Tuesday, August 26, 2008


We, just yesterday, received our certificate of marriage in the mail from the state of California.

Now we have three such certificates (or four depending upon how you count them), and, while I do enjoy weddings, I hope this will be the end of our collection.

The first one is our certificate of Holy Union from the Unitarian church that conducted our wedding. It's not nearly a legal document. It's smaller than the rest, and a bit sun bleached. Nevertheless, it's the one I'd grab if the house was on fire (and the kids, Rob, and my hard drive with all our photographs on it were already safe... and the dog too).

After that there's the License and Certificate of Marriage from the city and country of San Francisco. In this one, the printing goes off into the embossed border. In the Mayor of San Francisco's haste of political disobedience in the service of justice (or socially eroding act of anarchy, depending on your politics) they were printing the official certificates on the spot, as there was the feeling they would be shut down at any moment. I like this one for the memories of the time more than it's effect; I knew it had a good chance of not lasting in legality. We left the boys with their grandparents and that ended up being one romantic day-long date, before we hurried home.

Now we have this new 8.5 X 11 piece of paper, a Certificate of Marriage from the country of San Diego. It's printed correctly, and it's legal. Our names are there, along with our parent's names and it's signed by the county clerk. With it, we could move to California again, and have our family treated justly, as family. Rob could get on my health insurance. We could stop shuttling money in the small legal increments between us so as to eventually get our boys the same inheritance rights other kids would get. We could live without legal threat in our home zoned for "single families". All this could be fixed (with regard to state law, if not federal), if only we left Utah... and our extended family and all the familiarity and what we love about this state. That's what this paper represents, and I guess it's a bit bitter sweet now that I'm thinking on it. It's far more sweet than bitter though; it's far more of an option than we had and one we could use in a prolonged medical emergency. We just have to do all we can to keep Proposition 8 from annulling us again.

It's funny how that series of letters, "Marriage", that appears only once in this document, causes so many people such grief and righteous indignation. By most all evidence, the weather of vocabulary has already pushed the front lines here well past those aiming to demean same-sex unions. Most Americans know familial sacrifice, dedication, mutual care and love define the best aspects meant in the syllables of "marriage". The rest of the fighting is merely insults about who's ideal, and who's children deserve different parents, and whose God disapproves of whose family. They're seemingly entrenched to keep same-sex couples from reaching the actuality of the word, not to keep a word from changing meaning, as all words do and with no conscious control.

It's funny also how bureaucratically important these little flammable records of the inflammable bonds of family are. Something could even happen to Rob or me, but the past is still the past, and a union of human souls and human families is still a union. It's one of the most indelible and echoing connections engraved in that metal of the past. Still, I suppose the government needs their papers and the people their politics.


[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...


I assume you meant "county" and not "country" of San Diego. Unless it is its own country now because of gay marriage or something.

JB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JB said...

One thing that's particularly strange to me is that, at least in Mormonism and as far as I can tell Catholicism too, they have their own definitions for things. They have what they consider to be God's definitions of things. Even if the rest of the world defined a world differently, their God defines it as whatever they think It does. I don't understand why marriage has to be so different. If your God doesn't accept gay marriage, than your God doesn't—regardless of whether or not the government does.

If you don't really recognize non-temple marriages as totally valid (at least in all circumstances) or non-Catholic Church marriages as valid, then what's the difference between that and gay marriage? If a God is a respecter of persons and ceremonies but doesn't recognize certain marriages, why do they need to push that belief system on other people? Their God won't recognize it either way, so what does it matter to them if the government does? When did this become a theocracy?? There were founding fathers who were atheists, too, for cryin' out loud. (Sorry for the swear in the previous post. I notice you don't swear so maybe you're not so comfortable with it and I should follow suit!)

Mr. Fob said...

I'm gonna go see if my marriage certificate has started to crumble.

Eleanor's Papa said...

In my day, the Mormon vow of chastity referred to limiting sexual relations to one's husband or wife to whom one is "legally and lawfully married." (Mormons are obsessed with legalisms, but that's another story). Does that mean you're now back in compliance with your temple vows?

Scot said...

"Unless it is its own country now because of gay marriage or something."

I'm sure some red states wouldn't mind that.

Mystery to me too JB. Oh and I swear; I just censor it out :-).

Mr Fob: "I'm gonna go see if my marriage certificate has started to crumble."

Of the 10 marriages we had to ruin to get our gay marriage license, I don't recall Fob being the last name of any. You're safe, for now.

"Does that mean you're now back in compliance with your temple vows?"

LOL, well, I never got to the temple, having come out so early and having left the LDS church before I was aware of being gay. But I'll see if Rob is back in the LDS black now.

Mr. Fob said...

Of the 10 marriages we had to ruin to get our gay marriage license, I don't recall Fob being the last name of any. You're safe, for now.

I suppose that's because I got married in Utah, where we have laws to protect us from you people.