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To Marry or Not to Marry in Connecticut

To Marry or Not to Marry in Connecticut

On October 10th, the State of Connecticut Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage; I am now legally able to marry my partner. As I stood in the center of my kitchen holding a bottle of wine and a box of Thin Mints, the first thought that crossed my mind was, 'Oh my God, gays can get married,' followed by, 'Oh my God, I can get married.'

On October 10th, a message on my home answering machine informed me that the State of Connecticut Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage; I am now legally able to marry my partner and entitled to the same rights afforded heterosexual couples and their families.

As I stood in the center of my kitchen holding a bottle of wine and a box of Thin Mints, the first thought that crossed my mind was, “Oh my God, gays can get married,” followed by, “Oh my God, I can get married.” I have never before been struck by such equal yet opposing forces as complete joy and utter panic in the breadth of a single answering machine message.

For years, I knew there was a lawsuit pending the State Supreme Court petitioning the rights of same sex couples in the state of Connecticut to marry. I knew that someday there would be a decision, and I believed the legislature would pass. But none of this prepared me for that message.

During the nine years my partner and I have been together -- and in truth, for as long as I can remember -- I have never seriously considered the act of traditional marriage as a path I wanted to set a single foot upon. I just never saw the point. It is not for a lack or fear of commitment.

For the past year, my partner and I have raised her now two-and-a-half year old nephew, a blessing that like any child has, at times, bonded us closer together and at times driven us further apart. We share our home, as well as most every aspect of our lives. I know my partner better than anyone else in her life; I like to think she knows the same about me. I know the story behind every scar on her body. She’s mapped the terrain of my moods. I know that when she sings, only her left eyebrow arcs toward her hairline. She knows not to touch me while I’m sleeping. To me, it is not the act of marriage that is the romantic and sacred bond between two people; it is the shared history between two hearts. I am already married. I do not need a piece of paper to tell me that.

Do not misunderstand me. I do not take lightly the fact that within the very near future, I will be legally able to obtain a marriage license and wed my partner. I do not pretend to know the emotional, financial, or physical hardship endured by the plaintiff couples, lawyers, legislators, and community advocates that made same-sex marriage in the state of Connecticut possible, nor can I begin to thank them for transforming the idea that I could marry the woman that I love into a reality. Like many, I did not take advantage of the legalized civil unions granted in the State of Connecticut; critics charging that civil union -- that equal yet separate of all unions -- is unconstitutional.

I would make the formal commitment to my partner only when the state recognized sex-sex marriage. I do not take what they have done for granted. Thank you. I know I am lucky. But sudden freedom can sometimes startle even the most liberal thinkers. For someone who considered the realms of traditional marriage off limits, I suddenly find myself in uncharted territory. Now that I have been granted the legal right to call my partner my wife, do I take advantage of it solely for the reason that I can, or do I maintain that marriage is a bond to be felt, not proven; that marriage is a matter of the heart.

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Over the years, I have attended dozens of weddings, in one form or another, either as guest, employee, or participant. I watched my sister marry her husband on the steps of my grandmother’s house. I drove three hours, deep into the mountains of Massachusetts to see an old roommate -- a woman I had not seen, let alone spoken to in over two years -- marry her college sweetheart.

I even sobbed like a drunken fool while reading at the wedding ceremony of my two best friends. I have been a banquet waitress, bachleorette party coordinator, bridesmaid, and even a maiden of honor. I have sat and stared straight ahead as a pair of thick-fingered paws slopped up my inner thighs in search of that never-placed-nearer-to-my-crotch garter belt. I have caught the bouquet. I have seen family members brawl, a teenage wedding party refused their champagne toast, and a bride caught with a groomsmen beneath the cake table. I, myself, have dropped the cake.

Yet throughout all those early morning ceremonies and late night receptions, throughout all the church services, picture posing, and limousine toasts, what I have never seen -- what I have never imagined -- is my own wedding.

Although I cannot picture my own wedding day, I have dreamed of it many times. My dress is ripped. My hair is a mess. My best friends are stuck in traffic, and worse yet, my bride-to-be is missing-in-action. I have stood at the altar and dreaded the fact that my mother is absent, my father present, that my partner is deaf and cannot hear me when I repeat our vows. I have waited outside a church for a dress that never came, searched high and low for the forgotten ring. I have stood at the reception, not knowing a single person and watched as someone else dropped the cake. So I have a little anxiety. Call me a modern girl.

But none of this ever mattered. Not to me. None of this mattered, at least until same-sex marriage was passed in Connecticut. Now my answering machine is full. As I skim through the messages, erasing calls from job recruiters and the reminders that I am now due for my yearly dental cleaning, I count seven new messages. Seven.

“So, kids, when’s the big day?” “Have any announcements yet?” My two best friends call to say “it’s about damn time.” One close friend called to tell me that I better speak with the rest of our circle and agree upon a suitable date for a mass wedding; she’s broke and can’t afford to “fly in for more than one of these things.” I save the messages for my partner then hit repeat and play them again.

And now I can just make out the edge of the water lapping the dark beach below, the chimes sing as wind whips across the cliffs, torch flames flicker behind me as the warm contours of my partner’s palm cup my hand. Or maybe leaves crunch underfoot, fallen from the shedding trees, blown about the grass beneath our bare feet, the glint off my partner’s finger, her ring struck by the autumn sun. It doesn’t matter. The point is, maybe now I can sharpen the blurred edges of a ceremony, a reception, and a heavily supported cake. Maybe now I can see more than the periphery, maybe the legal right to marry is the lens that will bring everything else into focus.

Now the question that remains is not if or when I can marry, but do I want to marry? Thanks to a number of courageous and dedicated people who believed that equality means equality for all, I now have the choice, and choice is a beautiful thing.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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