The New York Times reported in 6/2012 that Geshe Michael Roach married his student Christie McNally in 1998.
The marriage was a closely held secret. In writing, the only way he agreed to answer questions, Mr. Roach, who uses the title “geshe,” a type of doctoral degree in theology in the Buddhist monastic system, said he and Ms. McNally “come from strong Christian backgrounds” and “wanted to do a Christian partnership ritual at the same time we did the Buddhist one, at the beginning of our partnership.” (They were married on April 16, 1998, in Little Compton, R.I.)
…He had described Ms. McNally for a time as his “spiritual partner,” living with him in platonic contemplation. What the other participants did not know is that before she married Mr. Thorson, Ms. McNally had been secretly married to Mr. Roach, in stark violation of the Buddhist tradition to which he belongs.
The Tucson Weekly reported in 9/2012:
It wasn’t until after Thorson’s death [4/2012] that Roach’s students discovered that Roach and McNally had been legally married and divorced, according to Michael Brannan, a former Roach student who lives in Bowie and still volunteers at Diamond Mountain.
From an interview in 2003:
Q: And then the rings. I mean did you guys actually have like a ceremony?
GMR: We’re not married in that way. It’s not … I’m Vajrayogini’s disciple, and I wear her ring.
C: No, no, I’m Vajrayogini’s disciple and I wear her ring. (laughs)
GMR: And I guess it’s only coincidence, right, that the wedding finger is the finger that is sacred to Vajrayogini.
Notes: In a 1997 article, Geshe Michael pointed out an anomaly that he observed on his trip to Mongolia in 1996: “I should say one thing about the monks [in Mongolia]. The Communists forced a lot of monks to get married, and as they came out of Communism , there was a custom of some monks getting married, and that’s now stopped. Bakula Rinpoche [a Tibetan geshe] and other people have worked very hard to teach them proper vinaya [monk’s vows]. They made a rule that those monks who were married before a certain time were allowed to stay married, but they’re not allowed to call themselves monks; they’re not allowed to take formal ordination. They’re allowed to wear robes, but they’re not considered bhikshus [ordained monks] or even getsuls [novice monks]. That’s sort of a compromise they made. So if you go to Mongolia you might run into a monk who talks about his family.” A year later, Geshe Michael got married.
The Dalai Lama said in a 1996 interview, “No, no, no. This is absolutely wrong … Nowadays, unfortunately, we have a new vocabulary — a monk with a wife. This is wrong. A monk is celibate. Those who dress like a monk, with a wife, they are not monks. Of course, it’s the individual’s right. You can always give up a monk’s vows, and then change your dress.”
. Come Together: The Naked Truth When is it permissible for a monk in the Dalai Lama’s tradition to have a female partner?
. Self-delusion: a proof of concept Why did his marriage fail?