When I saw a picture of Bethany and Josh’s Obama cake, I knew I had to ask her about her wedding. In her post below, read about everything from their first married fist-bump to a reading from the Massachusetts Supreme Court case, Goodridge vs. Department of Health.
Partisans can be like sports fans and perhaps there’s no better example of this than Obama supporters. Maybe the sports fan analogy explains how the Obama cake came about. We were half-heartedly leafing through pictures of cakes, when we came across a particularly elaborate groom’s cake devoted to UT’s football team. Josh and I are currently living in Texas and I’m guessing that football themed wedding cakes are pretty typical here. I laughed at the cake, but then I joked that we should have an Obama cake. Josh’s face lit up and there was no going back. We opted for a chocolate zucchini cake, because if a cake is going to be liberal, it should have some veggies. We explained the design to our wedding coordinator Abby: the sun, the blue background and the red and white stripes underneath. We know she’s heard crazier requests before, but Abby informed us that the red was not possible. Our wedding location only works with organic products and there’s no way to get a decent red. It may have been the most politically sensitive cake ever.
There was never a self-conscious, let’s tie our politics into the wedding discussion, but the wedding was planned during a year of when our normal obsession with politics became extreme. We took trips to Iowa and Pennsylvania for canvassing, made phone calls from home, and were beyond excited to see our candidate go the distance. Politics just seeped into the wedding: we followed our first kiss as a married couple with our first married fist bump. Ever since a commentator speculated about the “terrorist fist jab,” we just can’t help ourselves. Our first dance was to “Stay with You,” by John Legend, who also did lead vocals for “Yes We Can”. “Yes We Can” was not a part of our wedding, but now that I think about it, what a fantastic motto for marriage. We also danced to “Sign, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” and of course we served what my friend Andrew dubbed “cake you can believe in.”
These were light-hearted touches that we loved. The more serious political matter was gay marriage. This was pre-passage of Prop 8, but we didn’t kid ourselves that the government’s conception of marriage was becoming consistent with our ideals. I’ve learned that the history of rights in the United States is not one of simple expansion- we inch forward and jump back, again and again. We wanted to acknowledge the current political context and our own beliefs about marriage.
We tried to do this through a reading from a Massachusetts Supreme Court case, Goodridge vs. Department of Health, in which the Court found that the legal implications of marriage should not depend on whether a couple is heterosexual or gay. The portion read at our wedding was about the special privileges and responsibilities of marriage, and there was no specific mention of the legality of gay marriage. The pro-gay marriage message in the reading was for us. We made this decision because our friends and family are politically diverse and they were there to celebrate our wedding. Some guests did get the political implications of the reading, but most just thought it was an odd choice that was in keeping with our quirky ceremony. My friend who did the reading first mentioned the decision and noticed some puzzled looks in the crowd. She looked at us and shrugged while she said, “hopeless romantics,” and everyone laughed. I think she’s right, though since we’re Obama supporters and it’s Inauguration Day, I prefer to say that we’re hopeful romantics.
Bethany and Josh on Caucus Night in Iowa
Bethany Albertson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington.
In the news: I hope you’ll read Ann Keeler Evan’s January ’09 article entitled Election Year Wedding: cake you can believe in.
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