the legal leap

wedding in the sky

(photos by .ariel)

Three years ago on the spring equinox, Ben and I had a big fabulous commitment ceremony. Surrounded by friends and family we made promises to spend a lifetime together. It was a wonderful perfect day.

Before the ceremony, we spent a lot of time explaining our reasons for not getting legally married. Since then thousands have people have read about our decision via our friend Ariel’s Offbeat Bride book and website.

Thus, many people may be surprised to hear that today in the downtown Seattle Municipal Court, Ben and I stood in front of a judge and became husband and wife. Although it was a joyful occasion, it was not an easy decision. We still feel strongly that the institution of marriage is not what we wish it was. Ultimately we decided that marrying one another is, for us, the right thing to do for the baby we’re expecting in about five months.

Marriage is the most direct way to ensure that we share full custody of our child and we both have total authority to make legal and medical decisions on his or her behalf. Marriage ensures that I can continue to freelance and stay on Ben’s insurance, along with the baby, wherever he ends up working in the future. Marriage ensures that if something terrible happened to me, Ben would have unquestioned legal rights to our child. Marriage will also help us at tax time and making smart fiscal decisions seems all the more important now that the expenses of raising a child are close upon us.

We resent the fact that homophobia continues to prevent these basic rights from being available to all families in this country, but at the end of the day we simply can’t risk allowing our personal beliefs or politics to have detrimental effects on our baby — at least not when we can choose otherwise. We are consciously taking advantage of our privilege as a woman and a man. We can only hope that the institution of marriage will continue to evolve and that perhaps we can help that process along by continuing to challenge homophobia, gender role assumptions, religious persecution, and other forms of oppression in our relationship and in our lives.

We want to be clear that we don’t feel any more committed to each other now than we did before we were married. We were in it for life three years ago, and we will continue to celebrate our commitment ceremony as our anniversary. Nevertheless, making sacred promises to one another once again was a beautiful experience, and we want to shout out a big thank you to Ariel and Saundrah for being our lovely witnesses. In fact, thanks to everyone who has supported us for the past three amazing years! We know how lucky we are, and we love you all.

making it official

28 thoughts on “the legal leap

  1. Oh Em Gee!

    Here’s your super girlie-girl comment….you guys, congrats!!!

    I’ll put my political 2 cents on my LJ post about you guys.

    WOOOO! Go team you guys! xoxoxoxo

  2. Congratulations (again).

    And you guys are wonderful, the sea monkey is so lucky to have two parents as caring, thoughtful and responsible as the two of you.

    love to the three of you.

    -jen

  3. Even though I share your feelings about marriage as an institution, being married and open-minded is just another way to spread the word and raise awareness for a change that needs to happen. Congratulations!

  4. Congrats – I know it couldn’t have been an easy decision, but I respect all the more for doing what is right for you.

    continued happiness to both (ahem all) of you!~

  5. Ben and I stood in front of a judge and became husband and wife…

    uno question, just curious: before the “legal” ceremony, did you refer to each other as husband & wife? will you do so now?

  6. Good question. We usually refer to each other as “my partner”, and I plan to continue to do that most of the time. But over the past three years we’ve definitely also used “husband” and “wife” as shorthand with strangers or anyone who might not understand what we mean by “partner.” It’s not that I care if anyone assumes that my partner is of the same gender. It’s just that sometimes using that term opens the door to more questions that I don’t always feel like bothering to answer — in spite of my compulsion as a writer toward clear communication.

    It will be interesting to see if we lean more heavily toward husband and wife now. The terms do have sort of a new excitement to them.

  7. Congratulations guys! It’s like you’re getting hitched all over again.
    Of course, from where I’m standing you all have been married for the past three years all along – the commitment ceremony was the most important part of the journey – you had/have the blessings of all your friends and family – now you have the blessings of our government. It’s just “legal” stuff but I understand the decision you made – it was bigger than the both of you. Anyway – welcome to the wonderful world of the “legally” married. We love you guys!
    Good luck!

  8. Happy Anniversary! I love you guys and support any decision you make because you guys are so conscious, righteous and awesome. I am not surprised you made this rather difficult decision because…OMG you’re having a baby!

    A weird side note: We have mass daffodils popping up in our yard and I was enjoying their happy awesomeness today and thinking what a beautiful bridal bouquet they would make. And they do!

    XOXOXOXO

  9. Howdy, newby here. Linked by the gracious and wonderful goodness of Miss Nix.

    I’m a gay guy, and thanks for standing up for equal rights for all peoples. Congratulations – you two are going to be fantastic parents and wonderful examples for your little person (who will become a great grown up)… so.. Congrats, thanks, I think you’re wonderful and you’ve got a new reader. :)

    FLF

  10. Hey there,

    Another first time poster here. My partner and I have been struggling with the issue of getting legally married for quite a while now. I read Ariel’s book when it first came out and found such relief in your story of a hetero couple choosing to not get legally married because of the same beliefs that my partner and I have. At the time we had decided not to legally marry. We were also living in NYC, surrounded by a supportive culture that would allow us to become domestic partners and receive many of the same benefits as legally married couples.

    We have since moved and are now in a state that only recognizes couples who are legally married. So, mostly because of a need to maintain health insurance, we have decided to legally marry in the summer–which is when we planned on marrying anyway. Well, this long winded story was mostly just a way to say a very grateful thank you. Thank you for posting this update, because I have still been warring with feelings of sadness and guilt that I feel so compelled to marry for selfish reasons. Your reasons are bigger than mine, but it’s so helpful to know that there are other couples out there who have gone through similar circumstances. I have felt like I have abandoned a cause that I feel very strongly about. But your post reminded me that having to do what is right for myself and my partner is not abandoning the cause of marriage rights and equal rights. Thank you again!

  11. I’m so moved by all these comments. Welcome FLF! And thank you calendar girl. I’m glad hearing our experience was helpful. I think the thing we all have to acknowledge is that there are many powerful and concrete reasons why gay couples want the right to get married. It’s not just symbolic. There’s only so much you can accomplish with powers of attorney and domestic partnership, and many states are outlawing or trying to undermine even these tools. Full marriage equality is the only way, and everybody deserves that. When those of us with privilege find the sacrifice required for solidarity too great, we can acknowledge it as a reminder of why the fight is so important.

  12. So, I don’t get to make a cake? No tea sandwiches or nothing? You two would be in so much trouble if you weren’t making me a grandmother. No, honestly, Once I understood your choice three years ago I respected you both so much for taking what is most assuredly the path less traveled. I have seen your love grow during the challenges of these last three years and I couldn’t be prouder of you both. The decision you made for the wee bairn is an act of love, the first of many sacrifices you will find yourself making when Thumper is thrust into your arms in a few months. Oh, BTW, you darn well better not let me know about that via email. Just saying. XOXOXO MOM-I-L

  13. Mucho love and respect to you both! The world (and I) need this voracious respect, love and openness.

    The institution of life could use a lot more compassion and a lot less dogma/ideaology, thank you both for your strength of convictions. Your love for one another and your wee child is a blessing to behold.

    Love,

    Tina
    aka the queer girl in the Burg.

  14. so well said. congrats on the baby and your new legal status! as a freelancer, i totally get the insurance thing. and i’m glad you decided to stay on this coast!

  15. Congratulations! I love all of the ways you show your love and commitment to each other.

    And who knew the view from the courthouse was so kick-ass? Who’d pay to get married anywhere else?

  16. Love to you three, and I’m proud of you for coming to terms with so many things – what should be, what is, and how your family must act accordingly. In this and in so many other things you’ve inspired Ramon and I, and I’m glad for this chance to rejoice with you yet again that you have each other and your sweet child. And that we have you in our lives.

    Much, much love,
    C

  17. Wow. I will say that I am so very grateful for finding this book/website/web community here. You have beautifully expressed almost my exact feelings regarding both options of getting married and not getting married. I too, am choosing marriage, but it is really nice to know that there are other people out there who have similar political/ideological concerns and issues with what the institution of marriage has become. Congratulations on your anniversary!

  18. congratulations on the baby! you are totally correct that in our culture it’s pretty much the only way to guarantee both parents will have the same rights for your child.

    i’m getting our POA stuff in line right now….after 10 years. like you, i’m not into the whole cultural wedding phenom, but if a practical reason required it, i would probably bite my tongue and legalize it. i too hate that it’s a hetero-only “right”, and so even then i would feel a little selfish….

  19. new from offbeat…
    i looked at the flickr of the legal ceremony and loved the excerpt from the vows. Did you two write those? they are so beatuiful and true. Do you mind sharing?

  20. The excerpts on flickr were written by the judge. Apparently each of the judges that does weddings at the municipal court writes his/her own vows. Judge Mamiya is one of the most-requested judges, probably because he’s learned a lot in his 35 years of marriage. We actually requested a copy of the vows in advance because we wanted to be sure we were going to be comfortable, and we were really impressed too.

    Those excerpts were from his introduction. The actual vows we said “I do” to were short and straightforward and equally awesome: “__ do you take __ as your wife? Do you pledge to share your life openly with her, to speak the truth to her in love? Do you promise to honor and tenderly care for her, to cherish and encourage her own fulfillment as an individual through all the changes of your lives?”

    Our original vows from three years ago are linked in the post above. See “promises” in the first paragraph.

  21. Hey Joriel & Ben! I heard the wonderful news then found your blog from Ariel’s website and wanted to congratulate you both! Yay!

  22. I am marrying the man I fell in love with almost 25 years ago on April 1 at the county courthouse. We met when we were teens, dated for a summer and drifted apart. We have crossed paths several times but didn’t reconnect until last summer. He left his entire life in California to be with me and my boys as a family. We have been living together but decided to get married.

    I understand the pragmatic issues that led to your decision. We too could be happy living together without the ceremony but my man is a writer with no “income” and no insurance and we just felt that….well, why not? We are mature, middle aged kids and don’t feel this is impulsive. But we are also doing it for romantic reasons.

    We chose a courthouse ceremony for the anonymity (don’t want my extended family to know), ease, and cost. We have decided to go with non-traditional clothes in black and tan with a wedding dinner at a sophisticated restaurant in the city and a hotel room with a jacuzzi tub!

    Congrats and remember you aren’t alone!

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