When Luisa and I began planning our commitment ceremony in 2000, I called my mother to tell her and remember her saying that it wasn’t a “real wedding.” She went on to say that it was actually illegal, clearly missing the nuanced difference between “not legally recognized” and “you could do jail time.”
In October of that year, our family and friends joined us in Minnesota for a celebration. There was a caterer and a photographer and a band and an open bar. We dressed formally and there was an officiant and we exchanged vows and rings and we kissed. I even got knocked up that day though, admittedly, there was more involved than a bottle of champagne and a hotel room.
Still, there were those, like my mother, who did not see our ceremony as a wedding and even I saw it as separate but not quite equal.
Yesterday, I stood in the Capitol building as the Minnesota Senate voted to make marriage equality a reality.
I was there with my two children and friends and their children. Luisa was out of the country and could not be with us and I missed her so much when it was announced that the bill had passed. I would have loved to have grabbed her and kissed her because 20 years is a very long time to live as a couple “not quite equal” to others. Instead, I was with my son who wrapped his arms around me, looked up into my face and said, “It passed! We won!”
I was already in tears.
Happy, sad or angry – my son cannot stand to see me cry. As we held onto each other in that sea of people, he just kept looking at me and saying, “You’re going to get married, mama. You’re going to get married.” I nodded and laughed as I continued to cry, “Yeah, I’m going to get married.” Then, he held my hands and said, “Promise me you’ll get married as soon as you can, before they can take it away.”
And that is the reality of the world in which he has lived – that rights are bestowed by higher powers but can just as easily be taken back.
I looked around me… at the woman in her fifties standing alone smiling and crying, at the elderly couple holding hands who could not stop sobbing, at the couple who had a sign proclaiming their 25 years together and then to all the very young activists who shed no tears, only laughed and cheered.
For those of us who are older, legal recognition of our relationships seemed unfathomable for most of our lives. For those young activists who were all smiles, it has always seemed inevitable. There is no doubt that this was a political victory but, for many of us, it was so much more personal than that.
With Miguel still wrapped around my waist, I texted Luisa, “Marry me? =)”. My phone died and I didn’t get her response until much later, “Yes!! =)”
It is easy to be cynical about marriage.
It is easy to be jaded.
But, if I could ask for a wedding present, it would be that we could all be happy about this for a little while. Yes, there is much more work to be done but, for now, let’s see marriage equality as beautiful.
After twenty years together, I will be able to marry my partner, my lover, my best friend and the mother of my children.
There is so much beauty in that.
About the Author: Vikki Reich writes about the intersection of contemporary lesbian life, parenthood and pop culture at her personal blog Up Popped A Fox and at Lesbian Family. Go forth and chat with her on Twitter by following @uppoppedafox
Originally published on Lesbianfamily.com. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.
Man, I was starting to think it would never happen here. I’m so glad it did :)
Vikki thank you. :) Minnesota is my heart-home (that’s super cheesy) but I spent five years there (college and a year before grad school) and it’s probably my favorite place in the world.
I’m just glad MN caught up. we’re number 12! we’re number 12!
Minnesota has had its sketchy moments in recent years but, with this, it has been redeemed! And heart-home isn’t cheesy at all…or it is in the best way.
Beautiful! Also love “heart-home.” I’m the antonym to Marika: six years there, for grad school. But next to my home-home (NorCal/ Bay Area), it is definitely my favorite place in the world, too.
And hey: that should be “With THE MOTHERF*CKERS’ PERMISSION,” don’t you think? Definitely accurate.
Make that “MOTHERF*CKING MOTHERS’ PERMISSION.” Yet more accurate.
Haha, I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.
so proud of my adopted state!
MY GIRLFRIEND IS FROM THERE AND I AM FILLED WITH CHILDLIKE, CAP LOCKED JOY!
This is so beautiful :) GO MINNESOTA!!!
YAY!!!!! I have lived in Minnesota almost my entire life and never thought it would pass. thank goodness I was wrong!!
Speaking as I life long Minnesotan I’m both happy and a tad anxious. I don’t know what the immediate effect was in Iowa and never imagined I’d see this a happen here any time soon. Maybe it’s just my usually tendency to fret about every bad possibility, but I just hope the good vibes won’t soon be eclipsed by an even larger backlash for all GLBT people and their families. With a state that’s given the nation both Al Franklin and Michelle Bachman, it’s hard to expect anything.
Well enough of my gloomy waffling. Congratulation to everyone who now can feel a little more like a full citizen!
UGHHHH those onion chopping ninjas have struck once more!! Major eye leakage. 4 for you, Minnesota folk, and 4 for you and your lovely family, Vikki. :D
I took my kids to the Capitol this evening for the signing and then we celebrated with fish tacos (insert queer lady joke here) and Surly beer by Minnehaha Falls. Can’t get much more Minnesotan than that!
Slowly but surely eh? I just wish Texas was next, or soon.
As Minnesoran born and raised and now loving on the east coast, I’ve got to say I’m proud of the home state and agree that it has redeemed itself after straying far from its typical social liberal/fiscal conservative self.
And I couldn’t agree more how crazy it is that it passes and makes national news but it didn’t make the world stop. 19yrs ago when I met my partner and fell in love, I couldn’t imagine such a day, including a call from my MN mom exclaiming excitedly that MN passed gay marriage. Pinch me. Awesome!
The words of your son made my eye holes leak violently. I think I might be broken or something.
You legally marry the shit out of that woman!
I’m so glad you now have the ability to take legal steps to protect and take care of your wonderful family. I send so many hugs and so much love, (but I’ll keep the face leaking to myself because it might be contagious).
Ahhh, I’m so happy for you all in Minnesota
Congratulations, Vicki! I was just having a conversation with a friend the other week whose fiance is from MN, and I was relating my skepticism of this passing. SO GLAD TO BE WRONG!
Also, this is a subtle but powerful message: “For those of us who are older, legal recognition of our relationships seemed unfathomable for most of our lives. For those young activists who were all smiles, it has always seemed inevitable.”
MN is more liberal than y’all think! I had very few doubts. I knew they wouldn’t put it on the schedule until they were pretty certain they had the votes, and also the Twin Cities are full of gays, so.
Goddammit I am tearing up like crazy at your son, and your story, and being so damn happy that we won two things in a week
So on May 2nd Rhode Island “won a thing” too and passed gay marriage after years of civil unions- :( so sad, no story posted on auto or afterellen!
This makes me happy inside.
Kleenex alert! :’)
Congratulations! Way to go, MN! *cheers!*
Crying. Just crying right now. This was beautifully written. As a 21 year old, it is true that I saw gay marriage as inevitable. It is furthermore true that I was never one of the gays who hoped to get married one day. I never had any interest. When I really think about it – all the finances and stress involved, the fact that I hate ceremonies of any kind, etc. – I still don’t want to get married, but when I read about these rulings and see the images of the old and elderly women and men crying with their partners, I just can’t help myself. It makes me want to get married, just because I have the opportunity, just because I can. <3