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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Un-married

Valentine's Day is usually, at least in principle, a pretty special day for lovebirds all around the world. It is the one day of the year we collectively remember to be romantic by spending billions of dollars on flowers, chocolates and other such tokens of affection.

Little did I know on February 11 that the weekend surrounding Valentine's Day 2004 was going to be not only ridiculously romantic but also indescribably historic for me and thousands of people of my persuasion. Little did I know then that I was going to be married 5 days later. You see, I didn't expect to get hitched until a year or two from now, after I had moved to Canada. But how quickly things would change.

My parents' generation will never forget where they were the day Kennedy was shot. I will never forget where I was Thursday, February 12, 2004. I was at home. For some obscure reason I was watching Fox News, when the story broke. San Francisco had just performed the first legal same-sex wedding. WHAT? I couldn't believe it. I frantically flipped through the channels, but the headline was the same everywhere. And they were going to continue performing those weddings until someone would stop them.

Three days later my partner, Christine, and I were in a rental car heading north for San Francisco. If they were really going to continue performing weddings over the weekend, we had to seize the opportunity, because we knew Pat Robertson's posse would put an end to this mayhem as soon as the courts would open the following week.

February 16, my wedding day, was glorious. It was raining cats and dogs, and boy was it cold!!! Bundled up in blankets and towels, we clumsily jogged down to San Francisco City Hall at 6 o'clock in the morning. By the time we got there, a line of umbrellas was winding itself around all four corners of the square. With nothing else to do but to wait, we anxiously hoped for someone to tell us what was going to happen. Mark and Eric, a couple of locals, took one look at our soaking wet blankets and gave us their umbrellas. We waited, and waited, for hours, 9 to be precise, until we finally made it inside City Hall, where we were given our marriage license applications and told to wait some more. So we did. And we never complained. We didn't find it in our hearts to complain, because they were filled with joy. We were going to get married. Who would have thought?!

At around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, we were married under the rotunda of the San Francisco City Hall, after bearing witness to Mark and Eric's wedding. I trembled, I cried. I was a proverbial mess. But I was married. Christine and I were now spouses for life.

Well, life turned out to be about 6 months. You see, Christine and I are at this point no longer married, courtesy of the California Supreme Court. No, unlike Britney we didn't seek an annulment, unlike J Lo we didn't get a quicky divorce, we had our marriage erased in a much more exclusive fashion - by having the highest court in California declare them void ab initio.

I will tell you now that I was prepared for and expecting a ruling to that effect, I will tell you that given the specificity of the issue I agree with the court's ruling (the ruling did not speak to the constitutionality of same-sex marriage). I will tell you that the fight is not over yet, that I think in the end we will prevail, and that at any rate Christine and I will eventually settle in a country that does recognize our family.

While all of that is true, it still hurt. When I heard about the ruling, it felt like someone had stabbed me, not in the back, but right through the chest. It hurt. It hurt when friends told us that our wedding bliss wouldn't last long, and it still hurts now. I guess you can't quite prepare for that sort of thing - ever.

2 Comments:

Blogger Girl Ipsa said...

I was a little peeved at the court because I think they could have remanded the issue and saved your marriage for and until the ultimate constitutional question is addressed. That would have been the decent thing to do. After all, this out break of lawlessness and domestic bliss wasn't hurting anyone but you and, I guess, Mark and Eric.

So, I hope that you realize that your void ab initio marriage remains meaningful because you were brave enough and committed enough to stand in the rain and insist that you be treated like everyone else. The bad news? You are now Et Ux.

8:07 AM

 
Blogger mainja said...

i just stumbled on your blog and read this posting. i have to say, despite it's unhappy ending it was a lovely thing to read. i got goosebumps imagining the line up of people who wanted to get married.

i live in ontario, and although i don't remember the date they announced that same-sex marriage was now an actual legally recognized thing now, but i do remember where i was. i was in the car. alone.

i started whooping and holloring and yes, i ended up crying. gotta say, i felt a bit geeky for all that, but really, i was there watching a piece of history. it's as though i was watching something like women get the vote. and something so long overdue, hard to keep the emotions in.

2:17 PM

 

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