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Grey’s Anatomy – Three brides, one groom and a sperm donor

'Grey's Anatomy' pulled off a surprise with not one, but two weddings, as one pair overcame bigotry and another sought the fulfillment of a dream.

- Season 7, Episode 20 - "White Wedding"

The case for legalizing gay marriage was in the forefront of this wedding episode of Grey’s Anatomy that didn’t feel like your typical wedding episode. It definitely didn’t have the same vibe as Cristina and Owen’s wedding nor as Izzie and Alex’s.

The way in which Callie and Arizona’s wedding was juxtaposed with the “surprise” wedding seemed intended to drive home the point that a wedding between two consenting adults of the same gender is no less meaningful than the union of two adults of different genders.

Consider Callie and Arizona’s “I choose you” wedding, officiated with heart and love by Bailey, in spite of the fact that Callie’s mother tried to put the kibosh on the union by telling her daughter that she’s going to hell for being a lesbian and for having an out-of-wedlock baby. (Her words — “Do you know how devastating it is to raise a child, to love a child, and know you won’t see that child in heaven? You are not a bride. And I am not the mother of a bride. This isn’t your wedding.” — were some of the most hurtful sentiments I’ve seen a parent say to his or her offspring on this show, rivaling Meredith Grey’s father’s verbal assaults on her after his wife died.)

But by the time the wedding commenced, Callie and Arizona were beaming and happy, as were the folks in attendance. There was passion and romance and expressions of adoration amidst the gorgeous flowers and ribbons and tulle, after Callie overcame her mother’s cutting language and her own doubts about her wedding which, in her emotionally wounded state, she described as “a couple of girls playing dress up.” (Bailey’s “Your church just hasn’t caught up to God yet” speech was powerful. And it was a nice touch to have Mark “The Sperm Donor” Sloan walk Callie down the aisle when Callie’s father wasn’t there.)

By contrast, consider Meredith and Derek, who’d previously declared that their Post-It Note wedding was sufficient for them. Now that they’ve decided that they want to adopt that impossibly adorable baby girl, the pair decided to make their union legal in order to help their cause in becoming baby Zola’s adoptive parents, given that their attempts to have a biological child have thus far failed.

Meredith and Derek, who gave away their big wedding to the then-dying-from-cancer Izzie a few seasons ago, went to the courthouse and stood in front of a judge who acted as though he was processing a traffic ticket. “Do you have some token you wish to exchange?” the gruff judge said, followed by tight, close-up images of him rubber-stamping official paperwork, roughly tossing two ballpoint pens onto the table and stapling that paperwork together. It felt so antiseptic, even though this was the one “legal” marriage that occurred in this episode.

What did feel moving about Derek and Meredith’s story was how absolutely giddy Derek was about adopting Zola, whom he said he couldn’t “imagine her being with any other parent.” The parallels between the two couples continued as Callie, who was able to have a biological child, danced with her father at her wedding at the same time Derek cuddled and danced with Zola at the hospital.

Something I found interesting was that Derek seemed more doting and excited than Meredith did. Not that Meredith was disinterested in adopting Zola, but when compared to Derek’s ebullience, Meredith didn’t appear as enthusiastic.

Whether the adoption will proceed smoothly is an open question, though I’d like to see something go smoothly for Meredith and Derek, as you just know that Meredith switching Adele’s meds in the clinical trial will come back to haunt her at some point. By the way, Alex’s ham-handed, moralizing, superior attitude toward Meredith — when he didn’t even know exactly what Meredith was doing with that envelope when he saw her — was grating, as was his adolescent sulking and unspoken threats to tell on her. It was one sour note in an otherwise entertaining episode.

Photo Credit: Richard Cartwright/ABC

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