As I’ve said, I’ve been married a couple times now, of course, each time to the same person (Never been divorced though :-)). The first time, well over a decade ago, was never legal, but it was by far the most important. Then we started a family, Rob quite his job and became a homemaker, and suddenly the law became quite important.
To that end, another tying of the knot was done during the national panic over gay marriage. I admit, we jumped the gun there, anxious to get the legal aspects. We were too naive also as to think it could hold. Maybe we should also have thought more about the backlash, but we knew it was already well on its way by then and it felt like, if we didn’t do it when it was offered, we’d miss our chance.
So a couple weeks after San Francisco’s city hall began giving gay couples licenses, we decided to do it. Rob spent nearly all day redialing the phone number before he got through and got an appointment for a month later.
When the day came, we decided to just fly in and fly out and we left the boys with their grandparents. Once there, we walked up to city hall absolutely nervous. The exterior was so quiet that we disbelieved we were in the right place. It looked nothing like it did on the news and we expected to have to at least sprint through a pack of wild-eyed protesters. Seems they got tired and went home.
As we entered, though, things were far from quiet, and far from hostile. San Francisco’s city hall is a beautiful spacious building and the main hall was full of palpable love, people making vows, cheering, crying. It was a spiritual experience if I’ve ever had one. Couples were there from all over the United States, and all incredibly nice and grateful.
When our time came, though, we were asked for our witness to come forward. We’d left never thinking of the help we’d need. We had none.
Fortunately, an elderly woman who, by her dress, one could have mistaken for an RNC chairwoman, noticed our stammer at the question and she took on the job. She was actually a retired grandmother from some small town about an hour away, and had been there all week, volunteering because she wanted to be a help in that step in history. Another woman, there for near the same reason as the first, would be our photographer. On top of that, we were given a beautiful bouquet of flowers. People from all over the world were sending flowers to be given out to the couples getting married; they were stranger just wanting to congratulate another set of strangers. Ours were from a family in Canada. Needless to say, it was all incredibly touching.
So we stood on the steps in this great hall. We said our vows once more, and kissed, and were overcome with the emotion, as is my habit :-). The crowd cheered and congratulated and we were given that official looking piece of paper telling us the state of California would respect our vows as any other citizen’s and hold us to our promises.
It was a great experience and I can’t say I regret it, even knowing what I know now. It was, in many ways, a very different experience than our first marriage, of course. There was no home full of friends and family, no caterer, no tuxedos, no promise of a great celebration to follow. We were alone in that town again, as were were a couple years before at one of the saddest days in our lives. I think we didn’t want to make a big deal of it, for the fear of encroaching on the original day, but it was special. Some aspects were surprisingly the same; there we were, making those vows, again. To just say it has great power, even if the vows aren’t in need of renewal.
Lastly in this story, as we were leaving Mayor Newsom, the guy who started giving out the marriage certificates in the first place, was coming in the door (yeah, too bad about the infidelity…). Anyway, he stood for a picture with us. It's unfortunate, as you can see, that a giant pigeon, wouldn’t you know it, flew right in front of the camera blocking our faces, but you get the idea ;-). Pigeon aside, it was a great day.
Ultimately, though, someone went to court. Someone argued that we shouldn’t have those rights or responsibilities, and they won. We’d have all that right now, but our sex was checked and, on a sad day months later, we received a letter in the mail telling us we were officially “single” again, forcibly evicted from legal matrimony. The letter was phrased nicely and the city of San Francisco offered to send back the fee they collected. We donated the money to HRC, seemed fitting.
I still keep that letter and that voided license as a significant piece of memorabilia. I’ll some day show it to my kids, and, hopefully, they’ll listen to stories about these days in philosophical disbelief.
Anyway, that’s not the last time I’ll be hitched, of course. [gulp] I’m engaged again :-).
One may think it would be old hat by now, but no. To assure your spouse you’d marry them over again, that you want to be responsible for and rely on them, and in such practical terms, is mooving for any relationship, I’m sure (but still, no, I didn’t buy an engagement ring. :-)).
We’ve decided we’ll be headed up to Vancouver at our next opportunity (if their law stands).
Now, I know--I keenly know-- It won’t be enforceable once the plane sets us back in Utah, but at least it’s one more tangible piece of evidence as to what my intentions are, if something were to happen to me. It's one more set of promises, another excuse to say them and hear them said, and in front of witnesses who will hold us to them. And maybe it’s one more legal connection that would be honored, if US and Utah law is someday made friendlier to our home (or if it gets so bad here we find ourselves crossing the 49th parallel in the dead of night ;-)).
Man, we should start asking for wedding presents each time; we could make a fortune...