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.

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MARRIAGE RITES | MARRIAGE RIGHTS I:
MY BIG FAT GAY WEDDING

BY RAYMOND J. AGUILERA

 

Let 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 news—no, 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 San Francisco.

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

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MARRIAGE RITES | MARRIAGE RIGHTS II:
A PICTURE ABOVE THE FOLD

BY CHARLIE SQUIRES

 

Congrats, Ray, on being one of San Francisco's newlyweds!

On Thursday, 12 February, my partner Dan and I headed to the county clerk here in Madison, Wisconsin to do the same thing, together with nine other couples.

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 remarkable:

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 me.

Despite (or maybe because of) this strange and unexpected mixture of emotions and reactions, I am exceedingly optimistic.

© 2004 Charlie Squires

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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.

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Title design © 2004 Mark McBeth, IDEA | MONGER
Original painting by Robert Lentz: http://www.bridgebuilding.com/catalog/rl1.html


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BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/March 2004