Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finally time to get married...

What am I doing today you ask? Well today I've got a wedding to go to, my own.

I've been off the grid these past few weeks running around getting marriage licenses, organising a little wedding celebration and finding something to wear for my big day (plus going to physical therapy three times a week to repair my knee and shoulder, but that's a whole other story).

Groom Groom Wedding figures
I'm not a huge fan of weddings, having always thought that marriage was not an option for me growing up. Most religions preach hate rather than acceptance for gay people, so I'm a bit of an atheist and the spiritual side of things doesn't mean much to me.

Personally I find the whole wedding tradition of mixing of lots of different friends and family who have nothing in common really uncomfortable and unnecessary, and expensive. So today is going to be quick, no fuss and without much formality hopefully (I'm such a romantic aren't I).

When we moved to L.A. over five years ago in March 2008 it was the year that President Obama was elected (one giant step forward for progress), but also the year that Proposition 8 passed in California denying same-sex couples the right to marry (even though 18,000 LGTB couples already had, so two steps back).

We wondered how this could happen in progressive and gay-friendly California, but then we'd also seen all the hateful and misleading ad campaigns financed by religious groups outside the state, falsely claiming that gay marriage would affect the sanctity of marriage and harm families. What utter and total drivel and lies, but the god-fearing folk of California believed them by a slim margin and so this heinous act denying civil liberties was voted in for over four years.

Fortunately the gay community was galvanized by this inequality and fought back getting this law ruled unconstitutional the Chief Judge Vaughan R. Walker in August 2010 (I even attended the West Hollywood Prop H8 victory rally after the verdict), although it still took until June this year to make it through all the appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court to be dismissed and the earlier ruling upheld.

At the same time, and this is where it gets interesting, the U.S. Supreme court was also hearing another case regarding gay inequality brought by 83-year-old lesbian Edie Windsor, who received discriminatory treatment under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when she was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes when her wife died in 2009 (something which a straight married couple wouldn't have to do). In a historical triumph she won the case and got the relevant clauses of DOMA repealed at a Federal level, meaning all gay unions must receive the same benefits and rights as straight marriages (resulting in more fantastic local DOMA and Prop 8 victory celebrations).

So back to me and my partner of almost fourteen years (Charlie). Like other gay couples we'd not been able to get married in California all this time, and upon investigation returning back to the U.K. for a civil partnership took too long, was too costly and frankly didn't give us any rights here in America. Until now that is.

So it's time to finally wed and feel more equal. To have the same rights and be treated with the same respect as straight people.

A weight has been lifted. We can now finally plan for the future and our lives are no longer on hold.
Californian Groom Groom Wedding figures
Hence the happy groom and groom figures under that Californian sky (which are actually filled with delicious chocolates, so best not to let them out in the L.A. sunshine too long).

As you can see above, for us this is more than just a simple wedding day. June was a very good month, but today really does mark the start of a new life together (with our adorable Labrador Cooper of course).

I do, I do, I do...

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