This is one straight person’s story about the right to marry. It’s probably a bit dull, but what can you expect from a boring married guy?
I got married in the middle of August of this year. Those are our wedding rings in the picture off to the right there — my wife was playing with a digital camera while the rings were still a novelty to us.
When we were planning our wedding we knew we would be inviting several same-sex couples, and were painfully aware that these friends of ours did not have the same opportunity that we did. Their love and commitment was no different from ours, but the stability, rights, and formal recognition of marriage was forbidden for them. On the other hand, we could get married for less than a hundred bucks and a couple hours in a county clerk’s office, just because we happen to be a straight couple.
But then, on May 15, the elected, mostly Republican, Justices of the California Supreme Court did the right thing and ruled that our State’s Constitution did not allow the government of California to treat gay and straight couples differently by allowing one the rights and privileges of marriage, while denying those rights and privileges to the other. Suddenly, the same-sex couples we’d invited to our wedding were legally just as good as us. They’d always been just as good as us in reality.
Three months later, by our wedding, one of the same-sex couples we’d invited had gone down to the Oakland county clerk’s office and gotten married after eleven years together. Two more of the same-sex couples had set dates for their weddings in September. We were privileged that our wedding was for these friends of ours not a reminder of what they couldn’t have, but a celebration of marriage in which everyone could see a future for themselves.
In the month of September, we attended three different same-sex wedding celebrations as same-sex couples celebrated their new equality. Our next-door neighbors threw a party to celebrate the legalization of the commitment ceremony they’d had two years ago. And of course, I was honored to attend Brian’s wedding, which was full of family and friends, most of whom were straight and not even a little bit political — just people happy to see the marriage of two profoundly decent men.
Most important to me, a friend I’ve known for thirteen years married the man he loves, someone who makes him happier than I had ever seen him before they found each other. I’ve lost track of the number of meals I’ve eaten at their house, including several amazing Thanksgiving dinners. The level of generosity and kindness they’ve shown to me and my wife over the years has been extraordinary. They have been part of our community, part of our support system, thrilled that we were getting married, even before they could marry. And now, my friend and his husband have the stability, the recognition, the rights that my wife and I do. That is as it should be.
Marriage for same-sex couples gives them someone that the law allows them to rely on, binds them more closely into their community, makes them equals before the law in their community, allows them to form a family — just as good as you and me. That’s good for everyone. It’s good for me that my gay friends can marry, that their households and relationships are stable and protected by law. We are stronger together than we are apart.
Support your community — all of your community.