How to use your straight marriage certificate to make a point about gay marriage

July 26 | Guest post by Alaura

i support love
Thanks to blurgg for submitting this to the OBB Flickr pool.

We got our marriage license today! Very exciting, but I floated out of the Probate Court Office and realized that I wanted to let someone know my thoughts on Ohio's ban of same sex marriage. So I'm planning on turning in this letter with my marriage certificate in the hopes that the powers that be see it and pass it on…

July 16th, 2010
Judge Alan S. Acker
Franklin County Probate Court
373 S. High Street
23rd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Judge Acker:

I am writing to you to thank you for the opportunity to legally join my partner, [Joe], in marriage. Your office has provided us with the opportunity to protect the family that we will create under the laws of our state. Your staff treated us warmly and the process of obtaining a marriage license was much quicker and simpler than we expected. We thank you for creating a friendly, efficient environment in which we could make one step closer to solemnizing our marriage.

I do, however, want to express a grievance. It saddens me to know that while my partner and I may walk in to the Franklin County Government Building and go through the process of obtaining a marriage license in an effortless manner, thousands of couples in Ohio aren't allowed to. As I walked away with our marriage certificate, I realized that my partner and I have been given preferential treatment simply because of the fact that I am female and my fiancé is male. If I had walked in with a female partner and applied for a license, we would have been refused. The notion that the State of Ohio recognizes our relationship as somehow more legitimate than the relationships of same sex couples who are just as committed and have just as great a desire to create a family seems to me an infringement of one of the inalienable rights promised us in the Declaration of Independence: the pursuit of happiness.

I have asked that our officiant, Rev. Fowler, include this letter with our Certificate of Marriage in the hopes that my voice may be heard by someone who has the authority to provide the opportunity to marry to all residents of Franklin County. I do not feel that my commitment to my partner is in any way threatened or made less legitimate if a same sex couple were to be guaranteed the same rights that we have. If anything, the great
joy that I have upon entering a marriage with my partner has an undercurrent of sadness because we are marrying in a time when our state is denying the joy of marriage to so many. It is my fervent wish that when it is time for our children to walk into your office, they will be waiting in line with couples of all orientations, and they will be greeted with the same warmth that Joe and I were given today.

Sincerely,
[My Name]

How are you using YOUR wedding to fight for marriage equality?

  1. Completely BADASS!! You totally rule. What a classy way to make your voice heard. I don't know if it will make a difference, but maybe, if government got enough letters like this, it could mean something.

    5 agree
    • Love this! I am getting married in Ohio next month, will definitely have to do this!

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  2. Alaura,
    I logged on to OBB today with the intention of searching out wording for our wedding invitations and found this instead. I want to thank you for preparing this beautiful letter and setting an example for us all! I have been mulling over ways that my FH and I could make a statement in our own ceremony supporting equal rights in marriage for all. As I plan our wedding, I have been all too aware as I bubble over with excitement,that I am talking with friends and co-workers who are being denied this basic civil right.
    We planned to say a few words on the subject during the ceremony, but now I plan to follow your lead and submit (with your blessing) a version of the letter you composed with our certificate as well.
    Thank you again, and well done!!

    4 agree
    • Galadriel (and anyone else who wants to use it), please feel free to use any of the wording as you see fit…I'm just so happy to see this has inspired some other OBBs to action!

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      • I'm currently in the pre-planning stages of my own wedding scheduled for early 2012, but if the state of Florida hasn't recognized same-sex marriages by then, I definitely plan on following your lead!

        MUCHO KUDOS TO YOU! ^^,

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  3. Beautifully written. I'm going to have a part of the MA ruling an gay marriage read during my (hetero) ceremony in 18 days (OMG EIGHTEEN DAYS!!). I too feel like there is an undercurrent of sadness that not all couples are allowed to experience the same rights as my future husband and myself.

    2 agree
  4. i literally have goosebumps from head to toe. knowing that there are allies out there standing up to be heard gives this lesbian hope.

    5 agree
  5. I'm not even engaged (hopefully soon) but I came across your site and this post! So much respect for you! If and when I get married I will definitely do the same. :)

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  6. My fiancee and I hope to marry one day. Though we have a domestic partnership (we're in California)), it's just not the same. Though we're in different states, thank you for standing up for our rights.

    2 agree
  7. This is a great idea. I have ambivalent feelings towards the "institution" of marriage for a number of reasons and the lack of marriage equality is one of them. I do want to incorporate a message like this into the wedding I might have someday. (May have found the man for the job )

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  8. That was beautiful and perfect! My FH and I are very supportive of gay marriage and are fortunate enough to live in Massachusetts, or else I would have loved to have sent a letter too.

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  9. Fantastic letter. Excellently written, polite and respectful, yet extremely powerful. Great idea!

    1 agrees
  10. That is FANtastic. I only wish I'd thought of doing the same thing.

    When my husband and I got married on July 4th (geez, it's only been three weeks?!) I was overjoyed that my brother and his partner were able to fly in to be with us. But, at the same time, so incredibly sad that this couple, committed to one another since I was 14 years old, doesn't have the same right to get married that we do. I wish I'd thought to speak up the way you're doing.

    3 agree
  11. My (opposite sexed) fiance and I live in Franklin County, too. Maybe we can ALL start sending in letters like this in addition to our collective actions!

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  12. I agree with all the compliments. The Goodridge v Public Health Ruling of 2003 (Stating that MA could not deny same sex couples this basic civil righ) is the top reason why I am proud to call the Commonwealth my home. I am getting married in October and am also planning on using some of SCJ Marshall's opinion for the majority. Despite being a legal document, it's very moving. I recommend anytime OBBs get bogged down with stupid arguments with your mom about flowers, or start obsessing about whether your guests will want an edible favor or a keepsake, you just find a copy of the brief for a dose of perspective. Reminding yourself how many loving couples are denied this right, helps you refocus on what is important on your wedding day.

    2 agree
  13. We have a domestic partnership in Oregon. It's not enough. You've inspired me to make my own statement.

    1 agrees
  14. You kick ass. Seriously. Imagine the statement that could be made if every heterosexual couple getting legally married did the same thing.

    1 agrees
  15. I just cried a bit. Thank you so much for this letter.

    I don't live in Ohio or even in the States, but knowing that there's people like you, who not only think like this but act on it too, means really lot.

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  16. Bravo! You stated it so perfectly and in such a classy way that makes your point. Very well done!

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  17. Unfortunately, there's not much a simple county probate judge can do. The Statehouse is just up the street, I say cc them on this letter too. It would ultimately be up to the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn the Ohio constitutional amendment(which was unfortunately voted upon, grrrr…)which defines marriage in Ohio as being between only a man and a woman. (Or another voted-upon amendment, which I sadly don't see happening any time soon.)

    In the meantime, I'm a Franklin County resident myself so please post your wedding deets – and congratulations! :-)

    2 agree
    • Thanks for the insight, Anon…I will definitely try to get this into the hands of a State senator.

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  18. This is a great idea. I think that yes, while local judges may not have much power, publicly acknowledging the inequality in the institution you're entering into is powerful and important. When my husband and I got married, we selected HRC as an organization for people to give donations to instead of having a registry. I didn't believe for a minute that my (mostly very conservative) relatives were going to give money to a gay rights organization, but I wanted to call attention to the discrepancy in how het and gay folks are treated at a social and legal level. Hopefully we provided an occasion for thought about marriage inequality rather than pretending it doesn't exist or matter.

    Basically, even if you identify as straight, you can still "out" yourself as a supporter of gay rights, including marriage equality!

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  19. What a great letter. It's inspiring to see more and more hetero couples coming out to show their support of marriage equality. I hope you and your husband have an awesome and happy life together! <3

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    • Wow….I wish we could of all been able to submit this letter when we received our marriage license. Mine was 30 years ago when my husband and I married.

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  20. This made me choke up. Thank you for this. I'm going to do the same.

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  21. My bride to be and I are both bi-sexual, and so it has been a very present thought for both of us how "fortunate" we are that the person we fell in love with happens to be of the opposite sex. And this is sad. If I had fallen in love with a man or she with a woman, we would be denied the rights we now have.

    Our sadness over this issue has moved us to include as much recognition in our vows and the rest of our ceremony as possible. We are also donating to HRC in-lieu of favours. We have so many friends that are denied this basic human right, and we are working to show to everyone who witnesses our union in two-years that we support love, all love.

    This letter is amazing and I thank and applaud you for this, know that you have neighbours in PA who agree and will be looking to do similar things. May your marriage be filled with love!

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  22. This is a very lovely letter. You should send it to your state senators and representatives, who have the ability to change the law (as opposed to judges, who don't). Here's hoping that they are willing to listen!

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  23. I am making a copy of our marriage license and sending it with a cover letter to Judge Vaughn Walker, who is hearing the arguments against/for Prop 8 here in California. Thank you so much for this awesome idea.

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  24. As a postscript, after we returned from our honeymoon yesterday, we found this handwritten note in the mail from Judge Acker:

    Dear Mrs W,

    Thank you for your letter dated July 16 and congratulations to you and Joseph on your marriage. In less than three weeks, I will celebrate my 37th wedding anniversary and like you, my wife and I do not feel that our commitment to each other is threatened or made less legitimate if a same sex couple were able to marry.

    Although I share your wish that couples of all orientations one day will be able to marry, not just in Ohio but everywhere, sadly the Ohio constitution currently forbids this. As a result, we must wait until enough citizens are willing to change our constitution and allow everyone the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

    Sincerely,
    Judge Alan S. Acker

    His response has inspired me to take a more active role in the fight for marriage equality in Ohio. If there are any other Ohio OBBs out there who would like to join me, please contact me via OBT.

    3 agree
    • What IS sad is that in his letter, he pointed out that equal rights is seen as a popularity contest, to be decided by voters. It should never be left to a majority of voters who gets freedom and who doesn't.

      In California, tomorrow the judge will rule on Prop 8… fingers and toes crossed…

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      • My everything is crossed for CA as well!!!! It also seemed to me a bit defeatist for a judge to say "we'll just have to wait for it to happen." Since when does anyone in the history of this country just sit back and wait for equality to be realized? Can you imagine what would have happened if Abolitionists just waited for enough people to see just how inhuman the institution of slavery was? People have to fight for change. The majority cannot rule when it comes to defending the rights of minorities.

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        • YES! Thank You Judge Vaughn!!!!! Let's make marriage a right for *everyone* now!

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  25. This made me cry.

    Especially when you mentioned the Declaration of Independence.

    I love America yet, dammit.

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  26. What a great idea, and what an eloquent letter! Made me tear up a bit :) Thanks for doing this!!!!!!

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  27. I am getting married in 2 weeks, and I wanted to do something small to show my support and solidarity for LGBT rights. I will be wearing a bracelet from the Human Rights Campaign on my wedding day – and if anyone asks about it I will explain. I don't want to make any guests uncomfortable that don't agree with me (honestly, I don't even know some of the people coming), but it means a lot to me to acknowledge that not everyone has the rights that I do.

    Here's a link to the bracelet – they have a lot of great items. http://shop.hrc.org/equal-rights-wristband.html

    If you are interested in doing something similar, check out:
    http://www.hrc.org/
    or
    http://www.whiteknot.org/

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  28. I loved this post so much that I sent a similar email to my court house where we got our license, and received the following reply:
    Ms. Horne,
    I wanted to let you know that it is not the policy of the Gwinnett County Government Building or government to refuse the issuance of a marriage license in Georgia to same sex couples. This is a state law and we must abide by it. You may want to let your congressmen, senators, or Governor know of your feelings. As always, we are here to serve you in the future.
    Lorraine Stafford
    Gwinnett County Probate Court

    Fine! Let's contact our senators, and governors in that case!! =)
    Just wanted to pass on the info.

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    • "As always, we are here to serve you in the future." Hopefully you won't need them in the future. :D

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  29. This is wonderful! I am going to follow your lead and do something similar. I'm so glad you thought to do this and to share it with OBB. Kudos to you! :)

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  30. I am crying. That was so beautiful and so poignant. Thank you for sharing.

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  31. Thanks you so much for your support. My fiance and I are marrying in October here in Franklin County–though the legal piece will take place in New England. It's not been easy–can't legally marry in our own state, my family won't be in attendance due to religious convictions and even when we have a legally-binding marriage from another state, Ohio won't recognize it. They'd give recognition to a marriage solemnized between a man & woman in China, but not us. Frustrating…

    Be that as it may, I wanted to write you and thank you so very much for your support–and to thank all the commenters for their support as well. With folks like you in the world speaking out, we move closer and closer to marriage equality. Thank you! – Scott (& Chad)

    0 agree

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