All this civil union talk is bringing back memories of the late June day in 1996 when I got “committed.”
My first wedding day went without a hitch, except for the fact I didn’t officially get hitched.
Sun-filled skies presided over Mary Jane that day, the minister arrived on time despite a two-hour drive and nobody went without a salmon puff at the reception.
Everything was in place on my big day, except a little piece of paper. My partner and I got married without a license, because they don’t give them out unless a gal’s got a groom.
It looked like in Colorado that might no longer be the case, but “Civil Union” legislation died just hours ago. But as the bill’s sponsor Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver said, “”This is going to happen. It’s just a question of when it’s going to happen.”
While we’re revising this legislation, let’s work on what we call these partnerships. Civil? Anyone who has been in a marital union knows this word doesn’t always apply. Guess it’s better than “domestic partnership,” which conjures up a picture of a couple flipping a coin to see whose turn it is to clean the bathroom.
Whatever they call it, a lot of gay couples don’t want, or need, to get an exterior stamp of approval on their relationship. I know my partner and I didn’t. There are countless couples out there not waiting on the marriage debate.
But without that piece of paper and all those benefits that come with it, many wonder why a couple would bother going through a ceremony at all?
I always knew someday I would fall in love and have a wedding. When it was another woman I fell in love with I never considered giving up my day as a bride–only how I could alter the ceremony to fit our situation.
As it turned out the alterations were minimal. We changed the word “marriage” to “commitment” in the ceremony, danced with our maids of honor at the reception and planned for extra hors d’oeuvres in case protesters showed up. The result was a wedding so traditional, I think some of my less “with it” relatives were still up in the mountains waiting for the groom to show up when they started running the lifts.
The relationship my partner and I shared mirrored our straight counterparts. We put each other first in our decision-making, tuned to each other for help with life’s difficulties and to share our joys. We owned a home, had “discussions” about money (see aforementioned reference to uncivil behavior) and alternated Sunday dinner at each other’s parents’ home.
But there’s an important distinction to make. The meaning my relationship had didn’t develop from tradition, from society, from the law or from the example of countless millions before us. The meaning my marriage had came solely from the two people in it.
Unfortunately our marriage ended in divorce as so many do. And now that I’m married to a man and experiencing all those benefits denied gays in committed relationships, I see first hand how unfair it is to deny every couple these basic privileges.
Let’s just hope that “when” equality is going to happen is soon.