Normally, this would only matter to people who know me and my intended, but this isn’t a usual case. See, I married a man, which means I have a husband.
Thank you, Supreme Court.
It’s taking some time to adjust. Even though I’ve been fighting for this, hoping for this, waiting for this for years, I grew up in conservative America, and it sounds strange to hear a man refer to “my husband,” even when the man is me.
Some people use the term partner or spouse or even lover or boyfriend. I don’t like any of these and refuse to use them. Partner sounds like we’re in business together, and in any case, the term was created back in the late 80s, when the AIDS crisis outed a lot of people, and the LGBT community refused to use the terms husband and wife because the legal system denied both to them. Spouse sounds like I’m trying to hide the gender of the person I’m married to, and after all that fighting, I don’t want to hide, thanks. (It’s still the go-to term when you don’t know the gender of the person in question, or if you don’t know what term the person prefers, of course, but I don’t prefer it.) Lover places the emphasis on sex instead of a full-blown marriage. Boyfriend is not only inaccurate for someone you’re married to, it also sounds like I’m sixteen. So husband, please, and thank you.
Darwin, who is the city manager for Lake Orion Michigan, and I got married in Saginaw, Michigan at the Montague Inn. It was the perfect place for it! Our families and friends arrived in droves for everyone’s first legal gay wedding. I’ve blogged about the arrangements (including how we managed a same-sex marriage in still-conservative Michigan) at my home blog, if you’d like to see, and I’ve posted many photos. But here’s how the ceremony went:
At 3:50, my sons Aran and Sasha (the ushers) opened the Inn’s double doors onto the enormous back patio and announced to the assembled guests that it was time to take their seats. They gestured for Steven on the left and Darwin on the right. We opted for this method instead of the usual escorting in order to seat everyone quickly and minimize waiting in the chilly outdoor air. The weather was mid-forties and alternately cloudy and sunny. Once that was done, Aran and Sasha shut the doors and escorted my mother down the aisle. (We joked about giving her the Iron Throne.)
Then the music cue began. Maksim, very handsome in his tuxedo, came down the aisle with the ring box. Then from the right came Darwin’s brother Matt as one best man, and from the left came my brother Paul as the other best man.
Officiating up front was my cousin Mark. A year ago, Mark had called me to announce that he and his girlfriend Tamara were getting married and would I perform the ceremony? A little flabbergasted, I responded that I’d be honored, and that I had just been talking to Darwin–if and when it became legal for us to marry, we wanted Mark to be our officiant! Mark and I were half laughing, half crying as we agreed to trade ceremonies. As luck would have it, my and Darwin’s wedding landed on the same weekend as Mark and Tamara’s had the year before. Three years ago, my mother remarried, also on this weekend. So all three of us share anniversaries!
Then Darwin came down the aisle, more than handsome. I watched him from my spot in the back to the left and told myself, “Here we go. It’s really happening!”
And then I came down the aisle. It was amazing to see the crowd, all of them people I knew, gathered here in this one place. And then it occurred to me, “Holy cow–these people are here for my wedding!”
Mark did a grand job officiating. For weeks he’d been threatening to dress as Gandalf the Grey, to Darwin’s horror, and I actually had to reassure Darwin that Mark was only kidding. However, Mark did slip two Lord of the Rings references into the ceremony we’d written. Darwin later agreed this was a great thing–it broke up the emotionality of the ceremony and made it easier to get through.
Darwin later said he was fine during most of the ceremony, until it came time for him to say the vows he’d written. He looked at me and saw I was having a hard time not crying, and he broke down right then. I was holding on hard, but when my turn came to speak, I lost it entire. I had to stop for a minute and regain enough control to speak. (Aran later reported that everyone around him was crying, too, and he “almost shed a tear.”)
This is what I said:
Darwin, every year I write hundreds of thousands of words on a screen for other people, and sometimes I make them cry. But these words are written on my heart for you and now they make me cry. I am so grateful for every day we spend together. You have loved me, and cherished me, and strengthened me in more ways than you can ever know. And I swear to love you and cherish you and remain faithful to you, like these words on my heart. I swear by the earth below, and the sky above.
We exchanged rings, an “I do,” and a kiss. And we were married!
–Steven Harper Piziks