Today I'm getting married.

It will be a straight-up, traditional Lutheran wedding service, in a big ELCA church with 300 guests and three ministers. We'll sing, we'll say vows, we'll exchange rings, we'll pray, we'll thank and praise God for all our blessings.

On the advice of a friend, my fiancé and I will walk very slowly, just inching down the aisle to absorb all the love and blessings and smiles and warmth of the people gathered. (I'm pretty sure I'll cry, though I'm going to try not to.)

It's the wedding I always thought I'd have as a kid growing up in small-town North Dakota and later as a student at Concordia in Moorhead, Minn. A very Lutheran wedding.

My college roommate will play the piano; my childhood minister will say the prayers; the wedding quilt my mom has been sewing all summer will be there on display; my friends from camp will sing "Ode to Joy" in German from the balcony.

And our Lutheran pastor will preside. Gerry and I will be joined in marriage with the same vows as joined my parents, and my grandparents, and my great grandparents.

Our pastor will declare: "Kevin and Gerry, by their promises before God and in the presence of this assembly, have joined themselves to one another in marriage. Those whom God has joined together let no one separate." And we will all say "amen."

This is our religion. Today, Gerry and I and our pastor, our family ministers and all those gathered are practicing our religion. We are expressing our religious freedom. Exercising our liberty.

I understand that there are many who disagree with our belief that today, Gerry and I, in the eyes of God and our church, are getting married. The young woman at the State Fair, for example, who, seeing our clasped hands, spat her taunt -- "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" -- certainly disagrees.

As does Archbishop John Nienstedt, whose Catholicism leaves no room for two men to live in a committed, loving family relationship. Many from my own faith aren't completely comfortable with the words our mainstream Lutheran pastor will utter today.

And there are many more, religious and nonreligious, who simply don't care.

We don't seek to change your mind. We don't want to convert you. We're not looking for love and blessings and smiles and warmth on our wedding day from those of you who don't agree with our religious beliefs. We don't ask for your support.

Instead, we're asking for respect and dignity. We want the same rights as others receive to live out our beliefs. We want to exercise our religious liberty and have our beliefs respected by civil, secular government rules.

Minnesota's culture, for better or worse, is deeply rooted in Lutheranism. Those of us who have sat through many Lutheran sermons know well some of the main ideas, including that grace is infinitely more powerful than what we say, do or believe.

Grace is at the foundation of Minnesotans' compassion and tolerance. Grace lets Minnesotans live and let live.

In November, all Minnesotans get the chance to decide whether the state will respect Gerry, me, our pastor and our gathered guests who today are exercising our religious freedom and liberty.

Today we declare: "Those whom God has joined together let no one separate."

In November, let the people say "amen."


Kevin Reuther lives in Minneapolis.