a couple in love and in troth, together in the sight of the gods and of their community. The Heathen Freehold does not recognize straight marriage or gay marriage, it recognizes only marriage.
Love is rare and precious. Troth is a commitment that gives back rather more than the sum of what both of you put in. There is magic in the rings exchanged at the time of the wedding; exactly as much magic as the two so joined put into them every day of their lives. This truth transcends gender, orientation, race, and yes, even religious creed. There is only one marriage, and that is the one we perform.