Since the political IS personal (and the personal IS political), I wanted to try and make the whole No on Prop 8 movement a bit more concrete for anyone who STILL thinks we're whining about our "rights" and we should be quiet at the back of the bus.
It must have been about five years ago. The flush of new love, the feeling in our hearts that this was The One, a good bottle of Frei Brothers Cabernet and our cats curled up in our laps, and the words slipped out:
"Will you marry me if it becomes legal?"
"How about the civil union/domestic partnership thing in the meantime?"
We didn't get around to the second option. Life got in the way (ill parents, sister dying of cancer, work, friends' drama). And then, the California Supreme Court decided. Same-sex marriage was already a constitutionally protected right, and the laws preventing us from marrying were vacated. Within five minutes of the story hitting Yahoo!, I called my partner and proposed again. And the answer was Yes!
And the clock was ticking.
All of a sudden, we got wrapped up in wedding planning. Something we never even thought was a possibility.
Who would be invite? Family, closest friends. Well, we tried to keep it below 20. It ended up at about 50.
Where? On the beach. At home in Long Beach. Reception at my parents-in-law's house. We got a Letter of Understanding (and congratulatory letter) from the City of Long Beach permitting the use of the beach for a short wedding. And we had to clean up after ourselves.
Who would officiate? Our friends who married before us recommended their guy. We met, we bonded. Recovering Catholic, ex-Marine and Vietnam Vet (Semper Fi!), married, active in Alzheimer's charities. He felt that any couple who vowed to love and honor and protect and take care of each other exclusively deserved marriage rights, responsibilities and blessings.
Rings? Check (BIG check!). Limo? Stretch 300-- Check. Catering? Enriques, best Mexican in LB (had to give them a shout out!)-- Check. Rent tables? Check. Cake? Wait-- you get to go taste samples? CHECK!! Balloons? Check. Pictures? Check....
I flew my mom and my brother's oldest kids out for the wedding. Mom wasn't sure initially, but came around quickly ("Oh honey, just have a lawyer get those partnership papers written up!" "But we're going to have parties, and you have to come out." "Well then, LET'S HAVE A WEDDING!"). And as the two families met and united-- my quick-witted, quick-tempered widowed mom and my partner's sweet, slightly scattered parents--, all of a sudden we were surrounded by love and support on every side. And we realized we could do this.
Saturday came, and we descended on my parents-in-law's house to get last-minute stuff done. Nothing had gone wrong yet. Nothing WOULD go wrong, it turns out (the limo driver was even able to go back and pick up stragglers in the wedding party!). And it was really happening. It must have-- we have the pictures to prove it.
It's all a blur. Did we really gather on the beach that gorgeous Saturday afternoon? Did we really light the candle in memory of Del Martin, honoring her 55-year love story with Phyllis Lyon and their too-brief, finally-recognized marriage? Did we really say those heartfelt words swearing undying love to each other? Did the reverend really marry us? Did the reception go as well as everyone later said it did ("And we have the hangovers to prove it!")? Did we get MARRIED?
What did we do that is so different from what straight couples do? What are the religious right nutjobs afraid of? We don't want to barge into their churches and force them to marry us. We don't really care if they spew their hate speech. But we DO care that they want to make their hate speech the law here in California. And most of them are making their hateful pronouncements from OUTSIDE the state (and I'm talking about YOU, Mormons and Knights of Columbus and the American "Family" Association and Focus on the "Family").
Our story isn't the most magical, I'm sure. It's not the first (that was wonderful, beautiful Del and Phyllis, and we thank you for your bravery and your example of True Love). It's not the last.
But it's OUR STORY. And there are thousands of stories like ours. These have been magical, blessed days for us. Some want to take the marriage away from us, because they don't know us. They hold hatred in their hearts for us. They must. Why else would you take away anyone else's rights? Why deny people their magical, blessed days?
A colleague here at my firm married over the weekend. He and his husband are headed to an exotic, lengthy honeymoon. And the stories add up. Will they return home to find their marriage nullified by a vote paid for by out-of-state bigots? Will their blessed days be over so soon? Will my husband and I still have a marriage?
This is our life.
This is the State allowing our rights to be put up for a vote.
This is a stark reminder that someday YOU might be part of a group some deem "less than human" and "unworthy of Constitutional protection". If you don't do the right thing now, will others be there for YOU if the whackjobs come for you?
A coda: Our neighbors (with the exception of the Fundamentalist nutjobs next door) have been invariably friendly to us, but we didn't really know if they accepted us.
Then yesterday I came home from work, and found that our across-the-street neighbor had prominently placed a No on Prop 8! yard sign in his Halloween display.
I felt a bit stronger. SOMEONE is pulling for us after all.