19 September 2009

Love and marriage

I went to a bridal shower after work yesterday. The young bride-to-be will be getting married in a few weeks and everyone who attended was happy to share in her joy and excitement.

Weddings are a happy occasion and one of the rare life-landmark ceremonies that we recognize and celebrate in our society. Ceremonies serve to preserve rituals through the generations and the wedding ritual in particular is meaningful in its purpose of joining two lives.

Until recently, I had not given much thought to the fact that the ceremony of marriage establishing the union of two lives is not actually available to all members of our society. Perhaps I had not given this much thought just because I was not paying much attention to the world. Or perhaps it was because I simply took marriage, as an institution, for granted and conveniently forgot that for a portion of our society, this institution is not legal. (I wonder if that means it is illegal?) It is possible, that in my self-centered view of the world, I simply did not imagine that gay men and women would be interested in being married.

Ironically, I am a gay female and am planning to marry my beloved Cristy on June 26, 2010. The fact that our marriage will not be recognized as a legal ceremony in our society will not dampen my joy and it will not diminish its significance in my heart or mind. It simply makes me consider that the society in which I live and support with my vote and taxes, must imagine that I would not be interested in being married. Wrong.

Dead wrong.

I want to spend my life with the person that I love and this person happens to be female. I want to know that in all matters of public record, she will be considered my next-of-kin. I want to know that we have the option of filing a federal tax return “married filing jointly.” I want to know that in terms of major medical coverage, the term “life changing event” applies to us.

But this is simply not the case. None of these things will be true. In order to look out for each others’ interests, to the best of our abilities, we will need to define certain provisions in a legally approved document, something that other legally married couples would not necessarily need to consider. The irony of this is not lost on me.

In a conversation with the bride-to-be at her shower, I shared my news with her, since she had previously met Cristy. She expressed her happiness without reserve. I suspect that the way that we each feel about our level of commitment to our respective marriages is perhaps identical. However, there is a world of difference in the way that my fellow citizens will recognize our respective marriages.

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