celebrating 5+ years of marriage in Massachusetts

ring_exchangeFive years ago today, John and I stood before a room full of our friends and family to express our commitment to each other, exchange rings, and celebrate our love.

We didn’t get married that day, though. This was a day of ceremony and festivities to supplement our rather unceremonious entry into the state of legal marriage almost 5 years earlier.

The reasons for our 1999 wedding-that-wasn’t-quite-a-wedding are a story for another day, and one that I have briefly told before.

While we had planned to have the wedding ceremony soon after the legal marriage, it wasn’t until 2004 that the pieces finally fell together. Meanwhile, in May of 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legally recognize same-sex marriage. We were very pleased with this news, and I feel real pride in my adoptive state about this issue.

John and I are not exactly religious. (This may actually be an understatement.) As such, we don’t belong to any church or other religious organization. However, as religion is an important part of the lives of many people who are important in our lives, I wanted to have our wedding be at least spiritual, if not overly religious.

When it came time to pick an officiant for our own wedding ceremony, I also wanted to find a person who supported marriage equality.

I remember driving past Unitarian Universalist churches displaying rainbow flags and messages supporting same-sex partners. Living in rural Massachusetts, in an area where churches and even some homes will sometimes display sayings of hellfire and damnation, it made me smile to see the progressive messages so boldly and proudly displayed.

Not only did the UU church support marriage equality, but members of the Unitarian Universalist church fought actively to bring about the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Choosing a minister from a Unitarian Universalist congregation seemed a clear choice, and it was one that I was very happy with.

Our wedding ceremony added something to our relationship. To have a joyous celebration that we shared with our friends and family, a public acknowledgement of our commitment, was a rite that I appreciated in ways that are hard for me to pinpoint. Our legal marriage, on the other hand, added things to our relationship that are easy to identify. The possibility of being able to share a health insurance policy, for a start. Plus many other rights and benefits:

There are over 1,400 rights that come from being legally married in the eyes of the government. (source)

I am happy to be married, both for the symbolic union with the partner that I love, and for the benefits that this union affords us.

I am also happy to live in a place where couples are not denied the right to marriage based on their gender.

                    777px-Gay_flag White Knot

30 thoughts on “celebrating 5+ years of marriage in Massachusetts

  1. Lovely story.

    We are also not religious. When we got married, I asked an Episcopal priest who is a friend if he would marry us. I told him that I was uncomfortable about the religious bit – to his very great credit, he agreed to use the vows we wrote, and not utter any religious stuff. However, he showed up with his big priest dress and stuff and during the (4 minute) ceremony, wrapped his “scarf” around our hands. At that point, both Will & I were sure that he was going to say something – but he didn’t, out loud anyway. Incidentally, he’s gay – and scampered off to Canada a couple of years ago to marry his long time partner.

  2. I love the way you did the marriage bit. We were married very quietly and never had the party — I am looking forward to a big celebration of the 50th anniversary — in, gulp, four years.
    And I too admire the Unitarian Church for a lot of reasons, not least, in our community, its care for the very old.

    1. You should totally have the party, Mary!

      And I would recommend the way we did our marriage and wedding. It was so nice to have the wedding not be associated with the stress of a major life change. I think it allowed us to enjoy the celebration more.

  3. Whatever the date that you consider to be when you actually got hitched, have to say that yours and John’s marriage appears to be a very happy and fruitful one. :)

    1. Thanks, Leslie.

      I didn’t write about it here, but Prop 8 really gets me down, as well. Massachusetts is my adoptive state, but California is my native one. I was completely shocked by the whole Prop 8 business.

  4. Happy anniversary! This is a beautiful post.

    I agree with Leslie… having recently “repatriated” to my home state of California (I have always considered myself more Californian than American), I am still not just ashamed of California for passing Prop 8, but actually a bit heartbroken about it. It was really upsetting to have that happen at the same time that I was rejoicing that Obama had been elected.

    I myself may someday want to marry someone (though I have no idea whether that someone will be male or female), but the idea of doing so in a state that does not recognize everyone’s right to marry the one they love is hard to swallow.

    In fact, I have a straight friend who married her partner solely for the health insurance benefits (she is pregnant and was unemployed at the time, so health insurance was a necessity (of course, when isn’t it? but that’s a separate post for my still non-existent blog)). She remains furious that she was forced to do so even though it meant going against her intention of never marrying until everyone could. She has not even told her parents about it, because she does not consider herself married.

    So congratulations on being married in a state that recognizes all couples!

    Oh, and I like the UU church too. I appreciate its stance not only on gay marriage but on social justice in general and its emphasis on community involvement and activism. However, like you and John, I’m not religious myself (I think of myself as a spiritual atheist Jew–which does not make me ineligible to join UU, though).

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sally, and for sharing these bits about yourself. The Prop 8 voting results were indeed heartbreaking.

      UU, on the other hand, rocks as a religious organization. I love it that the status of being “a spiritual atheist Jew” doesn’t make one ineligible to join.

      I also really appreciate you sharing that story about your friend. And yes, when isn’t health insurance a necessity?

      So, when will your non-existent blog come into existence?

    1. Thanks, Painted! I’m glad you liked the story. And while I already knew about your support for marriage equality, I appreciate you sharing it again here!

  5. This is a wonderful story (especially in light of Molly’s suggestion that I consider a secret marriage to AC …).

    As a New Yorker, I continue to be disgusted by my state’s inability to make same-sex marriage legal. My governor keeps threatening to push for it, waving the threat around like a club to get certain people all upset, but then he does nothing. It maddens and shames me that New York doesn’t have legal same-sex marriage.

    I used to visit a UU church in Manhattan because they had an excellent lunch time lecture series and they were close to my job at that time. I have rarely felt so welcomed and at home in a church. They have a good vibe going, for sure.

  6. Congratulations! (from a 100% stranger) I love this post. A thank-you from someone trapped in the Midwest suburbs and traveling to Cambridge on a regular basis for work, wishing she were living there because then she’d be “normal” and not weird for being a liberal…

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