Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Marriage Equality - One Year Later

There's been a lot of news this week (or at least a lot of postings by friends of mine on social media), that this is the one-year anniversary of Minnesota's Marriage Equality law being passed.

It's appropriate, then, that in the past few weeks Christopher and I have been to two different weddings, each of which had two grooms. Christopher likened this to the way that all of our straight friends got married in their twenties - because they could - so now our gay friends are doing the same.

But the two weddings were truly different from each other. The first was for a couple who have been together for 14 years. The ceremony and reception took place at a downtown hotel, and it was all kind of laid back, yet a little slick (in a good way). The ceremony was kind of non-traditional, with some laughs amidst the seriousness, and it was followed by a cocktail hour, then dinner and dancing. The crowd was probably about 60-80% gay men (I'm guessing on the higher end, really), and it was very fun.

The second wedding - also very fun - was much more traditional. The service took place in a church, then photos were taken before everyone piled into cars to drive to a hotel in downtown St. Paul where the reception took place. Once at the hotel, there was a cocktail hour, also followed by dinner and dancing. This time, however, the crowd was about 95% straight. Which made it feel even more "traditional" than the one the week before.

There's no question about it - the weddings matched the personalities of the couples. After all, no one ever said that gay men were all the same, so why should their weddings be? And, for that matter, there's nothing that says that all gay or lesbian couples have to have a wedding, either. Although, the fact that they can added a really fun aspect to the first wedding: meeting a bunch of men who were identifying their significant others as "husbands" - which couldn't have happened a year ago.

Which is where things got a little funny at the second wedding reception. I was sitting next to a very fun couple, and after the husband found out that I'm in a relationship with Christopher, he asked when we were going to get married. He might have said "if", but I'm pretty sure it was "when" - and it felt like "WHEN????" Mind you, this is someone I had just met. Nice enough guy. Charming wife. Aside from that, I didn't know him from Adam.

So I said that Christopher and I haven't really talked about it, which (because it's true) is our usual answer, and which usually gets people to say "oh" and then go on to something different. But he asked "Why not?" so I explained that there are a lot of financial implications for two people (of any orientation) who are in their forties and decide to get married. He obviously wanted a better answer.

So I explained: We're not fresh-out-of-college 20-somethings who are lovestruck and excited about the new freedom. We're not a together-for-40-years couple who are beginning to look at the serious healthcare and end-of-life decisions which can only be made by spouses. We're 40-somethings with financial baggage and responsibilities which we have to consider. And, at least for now, we've been together for 8.5 years and are happy the way things are - just like a number of our friends, both gay and straight.

Again, I'm used to people kind of letting that sink in and saying "That's cool. It's good to think those things through and not rush into anything just because you can." But he didn't say that. He looked me square in the eye and said "But that's why we fought so hard to push this through the legislature. It's why we spent all that time on the phone with people and did all that lobbying. We did all that work for people like you, so that you could get married." There was no mistaking the implication that he meant "so that you would get married" instead of "so you could get married."

I just kind of looked at him and shook my head and reiterated, "The option is incredible. But we just haven't really talked about it." I could tell he was crestfallen. It was like when you disappoint your favorite teacher and get a lower grade than you should have and you have to deal with that "You could have done better" look as your paper is handed to you. But at least the conversation ended. And for the rest of the night we were back to smalltalk and celebrating the couple of the evening.

And, while Christopher and I have totally spent a little time after each wedding saying things like "I don't ever want to do X" or "I really liked Y", we still aren't having any big conversations about it. And, yes, that's perfectly fine.

Which brings us to my book club this week. I was talking about the two weddings (we had read Bridget Jones's Diary, which talks about relationships and "smug married people," so it sort of fit in), and I told the story of the guy from the second wedding. Everyone at book club looked at me and said "But the law means that you can get married - not that you have to get married." And I realized two things, then and there:

1) In my book club - as in my life - I am surrounded by really smart, cool people.
2) Sometimes simply having a choice is the most important part of life, and I'm really glad to live in a state where I have one more than I did just a little over a year ago.

Want to know how I was feeling about all of this last year? Check out A Question I Never Really Expected and/or Newly Minted Possibilities

1 comment:

Robin said...

love it! And it is a choice now (not a requirement) - for everyone.