Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Wonderful Afternoon (Equal Marriage Support Experience)

Unitarian Universalists in San Diego County (and I suspect throughout California) rallied today to celebrate Equal Marriage being a reality. We gathered at the county administration offices where marriage licenses are issued and marriages performed to support and celebrate those getting licenses today.

I couldn't get there this morning; my wife had a hell of a schedule and I had to take one son to a dentist appointment. I'm told there was a rush at and shortly after 8 am at the San Marcos office. I got there at 1 pm.

There were no protesters. None. There weren't any at any time during the day. There were a couple sheriffs (and cars) there, but they had nothing to do (other than to gently and politely point out that we were blocking one sidewalk at a time when we were with three couples at the same time and in the process sort of spilled out over the whole walk).

It was wonderful. Weather aside (it was marvelous), it was a real delight to be there. Couple after couple came in and they were immensely pleased that folks they didn't even know were there to celebrate with them, had come out to spend the day cheering them on.

The gay couple who'd been together 42 years, and were so happy that they could at last get married, officially.

The lesbian couple in their late 20s, with their twin daughters, utterly delighted with the roses they were handed and the bubbles someone was blowing.

The guys who were part of the local LGBT Alliance leadership and were there for their license, getting a church wedding Sunday (one of three we heard about for that Sunday at that church).

The older ladies who arrived with two daughters (soon followed by granddaughters... one with her young son), who were initially put off. They saw us, didn't read the signs or shirts.. and thought we were protesters there to harass them. They told us that their daughters planned to sort of push through and protect them. You can imagine the rollercoaster of emotions for all of us when they realized we were there to support them and celebrate with them--tears in both their eyes, one daughter's, and both of the UU ministers with us, of relief and joy. They were so happy when they came out of the building.

Any one of those would have been worth standing in the sun for four hours. Each couple so joyful when they had their license (and in some cases, marriage done).

No protesters. Not one. Remember, this is northern San Diego County--the not-long-ago John Bircher underbelly of red Orange County, where dirtballs like Tom Metzger and the (so called) Minutemen were and are a reality. This is the county which, we're told, holds a disproportionate number of those bankrolling the attempt to amend the California Constitution). They didn't muster a single protester.

The sum total of negativity? Two events. One was two guys who walked in dressed pretty similarly (we were actually wondering if they were a couple who were in for a license). As they left, the one was on a cell phone and commented (but not very loudly) "gay marriage is wrong." The other was almost at the end of the day, a single middle-aged woman who asked what the signs were about. When I explained, she asked "And you're supporting that?" When I said "Absolutely," she sort of shook her head and said "You need to repent," and walked away.

We had several people ask questions--people who seemed to be making up their minds about what they thought, and whether this was ok... I just hope that the fact that people were out, happy and pleasant and civil, including clergy, supporting it, made them really consider their votes.


But it's not really all joy. Ignoring that there's this absurd ballot measure. One of the ministers told of getting a call yesterday; a chaplain in a hospice where a man was dying. He and his partner of 24 years wanted to get married--legally--while they could. But it wasn't possible. Because the deadline to start, legally, was today (in San Diego, where licenses were only issued starting today--a few counties stayed open late yesterday to take advantage of the 5 pm deadline), that couple likely didn't make it to the altar. The fellow in hospice wasn't expected to live another day.

The delaying of this did that to them. It's wonderful that it's finally here--but it's too damned late for some.

Do what you can to help ensure that the amendment effort fails, or it will be too late for others, too.


DremeMynd said...

What a wonderful day this must have been for so many people.

I wish we could celebrate this for every state soon.

Earthbound Spirit said...

Beautiful, Ogre. I read this with tears in my eyes. It sounds like a wonderful celebration!

ms. kitty said...

What a great experience for you and for all those who were there, Ogre! I'm so glad you told us about it. Like others, I pray for the day when marriage will be an equal right for all our friends and neighbors.

kim said...

Your story was very similar to ours. I and my 17 year old emancipated ex-ward went to support (and take photos of) our friends, a UU minister and her wife and daughter (toddler) as they got their license. There were supporters outside, but no protesters. There was clergy offering weddings on the spot. When our friends went up to the counter for the paperwork, they were given a big bunch of flowers (roses and freesias) that the clerk had been told to give to the next same-sex couple who arrived. Two guys who came in after them we talked to for a bit -- and they said they weren't going to do the ceremony today, but when they went outside, they ended up doing the ceremony on the spot when it was offered. I got to sign as witness. I feel so honored.
Our friends are having their ceremony Friday -- their third I think. Let's hope this time it sticks. We have to defeat that amendment.