Dans l’épisode des Simpsons diffusé hier soir aux Etats-Unis, le maire de Sprindfield décide de légaliser le mariage des couples du mêm sexe pour développer le tourisme dans sa bonne ville (voir springfieldisforgayloversofmarriage.com). Le révérend Lovejoy, un pasteur évangélique, refuse de célébrer l’union des couples qui viennent à Springfield, et Homer se fait donc ordonner sur internet (grâce à la e-Piscopal Church online) de manière à pouvoir célébrer, au nom du pouvoir civil, des mariages.
Le New York Times y consacre un article.
Cet épisode des Simpsons me rappelle l’un des entretiens les plus amusants que j’ai réalisés au cours de ma thèse et dont voici un extrait, fort long, mais qui n’a pas d’intérêt s’il est coupé.
In 1991, I was approached by a friend, a woman, who wanted to marry a man, who was a secular person, and she wanted me to perform the ceremony for her.
In the U.S., you have the choice between a judge, a justice of the peace or a minister of a church. She is not religious, she didn’t know any justice of the peace, and she didn’t know any judges. And in her mind, she knew me, she loved me and we were very close, and she wanted someone she was close to, to perform the ceremony. So we started to research how would we make that happen. In some states, it’s very easy to become a justice of the peace, and in Vermont, it’s an elected office. You need to be nominated by a party, you have to affiliate yourself with a party, you need to get on the ballot, and then you need to get elected.
So that was to out of bound, too long. So we researched other avenues and what we found is that Vermont is one of the many states in the U.S. that don’t clearly define what a minister is, in their state statutes. Through word of mouth we learned that someone we both knew has been asked to do the same for his own brother. He had found an ad in the back of a magazine, I think it was Rolling Stone magazine, and you know, for five dollars, you get a certificate that says you were ordained.
From that we did some asking around. I think we made one call to the State’s Attorney General, just to inquire : « Is this true ? » « Yes, it’s valid. » So I sent them my five dollars and was ordained. My ordination was only good for a short time. You had to make an « offering » to the church to get re-ordained. But my intention was entirely to do it only for this one person.
In talking about it as we were planning it, other people heard that I was doing this… I don’t know why people choose me ! Maybe they think I’m particularly spiritual. They still want something… always, secular people, they still seem to crave something.
So I was asked by another couple… before I could even perform the one I was trying to perform.
In that first year, I performed two [marriages].
At that point, I started to get a reputation as someone who could stand up in front of a crowd and make people feel comfortable, put people at ease, you know. At that point, my reputation started to grow.
After the first two, a gay couple that are friend of mine – I’m gay – decided they were gonna have a commitment ceremony. There were no legal recognition at that time, it was in 1994, I think. They say : « Would you be that person for us, would you represent… even if we know it’s not legally binding… » And I said : « Sure ».
So, after that one, I think, over the years, there would have been six other opposite sex unions and… in december of 2000, the couple that I’ve married… performed a ceremony for them in 1994, still friends of mine, came to my home one day and said « We want to have a civil union ».
We were six of us, sitting around the table. I signed their certificate, we drank champagne, and that’s how you found me, I mean, that’s the only civil union that I’ve done.
I’ve also done one baptism… (laugh) but it doesn’t mean anything either. But it shows you how, I think, the way the other ones came to me… I try to make it always for personal friends of mine but even that one I did for someone I didn’t know that well because they had been at one of the weddings that I performed, and so they just came to me. And, again, these were all secular people for whom affiliation with a religious entity was not important, and for whom… they didn’t have any relationship with any of the state people… so they had relationship with me or they liked what they saw and so they chose me.
The first church, when my « ordination » lapsed… in quotes, my « ordination »… I couldn’t find them again… I had only the address and they were gone… I made the joke that perhaps they had been arrested… I didn’t know, you know. They disappeared, I couldn’t find them again. [But] because people were asking me, I had to get ordained again, and I did find another one, again in Rolling Stone, a different church, that’s called « The American Christian Fellowship Church » and that one was, for a small donation… offering… [whatever] the word they use, a lifetime [ordination], and that is the certificate that I have.
I guess I’m a lifetime ordained minister, or reverend. […]
I have a book with everything that I have read at different ceremonies. [I keep a book, because] it means something to me that I married people. What does it mean? Hard to say! I like that people I know, and some of whom I love… that I’m important enough to them they chose me to play this ceremony. And I like that two people, whatever their partnership is, care enough about each other to get together. That’s one of the reasons actually why I don’t like to perform this for people I don’t know, because I like to know that the couple is serious, you know, and sincere, and committed, and understand what they’re going into. I need to have some kind of relationship with the people, on a friendly level.
That couple, a secular couple, that asked me to… I call it a baptism, but, of course, it’s not, it was a “naming ceremony”. They wanted to name their infant and they had been to three of the weddings. It’s a small circle of friends. And they said “We’re not going to baptize our infant in a church, we’re just gonna have our family together, and we would love if you just come and…”
Actually, they asked me to create their ceremony! Which I did. It was really pagan, actually. It involved the four points of the compass, and hearth, water, wind and fire, all the four elements. If anything it was fairly celtic, or… old pagan religion.
(source : Entretien avec “David Higgins” réalisé dans le Vermont en mai 2002, retranscrit dans ma thèse, “Que Dieu vous bénisse!” Le mariage religieux des couples du même sexe aux Etats-Unis, EHESS, 2003, pp.319-322.)