Real Marriage

Intimacy is what makes a marriage, not a ceremony, not a piece of paper from the state. — Kathleen Norris

I came across this quote on Twitter the other day, and something resonated with me. It is not the first time I have heard this sentiment, and I think it’s absolutely right. The only thing required to make a marriage is a relationship between two people who know in their hearts that they are committed to each other as life partners. Their thoughts, words, and deeds are what enable intimacy, love, commitment, and family to flourish.

By this definition, my wife and I married to each other; in the eyes of the law and most of the world we are virtual strangers to each other. Despite that and the lack of a piece of paper that would make our marriage legal, my wife and I, and our loved ones know that we are married.

And while I believe this, my wedding day six years ago is an important moment in our past that has a presence in our daily lives now.  The ceremony and celebration of our relationship, and the certificate that all of our guests signed as witnesses, while symbolic, is a bonding moment for us. While long since past, being able to reach back to the moment of that day and the love and care of our family has helped us get through some very difficult moments.

Same sex couples everywhere know all too well that marriage doesn’t require legal documents or ceremony. However, the support and respect that these offer strengthens relationships, families, and communities.

Freeheld Wins!

So, as usual, Gillian and I watched the Oscars as we always do, feeling really out of it this year because we just haven’t had the bandwidth to keep up with the movie season. We’ll get there with our Net Flix subscription, but we just haven’t had the time, energy, or money to keep up with the contenders.

Or so we thought. Sure, we missed Juno, but we managed to watch Away From Her before the show yesterday afternoon. And a few weeks ago we got out to see There Will Be Blood. I love the Coen Brothers, but I have to be in the mood to see something like No Country for Old Men (it looks scary!). Oh, and earlier in the fall we got to see Michael Clayton (I heart Tilda Swinton).

So, as they were announcing the best documentary short subject, I turned to Gillian to ask “How do we get to see the shorts?” to which she replied “Film festivals, of course.” And then Freeheld was announced the winner. We were just assuming that we hadn’t had the opportunity to see any of the films, so we weren’t really paying attention. But then the winners started talking about same sex couples and inheritance rights and stuff, and we realized that we had indeed seen this film! We saw Freeheld at the Reeling Film Festival during our first weeks here in Chicago.

Freeheld is the story of Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester, who, after a 25 year career with the Ocean County, NJ police department learned she had terminal lung cancer. She was denied the right to leave her pension to her partner Stacie Andree, a right she would have had if she had been in a heterosexual marriage. I don’t need to go into the details. See the movie. It’s amazing and inspiring and hopeful.

In one moment I felt so many emotions: Smug that I had actually seen the winning short documentary; sad at remembering the tragic story of love and loss that the movie told; grateful that Lieutenant Hester was brave enough to fight and generous enough to open her life during the last most intimate and painful moments of her life to fight for her partner and for the rights of others; proud that the battle for civil rights for same-sex couples has been brought to the forefront of popular culture in another way; and delighted that this important film won the Oscar.

It’s cheesy, I know, but this is why I watch the Oscars.

Four years ago today…


Just Married

Originally uploaded by silly.goose

Gillian and I made history. Lord knows we’ve been through a lot before that day and after it, and I don’t think that we would have made it this far if we hadn’t been able to get married. I have always understood that no marriage can survive without the support of a loving community. I am grateful every day for this anniversary, and for the celebration that we had with our family and friends the following August. We keep reaching back to the memories of these celebrations of our love, understanding that it is not a day in the past, but a celebration that lives in our hearts presently. Love is a blessing, and I hope that soon everyone will have the right to celebrate love, have it witnessed by their community and honored by the world.

Happy anniversary to everyone who shares this day with us.

Thanks

I am thankful for:

  • A spacious kitchen, properly outfitted with a gas stove and dishwasher
  • My wife’s superior cooking talents (I helped…fun in the kitchen)
    • Green bean casserole
    • Mashed potatoes
    • Cranberry apricot sauce
    • Herbacious gravy
    • Traditional turkey
    • Dinner Rolls
    • Pink bubbles
    • Beaujolais
    • Maple pecan pie with bourbon whipped cream
  • A satisfying twelve-year (yikes!) in prospect research that brought me back to my favorite city
  • Snow! On Thanksgiving morning. Our first snow since moving back to the Midwest
  • NPR and Third Coast Radio documentaries, especially The Ground We Lived On
  • Sam Cooke
  • Thanksgiving memories from my youth
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Public libraries
  • My great good fortune and health
  • Family and friends
  • Forgiveness and unconditional love
  • The hard work of reconciliation, faith and hope