I never really had plans to get married. I know that might shock my fiancé, who has seen my Pinterest boards — but to be completely honest, that has only happened in the last two years or so, and they stemmed more from my love of party planning than anything. I wanted a wedding, the ultimate party planning experience, but marriage… eh.
I've always known I wanted to have a child. I know I want to experience that in my lifetime; I just never thought I necessarily needed someone else that was legally bound to be there. Sure it would be nice to share the financial costs of child rearing, but I figured I'd find a way through it somehow.
Marriage came with too much patriarchal baggage, as far as I was concerned. Wives and servitude and make-me-a-sandwich living held zero appeal to me.
And so I sang to myself my modern spin on the classic childhood rhyme “So-and-so and so-and-so sitting in a tree”: K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes baby. Then comes marriage… maybe.
In college, as the nation's consciousness for marriage equality began to gain traction, I signed a pledge to refrain from getting married until marriage was something anyone — regardless of orientation — could enter into. It was great: it fed my desire for activism and made me feel virtuous, even though it required no hardship on my part since it's easy to pledge to do something you had no intention of doing in the first place. They even sent me a black ring to wear on my left hand — and who doesn't love a cause with accessories?
But then a funny thing began to happen.
We began winning.
DOMA was struck down and soon you couldn't find a newspaper without a photo of some ebullient homosexual couple sharing a triumphant kiss.
I was thrilled.
Gays, lesbians, and trans folks have been in my life since before I even understood the concept of sex and sexual mores. I don't know that it ever occurred to me that the lesbian couple at church or my mom's gay friends were anything other than “that couple at church” or “my mom's friends.” I take the fight for equality incredibly personally, and as state after state dealt with marriage equality, I waited with bated breath to hear the outcomes.
As the results began pouring in, something funny began to happen to me: I started to want what those kissing-on-page-three newspaper couples were having.
And then something even funnier happened: I sort of met someone.
There was drama, of course, as there tends to be in any relationship when you feel the stakes are finally starting to matter. There was one particularly tense week when my then-boyfriend Jason went out of the country to visit his ex-girlfriend where I was nothing short of a hot mess of nerves and angst. It also happened to be the week I was scheduled to fly back home to help my mom with a party she was organizing for church.
Standing in the church's familiar chrome, no-nonsense kitchen, I poured my heart out to Doreen and transitioned-since-the-last-time-I-was-home Mark, as we filled up tiny appetizer plates of pulled pork as per my mom's Pinterest board-infused orders. (I'm telling you, I come by this party planning stuff honestly.)
When Christmas came around and I brought Jason home with me, Doreen and Mark met him with enthusiasm. That same trip home I learned that my mom's friend and his partner for nearly as long as I've been alive were planning to fly to California to get legally married. It was wildly out of character for them, and came as a shock to me when I heard their intentions. However, when we all had dinner before their big trip, I could see how much these wedding plans had changed their relationship's dynamic. I was used to seeing their long-term couple, lightly-bickering act, but that had changed, softened, into something tender and sweet.
And I began to want something like that too.
When Jason and I got back to Brooklyn from our trip, we began to talk about it all: weddings, marriages, and all that it entailed. For the first time I began to get excited about this marriage thing. I began to want it in a way I never could grasp before.
I want the tax breaks, sure, and I still have my eye on a Kitchenaid mixer. But more than that I want to stand in front of Mark and Doreen and my mom's newly-married friends, in front of my blood relatives and chosen family, and tell them all how much time I intend to spend with this man who has become more dear to me than I can sometimes believe, myself.
We are flying to Miami for some wedding planning reconnaissance. It will be the first time since we announced our engagement that I'll get to see my Miami chosen family. But there's more news we get to celebrate together: the Presbyterian Assembly voted to change the Book of Order to define marriage as being between “two people” and officially allow the gay marriages my own church has been performing on the down-low for years.
It feels momentous, but more than that, it feels right.
For all those Bible-thumpers that cry that gay marriage will weaken our society and ruin the sanctity of marriage, my reality is that the fight for marriage equality did just the opposite. It made me believe in marriage for the first time in my adult life. It made me want to get married, and now that this is something I can share with (nearly) all my brothers and sisters in this changing and evolving American society, it makes this time so much more precious and wonderful.