Warning: This is totally not related to being Michele Zurlo or writing romance novels, and it is not very succinct.
On Friday, Judge Friedman overturned Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. I was playing Candy Crush while I contemplated grading 7th grade essays. My phone rang, and I answered (which is amazing that I 1) heard the phone and 2) answered. People have learned that I’m not glued to my phone.) It was my buddy Eric (who I’ve mentioned in the dedication of several novels) who is also ordained to marry people. He’d been talking to me all week about what we needed to do when the time came. Eric dropped the good news on me, and told me to keep him informed because he’d drop everything as soon as our application was approved. The County Clerk was closed, and Michigan has a 3-day waiting period. Immediately I texted Suzy (who was out walking the dog) to tell her the news and to ask her to marry me. (In case you’re wondering, it was an immediate YES.)
I cannot tell you how happy we were. Together 18.5 years, we have two lovely children and an adorable dog (and a cranky cat) together. We’ve build a life in the open, living in the district where I teach and sending our kids to schools where lots of people know us. In a lot of ways, we’re insulated from the Republican hate (though that wasn’t always so; a former principal tried hard to fire me when I got pregnant with my kids) and vitriol. The more people know us, the more accepting they seem to be of the LGBT community. I’m not the only person “out” at my building, and we’re not the only lesbian parents in the district. Suzy, a stay-at-home-mom, is a very active parent volunteer in the twins’ elementary school.
Finally, we were going to be able to have the same rights–and not have to pay double for health care–as everybody else. Many friends called and texted good wishes Friday night.
I’m an early riser, so Saturday dawned bright and early. Another friend had left a question on FB asking me if we were going to the County Clerk’s office to get married. In Michigan, you have to be a resident of a county in order to apply for a license. I replied that our clerk wasn’t open, then I checked and found that Oakland County was one of 4 in the state that was holding special Saturday hours. I woke up my wife-to-be. [Funny aside: I burst into the bedroom, yelling “honey!” She thought something was wrong with one of the kids, so she leapt up, still half-asleep, looking around for the problem. She was relieved when I told her that the kids were fine, and we could get a license this morning instead of having to wait until Monday.] We’d been civil-unioned in Vermont 11 years ago, but that wasn’t recognized in our home state. This was a momentous occasion. My bride braved waking her parents before 11 am (it was 8:30) in order to find her birth certificate. Her dad (mid-70’s) was thrilled and ransacked the house to find it. Her mom even woke up to help. (This is a woman I’ve never seen before 2:30 pm.)
We went down, expecting to just file for a license. Imagine our joy when we found out they were waiving the waiting period and performing weddings on the spot. As we waited in line, we debated whether we had the right to ask Eric (and Melissa, who was to be my maid-of-honor) to come down to the courthouse and perform the nuptials. As they were texting us every few minutes (and we found out later the two of them had been up since 7 am trying to coordinate what was going to happen and when), we asked if they wanted to come up. They dropped everything to be there within an hour. The fact that Melissa had her hair and makeup done (on a weekend) meant she’d been ready for the call.
While waiting in line, another friend sent this picture:
She wanted to know if this was me. I wish I had her ability to see stuff this small. At first I just said I was there. Later, I realized that, yes, I am in the picture. Someone had posted it on a FB site that was a proponent of gay marriage, and her husband had shown her the photo. In case you’re wondering, I’m in the center of the photo, right by the red line, behind the woman in the white sweatshirt. I am wearing a black shirt and carrying a maroon coat. If you look even closer, you can see my bride’s head sticking out from behind the baldish-man texting on his phone in the foreground. We’re talking to the gay couple behind us. Nice guys from Berkeley who hope being able to be legally married will help them adopt a child. (Best of luck guys–people who want kids that badly deserve to have them!) Our kids are sitting on the ledge under the window, glued to their books. My nerds.
While we waited, friends and family texted and called. Both our mothers have health problems that prevented them from being able to drop everything to be there, which was fine. We didn’t even know we were going to get married until we’d been in line for a half hour. We talked to a reporter from Fox 2 News, though we didn’t watch to see if our clip made the final cut. I’m sure it didn’t. I rambled like a nervous idiot, and I’m sure nobody could cobble a good sound bite out of it.
So Eric and Melissa made it soon after we’d filed the application. Eric, in his tuxedo T-shirt, performed the ceremony. It was touching and sweet, and we all cried at least a little. Melissa was our videographer, photographer, witness, maid-of-honor, and all around good friend. After some paperwork and $50 more spent, we had our licenses.
After that, we went out to lunch together, and then we met up with other friends to see Divergent. At dinner that night, we found out that the Court of Appeals had issued a stay until Wednesday. That means our marriage had been temporarily invalidated until they could decide whether they wanted to permanently invalidate it. The judge who issued the stay mentioned that he wanted to give Michigan’s Attorney General, an a-hole by the name of Schuette who thinks it’s his duty to persecute the LGBT community for wanting the same rights accorded to everybody else, time to really think about whether he should waste taxpayer dollars with an appeal. Over 300 couples were married in the 4 counties that opened their doors to us on Saturday, almost half of them in Oakland County. Friends of our who live in neighboring Livingston County were not able to get married this weekend. They’d planned to take Monday off, but now those plans are on hold.
That is the story of my weekend (and why I haven’t graded any 7th grade essays). I will keep you posted on this issue (and how it affects me) as it develops. If you live in Michigan, contact Schuette and your local representatives and senators and Governor Snyder to tell them that you want them to let this ruling stand. Schuette’s website says he’s the people’s voice for victims, but in this case, he’s the one victimizing innocents. People are a lot more educated about LGBT than they were 10 years ago when this travesty of an amendment was passed, and most Michigan residents are in favor of marriage equality.