Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Question I Never Really Expected

Today, as some of you probably already know, is my parents' 57th wedding anniversary. And, no, that's not a typo. And even though I frequently forget how old I am, I've done the math multiple times on this, and I'm pretty sure it's right, since I turn 46 in a few weeks.

In an age where people talk about divorces and second (or third) marriages almost as often as they talk about "first" marriages, I understand how amazing 57 years of marriage to one person is. And I'm also old enough to know that this does not mean that they've had 57 years of "wedded bliss." While they're still two of the most romantic people I know, theirs has not been a marriage of happily-ever-after fairy-tale-style smooth sailing.

What it has been, instead, is a marriage. It's been arguments and swearing. It's been tears and frustration. And it's been kids and grandkids and dancing in the kitchen. And kisses that my siblings and I still pretend not to see from time to time. And it makes me happy and excited to look at them and think "Of all the things I inherited from them, that's what I most want people to see in me."

Which makes all the recent legislative news in Minnesota that much more interesting.

You see, after we in Minnesota defeated an "Anti-Gay Marriage" amendment to the state constitution last fall, we've had an amazing thing happen. The state House of Representatives voted last Thursday to approve the "Marriage Equality" bill - which would grant gay people the right to legally marry. The bill goes to the state Senate, tomorrow, where it is also expected to pass (based on the fact that people seem to be voting along party lines, and the Democrats took control last November).

Assuming this happens, then Governor Mark Dayton has said that he will sign the bill - and hold a huge celebration for it - on Tuesday. Marriages could begin as soon as August 1st.

On Thursday, gay men and lesbians in Minnesota started showing up on Facebook with new relationship statuses of "Engaged." There's a restaurant in town offering to throw a full wedding and reception on August 1st for one lucky couple. And there's one strange side effect I hadn't expected: I've been getting asked by friends (and strangers, too, actually) if Christopher and I will get married.

Many years ago, before I came out, I had always kind of assumed that a wedding would be in my future. But after 20+ years (I came out late) of being told that I couldn't get married, I kind of stopped thinking about it. And now the possibility is suddenly there in front of me, once again.

It's oddly exciting and terrifying all at once. It's a feeling of power, sort of. A feeling that each one of us - gay or straight or somewhere in between - has the right to take destiny into our own hands. It's such a simple thing - something so many people take for granted. The chance to say "Yes, we're going to get married" and, equally as empowering, the right to say "No, we're going to stay the way we are."

Even though I have no idea what our eventual answer will be, the more I think about it, the more thrilling that question - that simple "Do you think you two will get married?" - becomes.

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