This post is part of the Love Makes a Family Blog Carnival. See the prompt and the list of posts here.
C and I had our real wedding over four years ago and our out-of-state legal wedding over two years ago.
When we got married the first time, it was clearly not for the rights we would not have and it was not really even to commit to one another – we had already done that. Our first wedding was simply born of the desire to celebrate the continuation of our over five year journey together and garner a new level of recognition, support, and understanding from our families and friends. It was an announcement to the world that we planned on being together as a romantic partnership well into the future and marked another step on our joint path. During the ceremony, we emphasized the role that our community of family and friends has in supporting our relationship and helping us keep the vows that we made. And then we partied the night away in what was one of the happiest, best, most fun nights of my life.
When we got married the second time, it was because our state was willing – to an extent – to recognize that marriage and we did not want to wait around to see if it would be taken away. Many of our closest friends and family drove with us through busy holiday weekend traffic to watch us get legally married (the judge repeatedly emphasized the word “legal” the way the minister at our first wedding repeatedly emphasized the word “spiritual”). The celebration afterward involved us handing out love-y CDs for everyone to listen to on the way back and eating cake.
What I like about being married is that it forces people to talk about the elephant in the room and to grapple with whatever feelings they might have about me and my relationship. After our first wedding, I knew which family members supported me, which absolutely did not, and which put up with the marriage for the sake of family ties. I also felt confident that C and I could visit any family member in full openness, without there being any question about whether we were friends, roommates, or romantic partners. After our second wedding, I was able to talk about my relationship to agencies that serve me – insurance companies, for one, hospitals for another. When K was born, I had the backing to have C added to the birth certificate because of our little piece of paper.
And because the elephant was in the open, when it came time for friends, family, and acquaintances to vote on whether my little family of three should be protected by law, there was a deeper understanding of what the law would mean and surprising support from places I did not expect. Not only that, family and friends who have known us for years suddenly had very personal, very meaningful talking points that they used to try to convince others that same-sex marriage would not destroy the very fabric of society. We were an example of two very ordinary people just trying to make it through the world like everyone else with our house and dog and kid. People who did not “get it” on the basis of the facts alone were more likely to understand when faces and stories of love and hope and the very basic desire for very basic protections were presented.
The truth of the matter is, C and I see ourselves as married regardless of the law. And we use the word “married” because of our understanding of it from our own families and our desire to pursue our ideal of marriage. And regardless of the laws that pass (or don’t), we would continue to use the word marriage, continue to consider our celebration a wedding, and continue to relate to one another and society in that way. The folks who want to “protect marriage” through the legal system don’t understand that marriage isn’t theirs alone, that it can’t be put behind some legal barrier, that it is, in fact, very accessible and that the meaning has already evolved. The folks who want to protect children from learning about same-sex couples don’t understand that it won’t primarily be from teachers that their children learn about same-sex couples, but from the friends of their children, friends like my daughter, who will hopefully feel no shame about talking about her two moms. And the folks who argue that same-sex couples are stunting the birth rate have not read my blogroll.
The reason we got married in the first place was to welcome the support of our families. When our community is able to follow, whether in positive comments at the end of an article or by voting marriage into law, our marriage becomes stronger. Which in turn strengthens the community. And makes the world a better place for us… and for our child.