It’s Freedom to Marry Week, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and my double anniversary* is coming up. I could run through a list of the reasons why this issue is so important to me, but I will point you towards Freedom to Marry’s pages that present arguments for allowing same-sex marriage and a short list of the rights and responsibilities that are unavailable or difficult to obtain for families headed by a same-sex couple. I suspect that for many of my readers, there is no need to attempt convincing.So instead, I wanted to reminisce a little about the role that the idea of ‘marriage’ has played in our relationship. Humor me while I wax nostalgic.
When I first came out (mumble, mumble) years ago, I generally accepted that I would not ever get married and that I and any partner I might have would need to define our commitment for ourselves. Once Trillian and I were together long enough to be talking seriously about our future, we found that we were in agreement. Even as we settled in for the long-term, we also made a vow that we would not have a commitment ceremony or anything similar unless it created legal recognition of our relationship. Part of our reasoning was that we and our friends and family already recognized that we had created a life together, making a ceremony-for-the-sake-of-ceremony unnecessary. Our other reason was a little more practical—we both are of the small celebration mindset, and we knew that it would be impossible to keep things small if Trillian’s mother had any say. At the time, we both felt confident we would never have a need to revisit the issue.
When we bought a house, we looked in a geographic area that straddled a few different jurisdictions. Due to differences in laws towards gays and lesbians, we eliminated a large number of neighborhoods we liked because it would be harder to protect our relationship there. Our house was in an area where we had more government recognition of our relationship (not a lot, but not invisibility) and where we could pursue a second-parent adoption once we had children. My job had domestic partner benefits, and Trillian was listed in the faculty directory on the spouse line with my information.
As part of the second-parent adoption process, we had to complete a significant amount of estate planning and so ended up with many of the documents that aim to insure that same-sex partners have legal rights and responsibilities approaching those of a married couple. It was not particularly fun to sit down and think about the various death scenarios our lawyer gave us, but it means we have a document that spells out our wishes so that we don’t have to rely on the court’s interpretation of our (non-)relationship.
During all of this, same-sex marriage began to look like less and less of an impossibility.
And the more that a legally-recognized marriage became a possibility, the more it was debated and analyzed, the more I began to realize just how much I wanted it. The immediate reason was the inherent protection it would give to any children we had, but there was an undeniably sentimental aspect to it as well. When Massachusetts began to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, Trillian and I began to plan and push at the strict limits of our old vow. Although it would not necessarily transfer to where we lived at the time, we would eventually move to
When we decided to move to
Although I have finally become comfortable calling Trillian my ‘wife’ instead of ‘partner,’ I remain aware of the ambiguity of our status. In
I am hopeful that those lines will continue to be erased and look forward to the day when I can check off the ‘married’ box without hesitating to think about my present jurisdiction.
*Trillian and I celebrate a double anniversary during the month of February. More than a decade ago (and increasing faster than I can quite believe), we began our relationship. Two years ago, on the same day, we were married in