Wednesday, December 19, 2012

George Takei Will Help You Come Out For the Holidays (video)

Coming out to your family is always difficult, especially during the holidays. Conan O'Brien's sidekick, Andy Richter is offering to help you out this Christmas by coming to your home and outing you to your family, for just $99.95. For just $1.99 extra, uber-gay George Takei will personally welcome you to the world of gay.  If anyone gives you shit, Takei promises to come back and fuck their shit up!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We Got Hitched!

Well, gays and gals, we finally did it. As I wrote previously, Paul and I decided to head to DC and get gay married. With just three weeks to get it all organized and the much-appreciated help of family and friends, we pulled it off on Friday, the 14th in the city where I once lived, attended my first Pride at age 18, and marched in the streets on so many occasions for over the last three decades.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend that, in many ways, mirrored the the weekend we first met.

Was it love at first sight? Well it was something like that. I've always said, "when you don't have a plan, you better have good timing." We were both at the right place in our lives and the timing was just right. Suffice to say, that when I first laid eyes on Paul, I knew that his was the face I wanted to wake up to every morning.

Our first date lasted all weekend, culminating on my 40th birthday. Fast forward 13 years, three moves, 11 ducks, three cats, trips to L.A., NYC, DC, Florida and Paris (twice), uncountable ups and downs later and we decided it was time to make it legal in nine states and the district.

It was actually the Marriage Equality victories in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State this year that got us thinking seriously about jumping the broom. We made the announcement to my family at my niece's wedding in November. With only a few weeks to plan, it was amazing how quickly everything came together with the help of family and friends. Thank you all for your support.

Our dear friend, blogger and activist Bil Browning performed a beautiful, simple ceremony in a park at Judiciary Square next to the Courthouse. After filing the license at the courthouse, we attended a gathering of family at my nephew Andrew's condo near Logan Circle, where we were greeted by such an outpouring of love and acceptance. What an amazing afternoon.

Bil wrote a piece about it at The Bilerico Project, where he quoted my father, who said, "I never thought I'd see the day that Steve got married. Times have really changed and I'm so glad I've lived long enough to be here for today. My son got married and just a few years ago I'd have said that would be an impossibility."

It wasn't just a celebration of our wedding. It was a day of healing as my family welcomed their prodigal back into the fold, for which I am so grateful.

I have to admit that over the years, I got so caught up in the fight for equality that it became more about the fight, than my own relationship with Paul. To those who say "it's just a piece of paper", I say, you are so wrong. Marriage makes a difference. It's not just about sharing in the over 1,100 legal rights and responsibilities that straight folks are entitled to. It's about love. I have never loved my husband Paul more than I do now and that makes all the difference.

Friday, December 7, 2012

When Marriage Equality Becomes Personal: Off the Bench and into the Game

As I sit here at my computer, sipping my morning coffee, one week away from my wedding day, I am listening to CNN's Jeffery Toobin speculate on whether or not the US Supreme Court will decide today to take up two legal challenges to bans on marriage equality: The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the challenge to California's Prop 8. Both have been found by lower courts to violate the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Toobin explains the difference between the two laws. DOMA, the 1996 legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton, bans federal recognition of legal same sex marriage and leaves it up to individual states to decide whether or not to recognize those marriages performed in other states.

Even if the Supremes overturn DOMA, it won't make marriage equality legal, but it will force the federal government to treat gay and lesbian couples equally to opposite-married couples. If they choose not to take the case, then the law can only be overturned legislatively by congress.

With the Prop 8 challenge, if the high court declines to hear the case, marriage equality immediately becomes legal again in California. Should they decide to hear the case, we hold our collective breath and wait for several more months. A victory overturns constitutional bans in all 50 states and we all win. A defeat maintains the status quo and we continue to slog it out, state by state, until all of us are treated equally under the law.

I've written about these and other marriage equality fights for several years. I've marched on Washington several times, organized rallies and protests for equality, attended Pride in different cities for over three decades and discussed the issues with family and friends all in an ongoing effort to educate and open hearts and minds. Thousands of LGBT activists, bloggers and ordinary people have done the same, each one contributing what they can to fight for equal rights.

As with any minority group struggling for equal treatment, the fight becomes the focus, while the goal seems increasingly elusive the longer the fight goes on. But now, as I work out the final details of our wedding next Friday, I am struck by how surreal it all feels to be off the sidelines and in the game.

Paul and I are from the generation that came out at a time when marriage wasn't even a consideration for gays and lesbians. Coming out, for us, meant, trying not to be seen going to gay bars, avoiding police harassment, accepting the reality of who we are, living honestly and openly as gay men and the cold, hard fact that certain milestones of life, like marriage and starting a family, were no longer options. We each, separately, got on with life, had relationships, created lives of our own, attended weddings of friends and family, all the while, watching from the sidelines.

Then we met and the connection was immediate. I knew at that moment that his was the face I wanted to wake up to every morning. When we finally moved in together after nearly a year, he got down on one knee and proposed, holding out a ring that didn't cost much and had one of its rainbow-colored stones missing. I accepted, happily, knowing all they while that in Virginia - in 2001 - the prospect of an actual wedding was a long way off.

Fast forward thirteen years and several several marriage equality victories later and it's all about to become a reality.

I find myself planning a small ceremony in Washington, DC on the rooftop deck at my nephew's condo. So many family members and friends are pitching in to make this happen. It's a seven hour drive to DC, so getting this put together has been a challenge. A big thanks goes out to my friends and family in and around DC who have been working to make our wedding day a reality.

It is now well into the afternoon as I have attempted to write this article in fits and starts, having written and deleted several paragraphs that one moment seemed perfect, then the next made no sense at all.

I have so many mixed emotions, it's difficult to express them. One minute I'm thrilled, the next terrified. I reflect on my own family relationships and the relationship I have forged with Paul's family and try to comprehend that when we are married, Paul and I will be merging the two. Up until fairly recently, our family consisted of the two of us, our three cats and the 11 ducks we raised back in Virginia at our little slice of heaven we called Morning Wood Acres.

Our lives are different now here in North Carolina than when we first started out together. After all the ups and downs that are the hallmark of all long-term relationships, we're in a great place in our life together. In many ways, after 13 years nothing will change, but at the same time, everything will change.

The knowledge that in one week we will be legally married, reaping the benefits of our labor and that of so many others is, at times, overwhelming. Next week I will marry my best friend and soul mate and I am both thrilled and terrified, just like every other groom in the history of marriage. If that's not equality, than what is?

Editor's note:
As I finish this piece, Talking Points Memo has posted that the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of Windsor vs. The United States, which challenges the constitutionality of DOMA.

Via TPM:

Oral arguments will be next spring and a decision is expected by the end of June.
The Court agreed to hear the Windsor v. United States case, which was brought by a lesbian widow. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated DOMA in a 2-1 decision finding that the federal government did not have a legitimate interest in treating same sex couples differently.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wedding News: Bil Browning to Officiate

Bil, Steve and Jerame. (I just lost 20 lbs. Why do I still look fat?)
That's right, gays and gals, Bil Browning, long time LGBT rights activist and Editor in Chief of The Bilerico Project has agreed to officiate at our ceremony in DC next month.

Paul and I feel so honored. Bil has been great about posting articles I've submitted and has been so supportive of my writing. We finally got to meet here in Charlotte when he and his partner, Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Stonewall Democrats, were in town for the Democratic Convention.

We had a great afternoon of French pastries and conversation at Amelie's that day and laid the foundation for what I hope will be a long friendship.

I can't express how thrilled Paul and I are to finally be getting married after thirteen years together, on our anniversary date and in the city that I will always think of as my home town.

Still so many details to work out. Will post more as things develop.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Breaking Marriage Equality News: Mine! (with Music by ABBA)

...or more correctly, "ours". After nearly thirteen years together, my hubby Paul and I have decided to make it official and are planning to get gay married in DC next month. We're still working out the details, but one thing is definite, I want this song played at the ceremony. More details to come.


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