On Saturday, my partner and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary. On August 26, 2003 we were formally and legally married in Victoria, British Columbia. I thought that I would take the opportunity that this event presents to deviate a bit from my usual entomology and ecosystems maunderings and write a bit more personally.
The ceremony took place on a rocky shore overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we could see the Olympic Mountains in Washington on the horizon. The ceremony was performed by the Canadian equivalent of a justice of the peace, called a marriage commissioner. I loved that: this person is someone who "commits" marriage. It was not a long ceremony. We read poems by Whitman, and I read a piece from Stephanie Mills" In Service of the Wild comparing acts of ecological restoration (something that my partner and I have done together the whole time we have been coupled) and the love that people have for one another. The poem that we read jointly, from Leaves of Grass, reflects the fact that we have been bound together not only by our love for each other, but by our love for the prairie:
The prairie grass dividing
Its special odor breathing
I demand of it
The spiritual corresponding
Demand the most copious and close
Companionship of men
Afterwards, the friends who served as our witnesses joined us for high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. I offer that detail for those who feel that I have insufficient points on my gay card.
When we first married, many people asked us if we felt "different" now that we had tied the knot. We usually respond in the negative- that we have, in fact, been married for a long time now, and this was just a formality. I’ve been amused by a lot of the rhetoric coming from the gay right about the value of marriage as a social engineering project to "settle down" gay men into stable relationships. It’s particularly ironic to me that we, two left of center gay guys, came together into a stable relationship out of our love for one another. We have maintained it in part through our own senses of personal responsibility (a characteristic erroneously claimed by the political right as their own exclusively). At the same time, a bunch of gay folks on the right politically are pushing the government to step in and function in a way that, in other situations, they decry as "the nanny state." We did just fine for around two decades before tying the knot, thank you, and settling ourselves down was not among our goals when we married.
We married because we wanted to. We married because we (finally) could. Above all, we married because we love each other. Unfortunately, we did not marry to get any of the legal benefits because, alas, Illinois shows no sign of moving towards recognizing our marriage. And as for the federal government- well, with global warming, I don’t see signs of Hell freezing over any time soon.
Next posting, back to bugs and slugs.