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