A brief, personal history of marriage on our fifth wedding anniversary
Why we didn’t wait for California, and how our home states finally caught up
February 1, 2008: Our first date.
June 16, 2008: California begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court rules the state ban unconstitutional. I’m on staff at OUT magazine but get loaned out to The Advocate to help edit the flood of news stories about weddings. I’m in the middle of work when my parents arrive for a long-planned visit to Los Angeles and meet Jessica for the first time. Everybody cries and points at the TV a lot.
October–November, 2008: We each consider asking the other to marry her, even though we’ve only been together about eight months, but (we later confess) while we are both sure This Is It, we’re also wary of rushing the best thing that’s ever happened to us just because of possible political outcomes.
November 4, 2008: Obama is elected president. Proposition 8 passes in California, once again limiting marriage. Everybody cries and points at the TV a lot.
February 1, 2009: On our one-year anniversary, I ask, “Do you wanna get married?” She says, “But — I have rings! I was going to ask you!” We are at a hotel; her rings are at home, tucked away in her dresser drawer. I win.
May 9, 2009: In order to add Jessica to my health insurance, we do the paperwork for a California domestic partnership. It’s notarized by a guy named Howard at a Mailboxes Etc. in Malibu who never removes his Bluetooth headset. To mitigate the dumb humiliation of the whole mess, we drink champagne and eat cupcakes on the beach, then get tattoos.
October 10, 2009: In our Silverlake backyard, aided by several dozen friends and family members who insist on helping, we put on the best goddamned wedding-slash-party-briefly-interrupted-by-a-ceremony that anyone’s ever been to. There’s a spontaneous sing-along during the vows. Everybody throw glitter and blows bubbles. We don’t talk about politics at all, but we do get drunk and sing backup for our friends’ bands. The cops come because we’re too loud, and we just barely remember why it’s a bad idea to offer them Jell-o shots. For months after, people who were there will greet each other by yelling YAY BEST DAY EVER. Which it was.
August 4, 2010: U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker says Prop 8 violates the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.
December 25, 2010: Jessica cuts her hand while cooking for a potluck. The ER staff say, blithely, that of course I can sign all her paperwork — I’m her wife. It is the best Christmas present I have ever gotten. It is overwhelming, and then depressing again.
2011–2013: Being married is awesome, but people are always asking us if we’re married-married, and the answer never gets less stupid or complicated or painful. We know we met each other at the right time to fall in love more easily and quickly than either of us had experienced before, but if it’d been a few months earlier we probably would have gotten in under the wire. We’re glad we didn’t wait for California or a court to tell us when we were allowed to get married, but we agree we won’t wait a minute longer than we have to when this bullshit is finally over to get all the rest of the paperwork done. We talk about our wedding all the goddamned time, partly because we’re smug and happy and annoying and partly because we know the more appealing it sounds the more outraged straight people tend to get when they realize we still need notarized, signed powers of attorney and have an always nagging fear that at the worst possible moment we won’t be able to convince someone in some stupid low-level position of power to agree we’re already fucking married.
February 7, 2012: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Judge Walker’s decision.
June 26, 2013: The Supreme Court rules that parts of the broad federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 are unconstitutional. Back pointing at the TV, except this time Jessica is at a work retreat in New York, so we’re both on the phone crying.
June 28, 2013: The stay on same-sex marriages in California is lifted and marriages begin. Because it’s late on a Friday afternoon, Los Angeles County officials announce that its clerks will open Monday morning with full service to all couples.
June 29, 2013: Dress shopping! We agree it will be the one and only time we wear matching outfits, mostly because the forecast predicts very hot weather and we have somehow found a mutually flattering dress made of the lightest possible material.
July 1, 2013: We wait in line with a bunch of couples on their way to work at the Beverly Hills Courthouse, then come out the front doors to a flurry of photographer flashes and news crews. We have a brief ceremony in a West Hollywood park. There is a lot of crying and this time we are the ones on TV.
October 6, 2014: Same-sex marriages begin in Virginia, Jessica’s home state.
October 9, 2014: Same-sex marriages begin in Nevada, my home state.
October 10, 2014: Five years. FIVE YEARS. Life is long when you spend it with the right person. So far so good.