Thursday, January 02, 2014

Legal, Baby!

Five years ago on the day of our commitment ceremony, Jonah said to me, "Maybe we'll do this again in five years, and maybe then it will be legal."  At the time I thought we'd do it again somewhere like California.  Of course, I also knew that Jonah was referring to the fact that he would like a bigger ceremony and one that his family might attend.

Five years to the day Jonah and I were married UTAH of all places!!!!  Incredible.

I don't know what's going to happen as appeals are taken into consideration and when this reaches the supreme court, which it inevitably will.  But I've said in the past that this rolling stone can't be stopped.  Even if our marriage is declared invalid, which legal experts seem to think it won't be even if Judge Shelby's ruling is overturned; even if marriage between people of the same sex is once again outlawed in Utah, I think it will only be temporary.

And the optimist is me says gay marriage in Utah is here to stay.  I think the Supreme Court will find it unconstitutional to deny gay people that right.  In fact, the Utah case may very well become the springboard for all states having to recognize gay marriages...which would be the irony of ironies, in my opinion.

I think the Utah government is fighting a losing battle...and wasting precious tax dollars to do it.  But that is its prerogative, I suppose.

As for Jonah and me, our day was lovely.  We drove to St. George very, very early with a friend who would serve as one of our witnesses.  Because it was New Year's Eve, the Washington County Clerk's Office was scheduled to close at noon, so we wanted to get there as early as possible to make sure everything went through the way it was supposed to.

When Amendment 3 was overturned, Jonah and I had already asked for New Year's Eve (and New Year's Day) off because of our anniversary, and we had already been talking about getting married in California simply for tax and health insurance purposes.  That all this was occurring so close to our anniversary in the state where I was raised and where we had our commitment ceremony seemed fateful, so we decided to go to Utah and get married.

Some friends advised us to get married before our anniversary date in case the state was allowed a stay on same-sex marriages, but we figured if it was meant to be it would happen, which it did.

The county clerk's office was not busy at all, fortunately, and we were were prepared with everything we needed to apply for a marriage license.  The lady who helped us was very nice.  Because this happened so quickly and unexpectedly in Utah, the application forms still say "bride" and "groom," of course, so they had to white that part out to accommodate for two grooms.

We actually completed the process so quickly that we had an hour to spare before our minister and our other witness were to meet us.  Our friend who had driven with us offered o treat us to a wedding breakfast at a nearby diner, so we went there and ate, and it was nice.  Very large portions, too.

It was quite an eclectic crowd.  To the side of us was a redneck and his family and in back of us was a financial advisor talking to his friend about investing his money, and then of course, at our table was the gay couple about to get married in conservative St. George.

Jonah had picked out our outfits which consisted of custom-made tuxedo tee shirts with rainbow bow ties and metallic red roses:

black cardigans, skinny black jeans, and nice shoes.  We looked cute:

I kind of hoped the redneck nest to us at the diner wouldn't notice our attire.  But maybe he didn't care either way.  In any case, he didn't seem to notice.

We had found our minister through a Facebook acquaintance of mine.  We don't many people in St. George, but we knew some marriages had been performed there, so we asked my acquaintance if he knew anybody who had officiated.  He put me in touch with a friend of his who had gotten married in St. George, and that friend put us in touch with the minister who had married him and his partner.  She was more than happy to do it.

We didn't meet her until the day of the wedding.  She told us she would be wearing a purple top and black bottoms (actually, it was the other way around).  Purple is both Jonah and my favorite color.  I took that as a good sign.

I had also called two mutual friends who live in the St. George area and who I've performed on stage with and asked if one of them would serve as our other witness.  They were delighted to come.  I also found out one of them is an ordained minister as well, so he could have married us, too, if the need had arisen.  Also fortunate was that both friends are good photographers so they took pictures of our wedding (which arent the pictures posted here).

At ten in the morning, our friends and the minister arrived.  We immediately liked the minister and hit it off with her.  The friend who had driven in with us hit it off with my two friends, which was not unexpected.

The minister asked us what specifically we wanted to do in our ceremony.  We had arranged to exchange say a little something to each other and then exchange rings.  Nothing big.

We went outside the clerk's office and proceeded to get married.  It was a beautiful day, and I loved that we got married in front of a palm tree.

We began the service with Jonah saying a prayer.  I actually can't remember much of what he said, just that we were grateful to be here in Utah getting married legally.

The minister commenced while my friends took pictures.  Then we shared our thoughts with one another.  I told Jonah that we've been together eight years, and that five years ago we made a formal commitment to unite with one another.  I said it had been a hard year for both of us with his dad and my mom passing away, but what a great way to end the year by getting married.  I told him he drives me crazy at times, but there is no one I would rather have drive me crazy than him.  I told him he's changed my life and made me a better person and how lucky I am to have him and how much I love him and then I placed the ring I bought him six and a half years ago on his finger.

Jonah went next.  He reminded me that at our commitment ceremony I had vowed to help him plant 24 rose bushes in our yard and said that I did and now our yard is blooming with flowers.  The garden we have represents the life we have built and cultivated together.  He told me how much he loved me and then placed my ring on my finger.

I was surprised over how emotional I got.  It was like a repeat of our commitment ceremony.  Jonah even joked that he's not a "big baby" like me (which is completely untrue).

The minister asked me if I took Jonah to be my husband.  I resoundingly answered, "I do."  She asked Jonah if he took me to be his husband, and Jonah said, "I do."  And then the minister happily pronounced us married.  And I kissed my guy and gave him a hug.

Then we gave the minister a hug.

And then our friends hugged us.  It was a very exciting a joyous moment.  I also told Jonah later that I felt our deceased parents were with us there.

We had invited Jonah's mother, but she didn't want to go, not because she didn't approve, but because she wanted to stay close to home for the holidays.  She later told us she thought we were going to Salt Lake City and that if she had realized we were going to St. George, she probably would have gone.  I wish she had.  I think it would have been good both for her and Jonah.

After the ceremony, we filled out the official paperwork, signing both our license (the official document) and our marriage certificate (the souvenir document).

Then we filed our document with the clerk's office and the clerk gave us our legal copy and also asked the minister for her name in case other gay couples needed an officiator.  My friend also volunteered his services. 

So Jonah and I are now legally married in Utah. 

After the wedding we all went out for coffee and breakfast (I didn't eat as I had just eaten) and just chatted.  It was really nice. 
The minister didn't charge us for her services, saying it was her pleasure and opted to take one of Jonah's art pieces instead.  That was cool.  Saved us 150 bucks.

Eventually we said goodbye to the minister and our friends from St. George and drove back home.  Boy, were we tired.  When we got home, Jonah and I crashed.

We decided to go see Kristin Chenoweth in concert as a wedding gift to ourselves.  It was a great concert.  She has such an amazing voice.  There were a lot of songs that really felt inspirational to me.  Her last number was a beautiful and simple arrangement of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and once again I could feel Mom smiling down on us.

She also sang "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton, a perfomer Jonah loves.  It just made everything feel right.

I've had several gay friends say legal marriage feels different.  I would have to agree.  I don't know why, but it does.  In my words to Jonah during the ceremony I said that this paper doesn't change the fact that we've been married all this time.  And in many ways, that's true.  But in others, it really does make a difference.

I also like that when I'm filling out applications and such now, I can definitively mark "married" when asked about by marital status.

Life is great!  I couldn't have found a better man to spend my life with.


Dean Scott said...

Congrats - very happy for you and Johan.

Trev said...

Adorable :). Congratulations to you two!