When Courtney and I were married by Doug Pagitt at Solomon’s Porch in July, 2011, there were no legal documents signed. The State of Minnesota and Hennepin County were not invited to our wedding. Our parents, my kids, other family and friends all celebrated just as joyously as any other wedding (maybe even moreso), and no one asked when we were going to sign the legal contracts required by the state for our marriage to be sanctioned by the government.
I’m guessing that no one thought twice about that because we could get legally married any time we wanted. Many of our friends, however, could not. That meant that their marriage ceremonies, while sacred, did not have the potential to be legal. It was for this reason that Courtney and I decided to forego legal marriage until such time as our GLBT friends were afforded all of the benefits that accrue with a legal marriage. (In Minnesota alone, that was estimated to be 515 benefits.)
We didn’t see this as some great virtuous or noble endeavor. It was, instead, a simple act of friendship for those we know, and solidarity with those we haven’t met yet. Honestly, we didn’t lose much with this decision — a few tax benefits, sure, and there were some other legal hassles around kids and stepkids and insurance and the like. But those were minor inconveniences compared to the second-class citizenship that so many of our friends had to endure.
I wrote a short ebook about my stance, and I wrote about it on the blog. Lisa Miller at the Washington Post didn’t like my position, calling it “retrograde” (and substantiated her position with the brilliant journalistic tactic of getting a quote from my ex-wife).
Other than family and the Pagitts, only two people were invited to our church wedding ceremony in 2011: our dear friends, Rachel and Ratchet. Seven years ago today, they were married by Rev. Mariann Budde — now the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C. — at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis. But they could not be legally married.
Today they can be. In a change that happened with surprising rapidity, marriage equality came to Minnesota over the last 12 months. Courtney and I thought it would be many years before we could be legally marriage alongside our friends. But, in fact, it only took a couple of years.
Last night, we gathered with a few dozen friends at a bar in Minneapolis, drank whiskey, and ate cakes. Today, standing under the Spoon and Cherry Bridge at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Courtney and I will be legally married; Rachel and Ratchet will be legally married; long-time gay rights ally, Jay Bakker, will serve as the witness. Then we’ll go celebrate with a quiet dinner.
I’m thrilled to be legally marrying Courtney, and I’m doubly thrilled to officiate and witness Rachel and Ratchet’s legal marriage.