The WEDLOCK Project:
The WEDLOCK Project uses autobiographical experiences of the artists TTBaum and Michael Grohall as the creative fuel for this three-part series. The WEDLOCK Project confronts same-sex marriage from all sides of the issue: cultural, political, religious, and personal. WEDLOCK challenges the definition of “marriage” in American culture, the “hetero-normalization” of the gay community, perspectives on “traditional” relationships, and the dispensation of civil rights in a culture that espouses separation of church and state.
The Big Picture:
The Wedlock Project is an interdisciplinary visual and performance art series in three parts: ENGAGEMENT, PDA (Public Displays of Acceptance), and MATRIMONY. Part 1: ENGAGEMENT begins in September with a multi-artist visual and performance art exhibition at SPACE 242 in Boston. Part 2: Public Displays of Acceptance, a series of public art interventions, will take place monthly November 2009 through May 2010. Part 3: MATRIMONY, a multi-day performance event, is a live, public same-sex marriage ceremony.
Together these three parts become the story of two men, two characters conceived from the experiences of the artists. With each piece the narrative moves from the struggle for awareness, to the search for acceptance and visibility, to the creation of new rituals and ceremonies that honor love, tenderness and intimacy.
This narrative is the provocative metaphor that asks: Where do LGBT people fit into society? What does it mean to be equal? How can culturally different people exercise a new freedom and remain true to a radical history?
The State of Marriage:
Marriage is a supreme privilege established by civil and religious law. The profound meaning behind marriage is its ability to equalize people from different ethnicities, races, classes and religions. For this reason, expanding “marriage” to include same-sex relationships has become a cornerstone for civil rights among gay and lesbian couples. In turn, the issue is strongly controversial and threatening to people opposed to including same-sex relationships in “marriage.”
A marriage license, while issued by individual states, confers 1,138 federal protections, rights and responsibilities (few of which can be secured through private contracts). These federal protections are denied to same-sex couples, including those married in states where same-sex marriage is legal. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act excludes gay and lesbian married couples from these protections, declaring that only opposite-sex married couples can access them.*
A compromise has been to offer same-sex couples civil unions. For many LGBT citizens this does not represent equality. Some people think it is just a matter of semantics, and yet, to give one segment of society all the rights granted to the majority but call it something different reinforces inequality. A rose by any other name is no longer a rose.
Though many states in our Union have made progress toward recognizing marriages for same-sex couples, as a nation, the United States still lags behind many other Western countries in legally recognizing gay and lesbian relationships.