No, the fashionably haloed dudes pictured above
are not Ray and Charlie, but SS. Sergius and Bacchus, martyrs.
Pioneering gay scholar John Boswell's attention to early Greek
manuscripts reveals that they were erastai, or lovers. In Christian
liturgies down through the centuries that bless same sex unions,
they are invoked as the archetype, the model for same sex relationships.
RITES | MARRIAGE RIGHTS I:
MY BIG FAT GAY WEDDING
RAYMOND J. AGUILERA
me say right off the bat that I'm afraid to even write about this.
It's been said that no good deed goes unpunished, and it seems
like that goes double for queer folk. You see, I've got good newsno,
great news. My partner and I got married. On February 13. The
day before Valentine's day (Here's the part where you go "Awww!"
and think warm fuzzies at how cute we are.) But I'm not sure I
want to talk about it, the getting married.
Here's the thing. As
soon as queers start talking about their relationships publicly,
bad things always happen.
Ellen & Anne. One minute,
they're the "it" lesbos and everybody loves them. Then they publicly
acknowledge their relationship. Next thing you know, Anne gets picked
up by the cops in the middle of nowhere, tripping on ecstacy and
talking about god. Ellen gets kicked to the curb. Anne is now straight.
And married. To a guy.
Melissa and Julie. Every
dyke's favorite couple. They have babies. Their family makes the
cover of "Rolling Stone." Shortly after that, they split.
So, no way! Not me! I'm
not telling you a damn thing about me or my wedding. Well, OK. Maybe
just a little.
The event was (somewhat)
unplanned. We had talked about getting married before, but never
really did anything about it. That was fine for a while, but then
I started to worry. Had I ruined a good romantic opportunity by
not formally popping the question? At the beginning of February,
I went out and bought a ring, not quite sure when or how I planned
to propose. I figured it was a step in the right direction at least.
Less than a week later, the Mayor of San Francisco ordered the City
Clerk's office to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Thursday, February 12, the first legally married couples started
streaminng out of city hall, and everyone was all a-twitter over
what was going on.
Friday afternoon Michael
and I talked about what was happening. In a roundabout sort of way
we both hinted at the possibility of tying the knot. We hemmed and
hawed, and no one really came out and said what was on both of our
minds. We dilly-dallied for a while, and then finally the question
came out: "Do you wanna do it?" (I know, I know, the romance of
it all is just killing you, huh?)
And we were off! I work
about fifteen minutes from City Hall, while Michael was about a
half-hour drive away. I ran out of the office, eager to get in line,
unsure of how long the marriages would continue to be possible.
When I arrived on the scene I would guess that about 600 people
were in line. Everyone was anxious and excited. Would we get a marriage
license before something happened to force city hall to stop issuing
them? Already two lawsuits were in the works from "pro-family" organizations,
and no one knew how long the ceremonies would be allowed to continue.
After about five hours
in line, we were issued a marriage license and had a quick ceremony
on the grandiose marble staircase inside San Francisco's Beaux Arts
city hall. Earlier in the day I had asked Bob Guter if he'd be willing
to conduct the ceremony for us. While we waited in line, Bob was
at home becoming a man of the cloth through the wonders of the Internet.
Due to the chaos in city hall, and the tenuous legality of the licenses
that were being issued, we decided it would be best (if a little
impersonal) to see the process through right then and there so we
could be sure our marriage was properly recorded by the City of
Now it's a week later.
Married life is, well, married life. Our commitment to each other
hasn't changed all that much, but I do have to say that officially
doing the deed has put a spring in both of our steps. It feels fantastic
to have participated in something that will surely go down in history,
one way or the other. And, even though I always said that the legal
aspects of marriage were inconsequential, I find myself peeking
in the envelope that holds our marriage certificate every once in
a while, and it makes me feel good.
Now we've got a President
taking a stand against gay marriage. Bush likes to put the necessity
for a constitutional amendment on the actions of the City of San
Francisco (all the better to incite rabid support from the right),
but anyone who's been paying attention noticed that conservative
organizations began crowing about presidential commitment to an
amendment before any of this happened in SF. He's defending the
American family and the "sanctity" of marriage. What about my
American Family or the sanctity of my marriage? Oh, and not just
by the way, why is the state defending the "sanctity" of anything.
Isn't that the business of religion?
I don't know what will
happen. San Francisco continues to marry same-sex couples, and the
universe hasn't collapsed. Heterosexual marriage isn't in peril,
and if it is, it hasn't got a damned thing to do with me and Michael,
or any of the other 3,000 couples that have married so far. All
I know is that come hell, high water, or constitutional amendment,
my husband and I are married. Conservatives can piss and moan all
they want, and nothing will change that. Our commitment to each
other will endure, and for those that feel that a marriage only
counts if it is "legal," well, we've got the paperwork to prove
it. They can declare the marriages invalid if they want, but my
marriage isn't contained in that piece of paper, even if I do get
a little giddy when I look at it.
AFTERTHOUGHT: In light of Bush's decision to push
for a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage, I decided
to see if I could receive a greeting from the White House in honor
of my recent nuptials. According to the published guidelines, my
request meets all of the requirements necessary to receive an official
wedding greeting from the President of the United States. I'll keep
you posted. Of course, the real question is: why is our tax money
being wasted on a "Greetings Office" and why does my tax
money not entitle me to receive a greeting? (which is what
I am guessing will be the case). I'll probably end up with a SWAT
team at my door or something. Just married? Wanna try yourself?
Here's how: http://www.whitehouse.gov/greeting/
© 2004 Raymond J. Aguilera
RITES | MARRIAGE RIGHTS II:
A PICTURE ABOVE THE FOLD
on being one of San Francisco's newlyweds!
12 February, my partner Dan and I headed to the county clerk here
in Madison, Wisconsin to do the same thing, together with nine
Of course we were
rejected. Our county clerk was really a class act the way he handled
it, though. I have immense respect for him. Here's what surprised
me: I thought it would be important, yes, but in some ways just
another act of civil disobedience. In fact it turned out to be an
incredibly emotional experience for both of us.
On the same day,
the lower house of our state legislature was holding public hearings
on a resolution to amend the Wisconsin state constitution to bar
same-sex marriage or anything else that grants substantially equal
status and rights to other than one man and one woman. So, we went
and testified against that bill as well.
Testimony was equally
split pro and con, with about 100 people testifying on each side.
It was polite (in a way that only midwesterners can be polite) but
ugly. For many participants, it was their first personal exposure
to true hatred. While we were not the appointed poster-couple
for the campaign, we found our pictures above the fold on the front
page in one local paper on Thursday, below the fold on the front
page in the other paper on Friday morning, and in a couple of other
papers, buried in the news section.
Three things are
1) The whole experience
was way more emotional than I ever dreamed it would be, even though
I'm used to being rather forthright and unafraid.
2) I have gotten
supportive comments from people in my life I had never dreamed would
be supportive. We do build bridges, one person at a time, in the
most unexpected quarters.
3) More than ever
before, it's amazing how much uncomfortable silence there is around
Despite (or maybe
because of) this strange and unexpected mixture of emotions and
reactions, I am exceedingly optimistic.
© 2004 Charlie
As if holding
down a job while completing his graduate degree in Human Sexuality
weren't challenge enough, Ray Aguilera must now face the exigencies
of wedded bliss. Charlie Squires, age 40, was born and raised on
Long Island, New York. He lives with his partner of more than eleven
years in Madison, Wisconsin where he is a software developer. Ray
and Charlie insist that they are not members of some cultish cadre
of cerebral palsy queers intent on bringing down the government
through random acts of public love.
Title design ©
2004 Mark McBeth, IDEA | MONGER
Original painting by Robert Lentz: http://www.bridgebuilding.com/catalog/rl1.html
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