The Washington Post

Carolyn Hax: Gifts for a gay wedding; roommates and housekeeping


Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

My boyfriend and I (both men) are getting married and are setting up our online registries, sending invitations, etc. We recognize that we’re fortunate to live in a state that allows same-sex marriage, so we’ve decided that in lieu of gifts we’d like guests to make a contribution to a gay rights organization.

We both have fairly conservative branches of our family and wonder if we need to offer an alternative. My position is that we don’t; my boyfriend thinks it would be considerate. I’d rather have a guest who doesn’t support gay marriage skip the wedding altogether or not bring a gift than get some bogus coffeemaker and tacit disapproval. Maybe I’m just overanalyzing everything. What do you think?


If I put on my happy hat, then I want to advise you to back off the buyers of the “bogus coffeemaker” (which . . . makes fake coffee?). When a conservative relative who opposes gay marriage actually goes out and buys a kitchen gadget for a gay relative’s wedding, that could just as easily be cast as progress to be encouraged, vs. insufficient applause to be swatted down.

Wearing my justice hat, I can see that incomplete gestures — “I don’t like gay people, except this one I happen to know really well, he’s okay” — are begging to be called out for the hypocrisies they are.

Under my etiquette hat, I recoil (imperceptibly to the naked eye) at the idea of forcing your guests either to pony up for your chosen political cause or stuff it. Are you going to engrave on the invitation: “Donate to this cause as a gift to us, or stay home”?

Fortunately, the sheer impracticality of your idea trumps all. You can’t make the donation a condition of attending your wedding, so don’t. You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) put any gift information in the invitation, so don’t.

What you can do is tell people who inquire about a registry that you’d love people to donate to X in lieu of a gift. If you’d like to expand your bogus-housewares collection, then you can open a small registry as well — which, again, you tell guests about when they ask.

Re: Gay wedding registry:

Some registries have a thing where a percentage of the purchase is donated to a cause, and my (straight) friends chose Lambda Legal as theirs.

Anonymous 2

Killing two birds with one espresso machine, thanks.

Dear Carolyn:

I’m sharing an apartment for three months with my best friend. I love living with her, but have discovered she’s a slob. I’m no neat freak but generally like to wash dishes with some soap, instead of just running water over them so the crumbs go away. I don’t even mind doing the majority of the housework since I’m the one who cares about it, but how do I ask her to either do things “right” or not do them at all? Or do I just lie low and rewash dishes before we have guests over?


It’s just a season, right? Get by and then get out.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Subscribe at



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
In defense of dads
Don’t be ‘that’ sports parent | On Parenting
Why seasonal allergies make you miserable
Play Videos
The most interesting woman you've never heard of
Urban Blight: Philadelphia’s promising fix
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
What you need to know about trans fats
5 tips for using your thermostat
What's fishy about fish oil
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
The drug war had its own board game. Yes, really.
If you oppose Black Lives Matter, you would've abhorred Martin Luther King

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.