My husband and I married one week ago this weekend. We probably won’t know for years what the ceremony and union ultimately signify for us. Immediately, however, we were joined legally. I have the pink, temporary marriage certificate to prove it.
Since noon last Saturday, I have felt both completely different and exactly the same.
We have been slowly committing to each other throughout the last three and half years. Moving in together in a state neither of us had ever lived in before was a big step. We learned more about each other’s habits and lifestyles. Since we’d been long distance for two years and spent chunks of time essentially living together in each other’s apartment, nothing was shocking.
For this reason, as I looked into his eyes and we said our vows before our closest friends and family, I knew I was marrying my best friend. Someone I trust, love and know.
When we walked out of the center of the circle as a married couple, I was jubilant. Simply jubilant. I knew that we were not only bound by our emotions, but also by a legal and public commitment. We had made a public vow to care for each other and our union throughout our lives. This vow would be recognized by our government.
I like calling him “my husband.” I like being a part of an institution that allows others to know and understand our relationship without question (of course, if I had taken his surname, this would have been more obvious.) I like that I could be on his health insurance. I like that we can hold hands in public.
“Society” wanted us to marry. The word “society” is a vague one that often serves as a crutch. However, I think you understand, without labels, who I mean when I write that “society” did not always approve or recognize our relationship when we were living together as an unmarried couple. When we stayed in hotel rooms with one bed. When we accompanied each other to the doctor. We are lucky that our “society” only took it that far, considering what happens in other, less forgiving “societies.”
We did not marry in order to please this or any other “society.”
We got married because it was important to us to share our vows of love publically and be bound legally.
I recently wrote an essay on this subject and a friend reading it noted that I sounded defensive. Perhaps. I feel compelled to explain myself to those who vote against gay marriage or see marriage as only a religious sacrament instead of a civil right with legal implications.
For these and related reasons, we asked my husband’s friend Dr. Jonathan Ladd to read this during our ceremony:
Goodridge v. Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health
By Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall
Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.
Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.
We are not the first couple to include part of Chief Justice Marshall’s statement in their ceremony. We will certainly not be the last.
May all consenting adults be allowed to marry and experience our jubilance, publicly and under law.