Dave and I are going to be getting married in California on June 17th. This will be a full legal marriage. It is not a domestic partnership, nor is it a civil union (we've collected both of those over the years already). Marriage is the end goal. More specifically, it is the the legal license. You see, Dave and I already have been married
for over nine years. Our ceremony, back in 1999, was our wedding, in front of family, friends, and God. What we were going to do in California is getting the legal license to match the reality of our lives. It is an important step; we are citizens of America, after all, and government recognition of our union is important for all kinds of reasons most people never think about.
While we are getting married in California, under full faith and credit our marriage license should be valid anywhere in America, in spite of a (likely unconstitutional) law called "the defense of marriage act" which will hopefully be overturned someday. In the mean time, there are still some questions about the future status of unions like ours. You see, California is one of those strange states that allows any kook with a million bucks to put an initiative on the ballot to take away peoples' fundamental rights, and an amendment against same-sex marriage is on the ballot in November. But that is a matter for the future.
How did Dave and I get here? Well, the California Supreme Court announced their decision in mid-May. As soon as we heard about it, we knew we wanted to get married in California (Massachusetts, which also has same-sex marriage, doesn't allow out of state couples to get married, California does, which is why this is a bigger deal). By lucky coincidence, I was going to be in San Francisco already in mid-June for a work conference. We decided that I would try to stay over a few extra days and Dave would fly out and we would get married. In a flurry of afternoon activity, I made hotel reservations, and made an appointment to get a marriage license at San Francisco's city hall for June 16th, which appeared to be the day that same-sex marriage was actually going to be legal.
Of course, nothing turns out as easy as you expect. The court didn't set a date for their ruling to take effect, and furthermore, the actual bureaucratic instruments of marriage needed to be updated. New forms had to be created, and so forth, and it was all up in the air how long this would take. Finally, the "Christian" groups opposed to equal rights were petitioning the court to issue a stay of its own ruling, which might have caused further delays. In sum, nobody (including state officials) had any idea when people could get married.
In early June, several of these issues were resolved. The state health department decided that marriages would begin on June 17 and set about creating new forms and language. The Supreme Court then clarified the date that marriage would be legal by denying the request for a stay and setting 5 PM on Monday June 16th as the date when marriage could being. This presented a bit of a problem for us (and 43 other couples) who had originally made appointments for June 16. You see, the San Francisco city clerk's office would not allow us to reschedule our appointment for the next day, because all the slots on the 17th had already been filled weeks before.
The middle of June crept ever closer, and we still had no idea if we would be allowed to marry. Of course, the longer we waited, the more expensive flights and so forth became, as well as the more stressful it got to try to make contingency plans for what might turn out to be a last minute trip. Making things even more frustrating, the county clerk's office initially said that the June 16th couples would be accommodated on the 17th, then they changed their minds. Dave was even able to actually call and talk to the county clerk, and we were impressed that this overworked public servant actually took the time to talk to Dave. Her position was that as long as things were in the air implementation wise, that there wasn't much she could do, other the try to be fair to everyone. We gambled on the 16th, but the roulette wheel came up the 17th, so we lost.
Luckily, after the court rejected the stay attempt, the state health department officially declared that as of 5:01 PM on June 16th, same-sex marriage could begin in California. Meanwhile, the San Francisco mayors office worked with the clerks office to expands the resources for conducting marriages the first week, which opened up a large amount of extra slots. All of this happened very fast on Friday June 6th. Dave and I were literally checking the clerk's web site every half hour to see if new appointment slots would open up; all of our plans were in the air until this happened. It was very stressful, to say the least, because we really had to know for sure before dropping a couple grand on a trip to San Francisco (and Mike having to extend his work trip for several extra days).
But, it worked out. New time slots opened, and Dave got our original (invalid) appointment time switched to Tuesday the 17th. This mean that short of a meteor hitting California (the right-wings fantasy!) that we were going to get married on the 17th. So the date is on! Dave made his trip reservations and I changed mine.
Both of us are obviously excited, but it is also going to be stressful. I don't like being gone for such a long time (10 days!) for my work conference (Apple's Developer Conference for anyone interested), but it is also a busy time for me at work, with my team being at the end of a stressful and very busy software release. So I hate being gone during this time. And of course, Dave hates traveling in general. But, this is a once in a lifetime experience. When we had our religious ceremony 9 years ago, we filled out a Jewish marriage contract, called a Ketubah. In one of its clauses, we agreed to seek any legal recognition of our union that we could. And now, finally, we have that chance. Almost undoubtedly, we will be the first gay couple from the state of Kansas to be legally married. We are going to take our Kansas flag with us to SF, so we can show the world that real Kansas values are the same as they were during the Civil War era -- freedom for everybody and equal rights!
I know I haven't posted to this blog much this year, but I will try to keep a day by day diary here as the date approaches, so hopefully at least family and friends can keep up on things! Talk to you soon!
Labels: gay rights, life