Can I Attend a Gay Wedding?

Question: I understand and agree with the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage. However, is it wrong to congratulate people or attend the wedding of a same-sex couple? Wouldn’t it be similar to going to a wedding of a different religion?

While the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is reserved to one man and one woman, this doesn’t preclude Catholics from attending celebrations that aren’t Catholic sacramental weddings. Civil weddings don’t pass muster in the Catholic Church, nor do some unions celebrated in other religious communities. That’s not the point here. Mere presence at an event does not mean approval of everything that is taking place. If you were to take a poll of everyone gathered to celebrate any wedding, you would likely find a wide range of opinions, convictions, and experiences with respect to marriage. Some people in attendance might not even approve of the marriage being celebrated, or of marriage at all! But all the guests would probably express love and friendship for the couple and a desire to support them at an important time in their lives. If someone invites you to a gay wedding or to a wedding of a different religion — especially if that someone is a friend or relative of yours — don’t hesitate to go. You are called first and foremost to love that person and to honor the relationship you have with him or her. There is another time and place to discuss the teaching of the Church with respect to marriage. And if you are concerned about scandal, remember this: There’s a difference between a Catholic priest presiding at a gay wedding and you attending one.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.