On June 22, almost exactly one year after the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), my partner Anne and I were married in a small ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In so doing, we became part of a tidal wave of ongoing historic change in the United States. May and June, in particular, are significant months for the gay/lesbian community. On June 28, 1969, demonstrators spontaneously took to the streets and fought back against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Stonewall became the pivotal rallying focus for the beginning of the gay rights movement in the U.S. A year later, on June 28, 1970, the first annual Gay Pride marches took place in New York and other cities, spreading around the world in the decades since then. In May of 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to allow legal marriages of same-sex couples. Ten years later, here we are, a married couple, after 31 years together.
People often wonder why we waited ten years. Well, primarily because of the tax complications—we would have had to file differently for state and federal since only one recognized same-sex marriage until DOMA was struck down. Also, marriage had never really been on our radar. It wasn’t something that mattered to us, and we had never thought about it as remotely possible. Over the years, we watched state after state and then the federal government pass acts and laws banning same-sex marriage. We both attended national marches on Washington for gay/lesbian/bi equal rights in 1987 and 1993. Finally, unbelievably, the tide began to turn, thanks to the activism of groups like GLAD, as well as countless courageous individuals, well-known and unknown, who came out in their lives and helped to shift public consciousness. In 2004, marriage became an option for those of us in same-sex relationships in Massachusetts.
As Anne and I attended the weddings of gay and lesbian friends, we were deeply moved by the open-hearted love, sharing, and support that took place. We began to consider the possibility of marrying, not so much for legal reasons but for sentimental ones—to share our love with friends and family. We didn’t want to come to the end of our lives and regret not having experienced something so special and really quite sacred. We also wanted to be part of the amazing, expansive energy that was transforming the world around us. So in January of this year, we decided to get married.
Almost immediately, magic began to stream into our lives. Our dear friend Ji Hyang,who had just moved to California, told us she could fly in and marry us on June 22. Mount Auburn Cemetery, a beloved nearby nature sanctuary, was available for an outdoor wedding ceremony on that date. From California, Nevada, Illinois, Washington, DC, New York, and Massachusetts, friends and family told us that they “wouldn’t miss” being there. So many people offered to help with the wedding and backyard reception that we were moved to tears of gratitude again and again by the generosity and genuine happiness everyone expressed. Even the two clerks at our town hall were excited and welcoming when we applied for our marriage license. They took our picture and sent us off for celebratory ice cream.
So, on the day after the summer solstice, Anne and I awoke to a morning of the most perfect weather imaginable. Blues skies and lush green foliage framed Auburn Lake, where the ceremony took place. Friends who hadn’t seen each other in decades came together in joyful reunion to celebrate our wedding. The ceremony we had created played out in the most wondrous of ways: flute, guitar, songs, poetry, metta (loving kindness), reflections, and vows flowed seamlessly into an exquisite tapestry of love and light. Looking out at the radiant, loving faces that surrounded us, Anne and I felt like we had been lifted to a higher vibration, our hearts overflowing with love. Every hug, every word spoken, every tear shed, was a miracle that opened up into yet another miracle. Toward the end of the ceremony, a sudden strong wind moved powerfully through the trees overhead, as if Spirit were mirroring back our feelings and blessing each and every one of us. It was a day unlike any I have experienced in my lifetime. A day of the extraordinary and the miraculous—and, as several friends told us, “the most beautiful wedding ever.”