Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Great Marriage Debate

The California marriage debate continues:

The news today is not so favourable, but none of it ultimately matters all that much when you really love someone. I may not be equal in eyes of the state but it's okay because I believe that my day WILL come - truly it will. If you'd like to see a more uplifting account of gay marriage, look for We Do, A Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Marriage, forward by Gavin Newsom, edited by Amy Rennert. We recently picked up a copy of this book at Sistahs Steppin' in Pride, the predominantly African-American gay celebration in Oakland. The photos are beautiful, and I especially like the one of the two gay dads with twin babies in front-loaded harness packs, exchanging nuptuals at city hall. It's so "normal". Well, not necessarily normal in my sense of don't-forget-to-feed-the-fish and don't-forget-we-have-a-kid normal, but they look so happy:)

I took time off to witness the first marriages in SF. I wasn't looking to get married at the time, but that was insignificant. It was one of the most moving experiences you can imagine. People stood in lines that wrapped around buildings and blocks and slept in rain-soaked folding chairs. The cheers for each couple who emerged with a marriage certificate in tow never turned monotonous... to the crowd, it was as if each couple was a unique spectacle, unlike riding a rollercoaster time and again when adrenalin fails to peak as high as it ever did on the first run. I saw couples who'd been together for decades. Families with multiple children and more hope than is often realized in a lifetime.

I met a couple of women who came to SF from Visalia. They'd lived in the central valley for most of their lives and had never paid a visit to SF!! As bizarre as that may sound, they were the nicest women you'd meet. They'd been partners for 30+ years and had always hoped that someday they would be spouses. One of them suffered physical problems so sleeping in the rain was especially uncomfortable.

I left City Hall that day and wanted to do something for these women to help commemorate their union. It was only day 2 of the fun but I figured that if they managed to stay until morning, they'd be at the front of the line on the 3rd day. What to do in a situation like this? Emily Post has all sorts of advice on gift registries and other dos and don'ts - and I'm good with color coordination- but what do you get for a couple who threw themselves into their car with about 10 minutes notice, drove from Visalia to Baghdad by the Bay, and has been sleeping on the sidewalk for 2 days?

In short, Chinatown has something for everyone. Rain tarps and interesting wedding cakes. I don't know why the Chinese bakeries often have *actual* wedding cakes in their store windows (who ordinarily goes to a bakery on a whim and orders a wedding cake to-go?), but in Chinatown, it is possible! The only thing that wasn't possible was getting a bride and bride for the topper. In Chinatown, the toppers are make of plastic that can not be separated by any means known to God and so you either end up with one girl in drag (not good for this particular circumstance) or you can opt instead to top the cake with an anime character made of brightly coloured sugary goodness.

I fear I insulted the baker when I left without exercising either option and stopped into the $.99 store across the way in search of a cable car. I found one of those "tourist" collectibles in isle 4 next to the paper-plates-for-any-occasion, but once I put it on top of the cake, it looked rather amazing if I don't say so myself. It was quintessential "SF wedding".

After delivering the cake and going about the rest of my business for the day, I drove by City Hall again around midnight. The women appeared to be sleeping in their chairs on the street and they were damn close to the front of the line. I'm sure they had an unforgettable morning. The thought of it made my heart take a leap from Grinch capacity to a full-on wading pool.

It broke my heart to see those 4,000 marriages reversed. Disposed of. Unrecognized for what actually took place during those days. I didn't marry, but it changed my life.

Still, I was so impressed with mayor Newsom that I named my betta fish after him. Gavie was a great fish (recently passed), and sure, I probably scared the mayor when I sent him a letter explaining that I had this fish and all... but it's not as if I'm a complete loon. (If I'm ever held for 2 days on a routine SF traffic violation though, you'll know the truth.) Ha ha.

What I wanted was something to wake up to each day that reminded me of what is possible in my life and Gavin was that fish. And today is merely a chapter in Greater Things to Come. It's ALL possible.

(On a side note, my folks fly back from their 3 week vacation in Europe tomorrow, so please wish for their safe return!)


Blogger snarfdog said...

That is such a moving story - you made me cry (and laugh too) while reading it.

9:56 PM  

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