Sometimes life is a real trip. Sometime mid-day on June 25th, my beloved pings me on our office instant messenger sending me a link to our local newpaper, the Indy Star. I sat in disbelief as I read the article and soon found myself re-reading the second sentence over and over. It said gay couples are able to marry “immediately.” Immediately! And immediate wasn’t soon enough for me.
I pinged my beloved back asking if it was real. I then spent the next 20 minutes at my desk weeping as discretely as I could. Everyone knew it was an historical moment. But being a Hindu has taught be that knowing isn’t enough unless it’s coupled with some form of experience. Knowing history is being made is entirely different when you’re directly affected by that making. It shook me to my core to read that – immediately – I could go marry the person I’ve loved and felt married to for over a decade already. All the benefits (and misery!) heterosexual couples have known (and too often taken for granted) were finally something others had to legally recognize as mine too. Whether the validity of my marriage is affected by legal recognition is not the point. The truth doesn’t change with legal recognition – if gay marriage was never legalized in my lifetime, then it would still not affect the validity of my marriage to Wayne. But the truth of my life commitment is now legally protected and knowing that, I sat at my desk with wet eyes and trembling hands.
As soon as I could get a grip, I messaged him back with something to the effect of, “Let’s go do this RIGHT NOW.” He balked at the offer. The next twenty minutes of communication between us was an unfortunate back-n-forth wherein I practically begged him to leave our office with me and go get legally married … and him offering excuse after excuse for why we shouldn’t right then. He’s nowhere nearly as impulsive as I am and at one point he said he wanted to plan ahead – to which I replied that all I’ve done is plan ahead and ten years is more than enough time. The truth of all that is simply that he’s not wanting to make the evening news in any way and he also knew well that there would be push-back from the local conservatives which could ultimately mean our marriage would be negated and he didn’t want to run to get something that was possibly going to be taken right back from us. That’s fair enough, but a compromise had to be reached: If we weren’t going right then, then we’d definitely be going soon otherwise. I told him I was hurt and didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
That evening we met back at home but there was nothing to discuss really: He got what he wanted in the first round and now it was my turn. We went to our county’s courthouse and quickly found out that they weren’t offering the same extended hours as the main county of Indianapolis. In the process though, we met an officer on duty that night who was friendly to us. He explained that we should go to the local government website to be prepared with whatever we might need to bring and advised us that the building would reopen the next day at 0830. This officer was far friendlier than the other cop on duty right then and as he spoke to us I wondered to myself just why… could he be gay, too? Yes, he could be. And indeed he is. Shortly after tearing a scrap of paper from a binder he carried and writing on it the web address we should review, he let us know that he and his spouse have been together 26 years already and were married in New York when they were first able. We congratulated him and he wished us luck.
We went home and chatted for a couple hours with the Best before sleeping. The next day, bright and early, we awoke and rushed to the courthouse. Others had beaten us to the Clerk’s office that morning. A couple would check in at the window, handing over their driver’s licenses and $20. They were then advised to sit at one of two computers and fill out the official application – which still offered only bride/groom settings. After completing that application, the waiting began. There were nearly a dozen couples ahead of us, including one heterosexual couple. As the names of the couple were called to come back faces lit up with smiles and a few minutes later, when the couples came back out into the lobby, cheers and soft applause were awarded to them. In our case, we were the second-to-last couple to be called back and while we were in the back, the last couple was called. As it happened, we finished before the last couple and so as we re-entered the lobby there was no one to cheer for us… Something just fine with us both, actually.
We’d learned earlier that morning that the Magistrate was performing weddings at 1100 and 1500 for another $80. We weren’t sure we wanted to do it right then, but at the last minute decided to go for it. We went to the first scheduling and there were about eight other couples there also. We were the sixth newly weds that morning. The first couple to go was a lesbian couple who had clearly planned for the moment with semi-formal dresses, a friend to be with them, and a wedding bouquet. When they came back from having gone before the judge, everyone congratulated them (something that happened with every couple). There was no one to toss the bouquet for, so instead they passed the bouquet along to the next couple. And, in turn, as each couple exited the court room and was congratulated, they passed the bouquet to the next couple due in.
Some people wouldn’t be okay with that, but I found myself really touched and very glad to have the used bouquet. It seemed to symbolize the similar journey and struggle each of us as a couple had undergone leading up to that moment. By the time the flowers reached us, they were definitely beginning to fall apart, but I found that symbolic to: Sometimes when the goal is reached there’s less of you than there was on the journey before that moment. Some of of the couples were actually pretty old. I imagine they felt like the flowers that were beginning to wilt, and yet the moment was no less. The moment wasn’t about being dressed nice (one couple was in shorts and flip-flops!). The moment wasn’t about being old or young. It wasn’t about a hand-me-down bouquet. It was about so much more!
Of course, the battle clearly isn’t over. The recent ruling really only means that the United States, as a nation, will recognize my relationship with legal protections. Locally, however, the battle’s not over as a stay was put into place only a couple days after the ban was struck down as unconstitutional. They stay will put things on pause until the matter is settled at the state level. The weddings that were performed before the stay happened are effectively in legal limbo – and why not? My marriage to someone of the same gender definitely poses a threat to different-gender marriages everywhere and also the very foundation of civilization.
It’s likely that when the appeal finally makes its way to court the result will be that Indiana will fully recognize hetero AND homo marriages. Maybe then, once the coast is truly clear and we can be sure this hard-earned equality won’t be taken back from us, we’ll have a ceremony of sorts (of the Hindu sort?) and a reception.
Until such time, the support the Beloved and I have received has been touching – to say the least. Shortly after going before the Magistrate the Beloved and I were in Minnesota visiting a friend who is super dear to me and his wife (who I had no idea would end up being so immensely dear to me!) and very unexpectedly received our very first wedding gift – a lovely framed thing from the Target Corporation which is, by far, one of the best things ever. Immediately upon returning from Minnesota we were due to meet my parents and siblings for a family vacation – during which more than one member of my tribe, including the Best, conspired behind our backs to provide us “official” wedding cake complete with two groom. And just this last weekend, my favorite Hindu “bahin,” Bhoomika, and her mother sent us wedding gifts, too – a “scroll” to hang on our wall and sweaters knitted by Bhoomi’s mother’s mother.
The Beloved and I are likely to still celebrate our “real” anniversary which is June 2nd and not our wedding anniversary which is June 26th – although we’ll celebrate that, too. (He thinks I just want a fancy dinner out twice! LOL) By the time we were married, we’d already invested over a decade of our current lives into June 2nd and that’s our real anniversary.
Since getting married, a number of people have asked if “married life” is different than before. I wanted to respond with something like, “Had we not been “married” for a decade already prior to getting married, the answer might be yes.” In truth, all newly-granted legal protections aside, hetero and homo marriages are the same. Obviously. So the real answer, at any rate, would quite simply be “no.” 🙂
P.S. The following post will be almost entirely pics taken of some of the things mentioned above.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha