Married in Stages
Thinking it over in the light of the Supreme Court’s history-making, family-honoring twofer of equality-enhancing decisions, I realize that my husband and I got married in stages. This could, I suppose, be true of any couple who end up at the altar; but I suspect that there’s more to it in our case, and I think it’s a gay thing.
After all, for the first 19 years of our relationship, we were not allowed the benefits and protections of marriage. When we finally could say our vows and have them mean something legally, it was a covenant with limited civil scope, recognized only in Massachusetts. In the nine years since then, the lonely toehold of family freedom has expanded to 12 states and the District of Columbia, with California set to regain marriage rights in as little as a month and a further two states distinct possibilities for marriage equality in the near future.
But even before then, our marriage was a long process -- starting with our incomprehensibly long courtship. Who, even among straight couples, meets in September and then does such a drawn-out mating dance that they don’t get down to business until the following May? If it had been a sitcom, I’d have tuned it out mid-season.
Then there were the bumps, swerves, and jags along the road to simply coming out. (I know straights sometimes have to resort to hiding in closets when friends of their partners drop in, but it’s especially irksome when you’re a gay college student... who’s in the closet to begin with... and who’s then asked to, well, hide in the closet. And don’t even get me started on the time when I was compelled to flee through the window of his dorm room.)
Five years into our relationship, he moved abroad for work. We spent a year apart. Were we together? Had we gone our separate ways? Things came into focus when he came back to the States to pay a visit. We were sharing a shower (listen, I’m from the desert; it’s the eco-friendly thing to do) when he asked me to pass the soap, and followed that with, "With you marry me?"
I gave it some thought. "Will you marry me?" I rejoined.