Many of you by now have likely heard about Judge Bernard Friedman declaring Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Friday evening in the case of DeBoer v. Snyder and Schuette. Because of this decision and our awesome ally of a County Clerk deciding to open for special hours on Saturday to issue marriage licenses, K and I were one of 142 couples to legally wed in our county that day.
It all happened so fast, but we knew that, even though K was miserably sick and I was doing everything in my power to not succumb to the same illness, we needed to make this happen for our family. We knew that a stay was likely inevitable and that we’d have this very tiny window before another potentially long wait for the rights we all deserve. To that end, we got up early on Saturday morning, hustled to get out the door, and made it to the courthouse about 45 minutes before they opened.
I’m not quite sure what I expected but I was surprised that there weren’t more people already there. There were maybe 30-40 couples in line in front of us and there was enough room for us to squeeze inside the building instead of having to wait in the cold. There was very few members of the media present, despite the historic day. At around 9 a.m., security began letting people through and the line then snaked down a long hallway toward the Clerk’s desks.
A former coworker and her partner were in line behind us and it made the experience even more enjoyable. It was fun to see so many people we knew being able to share an anniversary with us. The Clerk’s staff were all so chipper on their day off, working so hard to make sure as many people as possible could get their licenses before the office closed for the day. We completed our paperwork, paid the fee for the license and to have the clerk preside over our ceremony, and then walked down the long hallway to the County Commissioners’ Auditorium, stopping to change E’s diaper on our way.
When we reached the auditorium, couples had their paperwork confirmed by the Deputy Clerk, and then we were legally wed in a mass ceremony of about 40 couples. It was really meaningful to us that our officiant was The Honorable Lisa Brown, our County Clerk, who had actually been called by the defense in marriage equality case. When she was called to testify, she essentially said that she hated being in the position of having to bar people from accessing the institution of marriage, but had to because that’s what was required of her by law, and that she could not wait to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The words she uttered during our mass ceremony were uplifting, heartwarming, and affirming of the struggle we’ve endured and will continue to endure. K and I kissed each other and then kissed E.
We then waited in a long line to have our paperwork signed by the Clerk and two witnesses. Once that was complete, we walked back down to the other end of the building again to the Clerk’s desks, walking past other couples waiting in line for their chance to legally wed, and were immediately issued our official marriage certificates. Each time a couple emerged with their certificates, the crowd cheered, and though I didn’t know all of them and the circumstances were hardly ideal, it felt like a large, loving family supporting our union.
One of our dear friends, who was there waiting for her own marriage license and certificate, took a photo of us with our official documents and, while she did, a local news station filmed it. They asked for an interview, which I gave, but they thankfully never aired my rambling. They did, however, air at least six seconds of us standing there, having our photograph taken with our marriage certificate, and several of my friends have mentioned seeing it on the news at different times.
Despite the stay being granted only a few hours later, the attorney who represented the Rowse-DeBoers in the marriage equality case is urging families to seek second parent adoptions, as she does not believe the stay will impede their ability to do so. I will be contacting local attorneys in the morning to try to move the process forward for the sake and stability of our family.
I have mixed emotions right now. I am elated that I am now K’s legal wife, though also baffled because, after living through the adoption of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, I never thought I’d see this day. I am heartbroken for the families who continue to wait for the day when they will see equality. I am furious that Attorney General Bill Schuette continues to waste limited state resources on a losing cause, simply so he can kowtow to his party. I am grateful to those like Judge Bernard Friedman and Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, who believe that equality is just. I feel forever indebted to April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who have bravely fought for the rights of their family and so many others. I feel awash in the glow of love and support from my community, friends, and family members.
I have mentioned several times that this union was one of the least romantic set of circumstances one can imagine – snot pouring out of K’s nose, me wearing dirty, day-old jeans and unwashed hair, scrambling to make it in time. Upon further reflection, I’ve decided that sometimes love looks a lot more like loyalty, stability, and protection, and a lot less like passionate romance. We need room for all of this, and more, in our relationships, and I’m so thankful to have it with K.