If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Four Weddings And A Marriage

I don't like weddings.  I especially don't like traditional weddings.  I don't even like diamonds.  As a child I never once imagined myself as a bride.   I can't understand spending a lot of money for a one-day event nor do I understand the fun of planning a wedding.  However I do understand the importance of marriage.

There are four weddings being planned by family, friends, and loved ones in my life.  In all four cases the couples have strong relationships based on true understanding, friendship and respect.  I will be happy to watch them make their commitment public.

Two of the weddings are with family members and I will be more intimately involved in the planning and execution of these weddings.  My sister C is marrying K.  I was honored when they asked me to officiate.   I haven't known K for very long.  C met him after I had moved to SouthLite and he and I met for the first time this past Thanksgiving.  It didn't take long to see how well they work as a couple.  I have never known my sister to be this happy.

Pumpkin and BB got engaged earlier this month.  I love them both and I know how much they love each other.  In true Pumpkin fashion, she is all about the wedding planning and has gone dress shopping every weekend for the past three weeks.  The wedding won't occur for a year and a half but she has been looking forward to the planning since she was a child.  She is almost sad to be doing it because once it is over it will no longer be in her future.  This boggles my mind.

b and I got married eight years ago today.  We did not tell my family we were getting married.  We did tell Angel and the three of us stood up in front of a judge on a Wednesday morning.  The judge's secretary was our witness.  Afterwards we went out to lunch and then spent the afternoon bowling.  It was perfect.

b and I had already committed to each other and, both having failed marriages under our belts, had no intention of every marrying.  However C's long-time partner, a man I considered her husband and my brother, died very unexpectedly that January.  Since they were not legally married, C did not have certain rights in arranging for his funeral.  At the same time b, who had no health insurance, got pneumonia.  We were broke and getting him the medical attention he needed was difficult and stressful. Angel and I were covered under my insurance and neither one of us were sick.

To me, marriage (legal or not) is about being 'it' for someone else: the person who stands by you emotionally, physically, and financially.  Saying you are married is saying you take responsibility for another person and that you trust and allow that person to take responsibility for you.  It does not mean that you give up your autonomy but that you balance individual needs within the needs of the family you have created.  Until the events of that January, I thought b and I did and could do all of that for each other.  However it became clear to me exactly how legalities can inhibit your ability to care for your chosen family in a time of crisis.

It was remarkably easy to get married.  We did it in under a week.  There was some paperwork and a few fees and then the event itself.  While it is not a romantic story, it is also not a sad one. Necessity and pain may have been the catalyst to my marriage but it is founded in a deep commitment to care for and about each other.  b has made me feel cared for and loved since the very first day I met him (which happens to have been 12 years ago today).

I love being married. I may not 'get' weddings but I get the legal and emotional need to declare your commitment.  I know why it is important to have that commitment recognized and respected. This week I learned that my state has proposed a law to regulate who is allowed this privilege through our constitution.  As has happened elsewhere, some people in my state want to limit marriage, and by extension the definition of family, to opposite-sexed individuals.

As a member of a heterosexual couple, I got married in under a week.  I know of others who have done it in a day.  Today, in under 10 minutes, I was ordained as a minister online.  I now have the power to marry other heterosexual couples across the country.*  I find this a bitter irony.  Blocking this law is a fight that needs to be fought in my state and, unfortunately, every state across the nation.

*In what feels like a strange bonus prize, I also now have the power to absolve people's sins.


JOAN said...

Congratulations on your anniversary and your ordination. A preacher in the family. I'm impressed. And one who can absolve sins. That's power.

Seriously, it's criminal that same-sex partners can't get married everywhere in this country. For the legalities, if for no other reason. Change is blowing in the wind but I hope it starts blowing a bit more forcefully. Obama's recent move was a good first step.

Seeking Solace said...

Congrats on all fronts. Very happy for you and your family.

I am so happy that the Feds will not defend DOMA. It's such a crime that same sex individuals cannot enjoy the same happiness. As I explained to my students in Con Law, it's the civil rights issue of the 21st century.

Drax said...


Great post.

K said...

Very nicely put, Brigindo.

Of the three elements -- the celebration, the license, and the commitment -- I see the latter as by far the most important. In that sense C and I are already married, in that we've committed to each other, as you did with b.

I feel sorry for the young brides who look forward to the celebration aspect so much that they forget the rest. "Happily ever after" does not exist, even in fairly tales. The license and legal issues seem a necessary evil, but as C experienced with the death of her long time partner it can be very important -- and it is a shame that not everyone is allowed that same right in our society.

I suggested to C that we get married because I thought that she deserved a wedding sometime in her life. While neither of us are really big on the party aspect of a wedding it will be nice to share the occasion with a few close family and friends. And because we've already committed to each other then I doubt that I'll feel any different the day after, other than comfort in the knowledge that we have some legal protections.

In any event I'm immensely happy that we're together, and I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my life with this strange, wonderful woman.

Catherine said...

C here. Ditto for me--except I'll be spending my life with a strange, wonderful man. Never having been married before I have no idea if the event will change me. I expect it will--but I hope only for the better.

Congrats, Brigindo, on your and b's eight year anniversary! You make a great couple. And I'm thrilled that you're now a minister. The absolving people's sins part will come in extra handy, knowing our family.

I am outraged that marriage is denied to so many. A woman I've been friends with for many years has been with her partner for 50 plus years. 50! They have gone through good times and bad, like every other long-term couple and remain committed and loving to each other. That they are denied the right to marry while Hugh Hefner can marry a 24-year-old Bunny at the drop of a hat is mind-boggling.

Annie said...

When I was an older teenager, I had a drama teacher, a woman, who opened my heart and my mind. It was a simple comment she made, when I asked her, who does so and so say he loves, that he won't say who it is? When I made some guesses as to who it might be, she said to me, "What if it were a boy? Love is love." Marriage is a commitment, and an expression of love and caring. It should be open to anyone. It's awful that people would in any way restrict love, and being able to take care of loved ones. Love is love, and marriage is marriage; and it has nothing to do with a person's sex.

I'm curious. Why did you become a mail-away minister? Are you going to perform the ceremonies? My husband and I were married by a notary public, a secretary in my husband's office. It was a simple outdoor wedding, and the actual ceremony was held at the top of an observation tower overlooking the intracoastal waterway. Our reception was in the park's picnic pavilion.

Maggie May said...

a wedding and bowling- i love it :)

Amelie said...

Congratulations on your anniversaries!
I loved my wedding, and enjoyed planning it. But I agree with you that the marriage aspect, the responsibilities and commitment are so much more important. And that it's outrageous that this is denied to so many people (love the bunny example above). Where I'm from it is possible for same sex couples to be "legal partners" or something, but they don't have the same rights as heterosexual married couples (e.g. they cannot adopt unless one of the partners is the biological parent of the child). I suppose it's a start...