Essays · LiFe

This is What Marriage Looks Like

20140602-125937-46777141.jpgIt happened.  Wow.

Many of our friends and family members are celebrating right now.  My Mom just sent us a text message expressing her excitement about the decision from SCOTUS today on marriage equality.  To me it’s always a beautiful thing when love wins.

For those wondering what gay marriage, which from now on will just be referred to as marriage, looks like, I wrote this post to fill you in.  First though, some background.  We’ve been married, in one form or another, since 2003, having had our actual marriage ceremony (the non-legal one) on the beach in Maui, then a few years later we got our legal domestic partnership in Oregon (I think it was 2007), and finally we were legally married in Illinois last year.  We’ve never had to have the paperwork to tell us who we are or to define our relationship.  We’ve always known.  And in fact we’ve only actually had one ceremony, that day on the beach in Maui, just the two of us, all those years ago.  The rest of it, for us, has just been about getting the paperwork, making it legal.  And being legal matters because we wanted the same privileges when it comes to protections for each other, rights to be enjoyed, etc.  We celebrated each time we took a step in that direction, each time we were afforded another set of rights, protections, and privileges.  And we are celebrating again today, because now so many of our friends can, if they choose to, make that same legal commitment to each other.  It’s a beautiful moment.

But what does “gay” marriage look like you ask?  What exactly is “gay” marriage?

Every day we get up when the alarm goes off.  We grumble a little, sometimes just laying there, petting the dogs, wishing it was a no alarm day.  But it is, so we get up.  We open the doggie door and put the water on for coffee.  Coffee is essential.  If there are dishes in the sink from the night before they get loaded into the dishwasher.  The dogs get breakfast.  My honey fires up her work computer in the office and gets to the task of ruling the world from her pajamas.  I pay some bills and get an appointment made to get our Jeep serviced.  Breakfast of some sort gets made.  The morning goes on, turning into afternoon.  Sometimes I run errands, we may get a visit from the grand kids, we take the dogs for a walk.  In the spring and summer we find time to pull weeds in the garden, dead head some flowers, fill the bird feeders.  We say hello to our mail lady and sometimes have a friendly chat with our neighbors as on both sides of the fence the barbecues get fired up to make dinner.   We laugh together.  We talk about our upcoming vacation and get excited about the places we’re going and the beauty we hope to see there.  We talk about the news and the grandkids and our parents.  My honey’s birthday is coming up and I’m excited about the present I got for her this year.  She’s hard to buy for, but I think I did it right this time.  I hope so.  We make dinner, barbecuing some steaks, steaming some vegetables, and feed the dogs their dinner.  They are, as always, excited about getting fed.  We head down to the family room where we sit in our recliners, which are side by side, and watch whatever shows we happened to have recorded.  I’m a huge fan of the tiny house shows at the moment so we usually watch one of them.  My honey enjoys them too, but mostly I think she watches them because I love them.  That’s how we are.  We hold hands and pet the dogs who seem to always find their way onto our laps.  We chat, we make each other laugh.  Every day it seems we have to take turns emptying the dehumidifier which always seems to be full this time of year.  My honey heads up to the kitchen and comes back down with some small sweet dessert.  I throw in a load of laundry.  We finish up our evening, wander back upstairs, do the dishes so they won’t be in the sink the next morning, make sure the dogs go out and then shut the doggie door.  We turn off the lights, brush our teeth, and make our way back into bed.  We flip on the tv for a little bit, the dogs snuggle in with us, we watch, we chat, we laugh, we say I love you, and then we shut off the tv and go to sleep.  Tomorrow we’ll do it again.  And the next day.  And the day after that.  It’s our life.  Our beautiful, wonderful, regular life.

This is what marriage looks like.

Family & Friends · LiFe

Trading Up to a Marriage We Already Had


It’s the 12th of June.  We’ve been legally married for 10 days now.  I don’t feel any more married than I did before, though we were told, immediately after getting the deed done, that now if we split up we’d have to get divorced like everyone else.  That made us laugh.

In 2003 my life changed for good, in both senses of that word.  It got infinitely better and was also altered for all time.  I met K, and life changed.  Ours is a true love story.  Girl meets girl, they fall madly in love, they buy a house, they do their own marriage ceremony on a far off Hawaiian island because it’s not legal where they live anyway and Hawaii was the perfect spot, they return home and have a party with their families and friends to celebrate both the purchase of their first home together and their union, and bliss ensues, even if it’s not legally wedded bliss.

Flash forward five years and Oregon gets Domestic Partnership.  We already considered ourselves married, but this was a step toward legal recognition, so I marched over to the County Clerk‘s desk (I worked for the county so it wasn’t a long jaunt), filled out the form, took it home for K to sign, paid the fee, and tah-da! we were suddenly legally domestically partnered.  Soon after we got a letter from the state of Oregon telling us we now had to file our state taxes together.  However, we still couldn’t file together federally so we had to do a fake federal return every year to go with the real Oregon return we filed.  Hilarious, and annoying.

A couple of years later K got sick, and not long after that I did.  Both required hospitalization and nearer to death than we’d like experiences.  Both times the hospital staff were very nice to us, as a couple, and even complimented us on our relationship, saying we were more devoted to each other than many couples they’d seen together.  But, they also asked us, in the middle of emotional crisis, to call our attorney and have him fax over our legal paperwork, which we’d done not long after we bought our house together, to protect ourselves and our relationship because we couldn’t get protections through legal marriage.   They said that they didn’t perceive an issue, but just in case, to be safe, we should get that paperwork on file with the hospital so we could make decisions for each other.  We were glad we had that paperwork, but slightly upset we had to go through all that, on top of everything else that was going on, during very hard times.  But, you do what you have to, even if other couples don’t have to.

We continued to live our blissfully un-legally married lives.  We got dogs (who we still have and adore more than we could ever explain), we bought rental properties, took vacations, took a motorcycle class and then bought motorcycles, got into kayaking and started doing that, went to dinners with friends and celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, visited our families, worked in the yard, eventually moved to another state, set up a new house, spent time with our grandson (and then, as of last year, grandsons), bought and sold cars, sold that first house we’d bought together those years ago (ironically the sale happened during our 10th anniversary road trip), and loved each other the whole way.  We are still loving each other, the whole way.

Suddenly, or actually not so suddenly, this year, an amazing thing happened, marriage became legal.  Huh?  And, Yeah!

The subject of marriage equality, in our normal every day lives, rarely ever came up.  We were living as a married couple, thought of ourselves as a married couple, and have been treated like a married couple by our families and friends for years.  But, we were never legally married.  We were married in every way that counted, save for that one.  Once in a while we’d talk about it, about being legal, about getting to be the same as everyone else we knew, as our brothers and sisters had been able to, as our parents had been able to, as many of our friends had been able to.  Something they all took for granted.  Meet someone you love, marry them, settle down.  For us it was never that easy, we had never been allowed do it.  We were barred from it though we were expected to pay our taxes like everyone else, without getting all the benefit those taxes are supposed to ensure.  Rubbish.  It was rubbish, but there was nothing we could do about it, not really.  So we’d talk about it once in awhile, get disgruntled, I’d sometimes cry, and we’d move on to other more important things, like what to make for dinner and the logistics of taking the car in for service and what we were going to do on the weekend when we spent time with the kids and the grand boys.  Life stuff.  Tangible stuff.

Then, as I said, marriage happened.  So, the day after it was legal here in Illinois, we again marched down to yet another County Clerk’s office to, as we’d read we could, to trade in our Oregon Domestic Partnership for an actual marriage certificate.  We walked into the building joking with each other, laughing, saying hey, wanna get married?  We walked up to the counter, whipped out our domestic partnership paperwork, and were immediately told no.  It was a kind and polite no, but a no none the less.  They said IF we’d had an Illinois Civil Union we could trade that in, and trade up, but not with our domestic partnership stuff.  I was, as is per usual, ready to accept it and ask for a marriage license so we could get married, K was not deterred, as is per usual for her (thank goodness!).  She said she’d read it on the state website, that we should be able to it, and that the conversion should be, as stated on the state website, backdated to our domestic partnership date.  The clerk went back to talk to the actual County Clerk, more than once, who finally came out to chat with us.  He again said no, but by then I was onboard and explained that Oregon’s Domestic Partnership was legally binding, just like Illinois’ Civil Unions were, and that we were even required to file taxes together in Oregon.  He smiled and said this was the first time they’d run into a situation like this, as it was all new to them as well, and he had to go make a call.  A bit later he came back, said we were correct, that Oregon’s was legally binding, and that they would indeed convert our domestic partnership to a marriage certificate backdated to our domestic partnership date.  He congratulated us, shook our hands, as other people in the office also congratulated us.  So did the heterosexual couple standing at the window next to us who was applying for their own marriage license.  Everyone was pretty awesome.  About 15 minutes later there we were, walking out with two legal copies of our marriage certificate, dated 2008.  We were, suddenly, after all this time, legally married.  We smiled, we giggled, and… I cried.  Of course I did.

Now, looking back on it all, the legalization has changed nothing in our day-to-day lives.  We made dinner that night, we chatted with K’s parents, who were visiting us at the time, we called our tree guy about a damaged limb we need to get removed, we snuggled our pups,  held our grandsons, and did a million other things we do every day, every week, and have done every year since we met and fell in love.  It hasn’t changed us, but somehow the light is a bit brighter, the wind is a bit sweeter, and the world is strangely a tad more solid under our feet.  We are married.  We are legally married.  We are suddenly, miraculously, the same, afforded the same privileges and pains in the ass as every other legally married couple.  And yes… if we ever decide to split up, we will have to get divorced.  I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that won’t happen, but the fact that we would have to get divorced means a lot.  We take on the good with the bad, the consequences with the privileges, we take it all.  Because we, my friends, are now in the same boat as every other married couple we know.  We’ve traded up.  Traded up to a marriage we already had.

Essays · Going Global · Illinois · LiFe · Politics

What Makes a Marriage

I’m married.  At least K and I feel we’re married.  We’ve already had two marriage “ceremonies”.  One on a beach in Maui, just the two of us, words spoken, rings exchanged, sand ceremony, poetry read, and lots of love.  We consider that one our real marriage ceremony.  It might not, technically, have been legal, but it was sincere, honest, and full of love.  It had everything, everything we needed and wanted anyway.  It was beautiful, and perfect.  The second, not actually a ceremony, was when I walked into the courthouse, paid the filing fee, and left with a domestic partnership certificate for the two of us.  We had to certify that we’d lived together for a certain length of time, by then we’d been together for a few years.

Now, nearly 11 years later, we’re living in Illinois, not Oregon, and in June, when the Illinois marriage law takes effect, we can, once again, get married.  We find this funny by the way.  Not funny that we’ve had to wait for marriage or hope for marriage or long for equality, but funny that this will be our third time.  We joke that maybe this time it will stick.  One can only hope.

All of this has me thinking.  What makes a marriage?

In June we will take our domestic partnership certificate in to the courthouse here in Illinois and exchange it for a marriage license.  They will back date our marriage license to the date we got our domestic partnership, which is great.  It means we will be considered legally married from that date, which was like, oh, six or seven years ago.  I can’t remember.  It wasn’t THE marriage so we honestly don’t even know the date we did it.  I’m sure it says on the certificate.  And, suddenly, miraculously, we will be, after all these years, legally married.


The thing is, we are already married.  When we made those vows to each other on that beach in Maui, we meant them.  We didn’t need someone else to sanction it, or tell us it was OK.  We just needed to hear from each other that we loved and were loved in return.

So what’s the big deal about legal.  Well, it is a big deal.  Not so much to us, or to our friends and family who I think all consider us already married as well.  It’s a big deal because we will be protected under the law.  The taxes we pay will, finally, be used to our benefit, and we won’t be paying for other people to enjoy freedoms and benefits that to this point we weren’t allowed.  We will be the same.

The same.  That’s the thing, really.  We are the same as everyone else.  I know I’ve said this before.  We laugh, we love, we have friends and go to family functions with both sides of our families.  We work and do the dishes and go out to dinner and clean our bathrooms and mow our lawn.  We vacation, collecting heart rocks on every trip, take our dogs to the groomer, and go to the movies.  We babysit our grandchildren and buy organic food and go on bike rides.  We live.  We live and yet we’ve always felt just a little bit separate.  We’ve been made to feel separate. We’ve been told we are less than.  We aren’t.  But this is why gay groups have sprung up and gay people have banded together and held each others hands and been out and proud to be out.  We’ve had to. We’ve had to in order to feel what community feels like, since the larger community has shunned and pushed us away for so long.

And now… now we will be the same.  Still ridiculed and feared in same places, by some people, but the same legally.  We will, finally, be included, be part of the larger crowd.  We will be, honestly, the same.  Which is all we’ve ever wanted.  To continue to live normal lives and instead of being gay Tam, I’ll be Tam.  I’ll be Tam and K will be K and we will be married.  Married just like my Mom was married and my grandparents were married and K’s parents are married.

We will be married.  A piece of paper does not make a marriage, but it sure makes a marriage a legal, tangible, and a real thing in the eyes of the law.  It makes it real in the eyes of the community at large, even those who would still try to deny us.  What has, and will always be, real and true to us, will be real and true to our larger community.


Going Global · Illinois · In The News · LiFe


I’m actually sitting here at a loss for words.  Shocking.  Yesterday I was jumping up and down, crying, pumping my fists in the air, and trying to mouth the words, “it passed!” to K who was on the phone in a meeting for work.  It was a comedy of sorts.  She involved in her meeting, me jumping and crying and trying to shout without saying a word.  She mouthed the words, “what’s up?” and I just kept whispering that it passed.  We had a mini failure to communicate until she just asked the person on the phone to wait a second, held her hand over the headset mic, and said, “what’s going on?”.  I could then finally answer aloud.  “It passed!  It passed!”  She got excited, had to tell the person she was on the phone with what I’d just said.  Finally, we could semi celebrate together.  When she got off the phone we hugged each other.  I was still crying.

I spent over two hours yesterday with headphones on, computer tabbed to the state house feed, listening and watching the debate about the Illinois marriage bill.  It was infuriating, enlightening, glorious, encouraging, a tad scary at times, and ultimately wonderful.  Whether people said things I agreed with, or not, it was fascinating to watch and listen to the process.  When the vote finally came it happened so fast it was almost anticlimactic.  They vote electronically so it took less than 10 seconds.  Bam.  Done.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this.  After all, there are many people, who for religious reasons, feel my right to marry who I love is wrong.  And, oh well.  I don’t expect people to agree.  It’s a divisive issue.  Always has been.  I see it as the civil rights issue of our time, and others see it as a religious issue.  I could argue that, as I have in the past on this blog, but today I won’t.  Today I guess maybe I want to write about love.

I am in love.  Since April of 2003, and if I really admit it to myself it was probably a couple of months earlier, I’ve been in love.  In the beginning I was scared as hell.  Me being in love with a woman was not something my family would expect and at that point didn’t know anything about.  So I was scared.  In love, but scared.  Would they accept her, would they cast me out, would they turn their backs or talk behind mine?  One of the reasons I kept being gay a secret for so long was because I didn’t want to go from being Tam to being gay Tam.  Because whether people mean to or not, that’s exactly what happens.  You suddenly become something different from what you were to other people.  Not always in a bad way, but different none the less.  I didn’t want that first perceived difference, until I met her, and then I didn’t want to keep it a secret or hide her from everyone in my life.  I wanted her to be a part of my family.  I wanted to live a whole and authentic life and to do that I had to tell my truth.  So I did.  And yes, I became gay Tam.  But then — then I was just Tam again.

A lot happened right after the coming out thing, as you can imagine, but what mostly happened was a whole bunch of acceptance and love.  Love.  I have friends who are pretty religious people, but they still loved me.  One of them, a super spiritual Christian guy, came to see me in person and ended up telling me he loved me, no matter what, and that it wasn’t his job to judge or condemn me.  You know, the judge not lest ye be judged thing.  I love him for that.   I respect him for that.  And I respect his beliefs.  We differ, but that’s OK.  My grandmother, who my mom elected to tell (with my permission of course) said, and I quote, it was about time I came out.  ha ha ha!  That still makes me smile and laugh.  She’d suspected, she kind of already knew, she was OK with it, and had been impatient for me to just say it already.


I think I was surprised at how well people just sort of accepted K into our family, into our lives.  Friends I’d had forever accepted her as well.  People treated us as if we were just like every other couple.  Because, you know, we were.  We are.  We’re the same — mortgage, dogs, making dinner, working, pulling weeds in the garden, going for walks, taking vacations, watching dumb television shows, having the occasional argument, babysitting the grand boys, grocery shopping.  Same.  We love.  We are loved.

I’m lucky.  I know this.  When I say it’s not every day people find the kind of relationship we have, I mean anyone.  Gay, straight, somewhere in the middle.  People strive for this, this thing we have.  This absolute certainty that we are.  We are more than just meant for each other or made for each other or any of that.  We are.  Simple.  When I met her it was as if everything snapped into place, an audible click.  Home.  I still feel that way.  Lucky.

Yes, alright — we argue and somehow she puts up with me when I get too emotional.  I put up with her need to do a million things at once which sometimes leads to her not listening as well as I’d like.  We do struggle at times.  Of course we do.  We aren’t perfect.  What’s great is that no matter how much we struggle or how angry we get or how hard things sometimes feel there’s never a feeling of wanting to end it, or go, or take a break, or any of that.  The tough stuff always makes us stronger as a couple if we let it.  We let it.  We can’t imagine our lives without each other in them.

We’re lucky.


We’ve already been married twice.  To each other.  This makes me smile.  The first time we got married we were alone on a beach in Hawaii.  We’d purchased rings and found our spot and did it ourselves.  Words spoken, rings exchanged, happy tears shed, poetry, and a sand ceremony she’d surprised me with.  We still have that bottle of sand.  We’ve considered ourselves married since then.   I think, really, we’ve considered ourselves married since that first date.  I know I was.  It’s why we count our anniversaries from then.  But the ceremony in Hawaii was a real marriage for us.  Maybe not sanctified or certified or papered in any way, but real none the less.  The second time we got married Oregon had just passed a domestic partnership law.  I worked for a county in Oregon at the time so during a break I walked down to the proper desk, paid the fee, we filled out the paperwork, and a week later there it was, our certificate of domestic partnership.  Not really a marriage, but a legal thing, even if it seemed slightly empty in a way.  We laughed, but at least that, combined with the $1600 in paperwork we’d done with an attorney, sort of protected us as a couple.  Sort of.  I say this because later, when at different times we were each hospitalized, we had to give the hospital with our powers of attorney, etc. so that we could make decisions for each other.  It added a stress regular couples don’t have to deal with.  Nothing like worrying if you’ll be kicked out of your wife’s room because she isn’t legally your wife.  Luckily those strangers were kind and gentle and accepting.  So much so one of the nurses mentioned to us how fantastic our relationship was and that she rarely saw a couple so devoted.  It was a compliment.  It was a commentary.  It spoke directly to the we that is us.



We’ve never had an actual ceremony in front of people.  A ceremony the kids and my mom and my brothers and sisters and K’s brother and sister and parents and our friends, etc., etc., could attend.  As a young woman I never thought I’d be able to have a wedding.  It was so far out of the consciousness I literally never even imagined it.  Later, K and I vowed not to do it until/unless it became federally legal.  Our paperwork and our own private marriage were what we’ve had.  And on one hand they’ve been enough.  The hand that says we don’t need anyone telling us our relationship is valid and important and real.  We know it is.  We live it and feel it every day.  On the other hand not being able to legally wed has denied us many rights other couples who can get married enjoy and take for granted every day.  Some of those rights legal, like getting the same rights for the taxes we pay, and some human, like being recognized in the same way as all other couples who love each other and last are when they are married.

And again, I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything here.  I’m just speaking to my own personal experience.  Yesterday, when marriage happened for us in Illinois, I cried.  I cried because it’s another step toward being culturally real.  Toward begin a part of something bigger than just us.  It’s being looked at, from the outside, as legit and meaningful in the same ways as other couples who are devoted to each other, who have taken that step.  It means my mom can be at my wedding, the kids can be there, our family and friends can be there.  It means we can celebrate and rejoice and affirm the love we have and have had for each other for over 10 years and our families and friends can hug us and share in that moment.  I means all the same protections and privileges will then apply to us.  It means inclusion, not exclusion.  And it means so much more than I can even put into words.  Which, as I said in the beginning of this, sometimes fail me.


There is nothing more important in this life than the people we love and who love us.  Period, the end.  Love is beautiful and special and precious and real.  Man, woman, gay or straight.  Ours is.  Our love for each other and our love for the people in our lives.  This latest happening in Illinois is a victory for love.  It’s very existence has advanced us, as a species.  It’s propelled us a bit closer toward a place and time when all people will be loved and accepted and celebrated for who they are.  A time and a place that’s hopefully not too far off in the future.  Love always wins.  Eventually.  Love of our spouses, our children, our families, our friends, our fellow man and woman.  I believe this.

I believe in love.


Love Wins

I just watched this video on Facebook after a friend posted it. It made me tear up. Love is love, people. Plain and simple. It brings joy and laughter and happiness to all who experience and witness it. There is no more powerful force on the planet than the love we feel for each other. Love wins.

LiFe · Politics

Where All Men and Women Are Not Created Equally

We pay taxes.  A lot of taxes actually.  More than our share.  Why?  Because we are not recognized as a couple and therefore must file separately.  The system is set up, for us anyway, so that we actually have to file a dummy federal income tax return with our state tax return, in both states where we own property.  We consider ourselves married.  Have been together for over 9 years now.  Work and continue to support the economy.  Give to charity. Own property.  We try to buy local, support the farms in our area, and we are good citizens.  We follow the rules, never hurt anyone, haven’t been arrested.  We love our families, our friends, and each other.  Apparently, that’s all not enough.  And apparently we are legally obligated to pay an extra $2000 in taxes without getting all the benefits and rights afforded to couples who don’t happen to be the same sex.  Apparently of the people, by the people, and for the people doesn’t include us as “the people”.  This angers me.

I haven’t spoken out much on this topic until now because honestly we just go about our lives.  Our lives are full and lovely, which takes most of our attention.  But when something like what just happened in North Carolina happens, we talk about it.  We are outraged.  And frankly, a tad stunned.   We know there are haters out there.  And they can say that they are just concerned for the sanctity of marriage, but common, they hate.  How else can you justify completely obliterating someone else’s civil rights?  You don’t do something like that out of love and concern, you do it out of fear and hate.

There have been oh so many conversations, statements to the press, position clarifying notices, etc. and I’m sick of all of it.  What this comes down to is the basic undermining of a whole segment of the populations civil rights.  And don’t be mistaken, this is a civil rights issue.  If it weren’t we wouldn’t be paying more taxes than we should.  If it was only about the sanctity of marriage there would be, at least, federal civil unions that would include us, take us into consideration, honor our love of this country.  But there isn’t… and here we are.  North Carolina doesn’t only ban same sex marriage, they get rid of civil unions as well.  Sanctity of marriage?  Yeah right.

I could go on and on about how we are the same as everyone else… but I won’t.  No one listens to that.  To the people who would, and do, slam the door in our face there’s not a lot of listening happening anyway.  I don’t understand this, but there it is.  I was raised to treat people as you would be treated.  I was raised to be considerate and kind and generous and tolerant and caring.  I was raised to believe that until you walk in someone’s shoes you should never judge them.  I was raised to give people the benefit of the doubt and to try and understand all sides before going off half cocked.  I was raised to do unto others and judge not lest ye be judged.  The funny thing is I was raised by an atheist and an agnostic.  I was raised without religion in my life, except during those incredibly judgmental visits to an evangelical grandmother who, as I got older and really saw her, treated my wonderful little brother like a piece of trash.  I have no idea why.  She played favorites.  I was a favorite, he was not.  When this realization hit home, when I finally saw her and her behavior I stayed with her less and less.  Until I didn’t stay with her anymore at all.  I also stayed with her less and less because she would tell fire and brimstone stories trying to scare me into believing.  She referred to my mother as that “heathen” woman.  I now realize she was bitter and angry and felt as though life took her in a direction or directions she didn’t really want to go.  It does not justify her behavior.  It was appalling.

This is not to say that I don’t like religion.  It has not always been kind to the ones I love, and those wielding it have not always been kind to me either.  But I’m interested in it.  Sort of fascinated by it really.  I respect people of faith who are honest, humble, devout, and spiritual.  I know some fantastic people who are very religious, but who also love me, accept me, support me.  They know they should not speak for God.  They know they shouldn’t judge.  If you are Christian judgement is God’s job.  Not yours.  They know this.  I respect them and their faith.  It’s as big a part of them as being creative is a part of me.  They live it, walk it, talk it, see the world through it, and because they do they have grace.  Grace, by the way, I have not just seen in people who are christian, but that’s a story for another time.  Those people of religion I respect.  I even envy their conviction sometimes.  My fascination with religion lead me to take a few religion classes in college.  What I learned?  All religions hold the “do unto others” golden rule as a basic principle.  Do unto others…. I guess that to some people of religious faith the do unto others only counts if you are exactly like them, believe exactly like them, and love exactly like they want you to.

Marriage.  An institution.  If it were only performed in churches, maybe I would get it.  But nowadays, in these times, marriages are performed by judges and captains of ships as well.  They are legal and binding.  They afford those who are able to marry with certain rights given to them just because they got married.  We had to pay an attorney $1600 to get some of those same rights, and even still we don’t get all of them.  I don’t understand.  If your church pastor doesn’t want to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples, OK, I have no problem with that.  But don’t tell some other pastor of some other church who would be more than willing to marry us that he or she can’t.  Keep your beliefs, your faith, your upholding of what your interpretation of the bible is, but keep that for yourself.  Keep it for your family.  Don’t try decide for me who I can marry, how I should live, or what has meaning for me.  I’ve never understood how one group of people could look at another group of people and have the arrogance to believe they know what’s best for them.  And yes, I know there have been wars, and freedoms purchased with beliefs like that, but I’m not hurting anyone.  It’s like declaring war on a group of pacifists.  We don’t want to fight, or tell you how to live, or what you can or can’t do.  Why should you have the right to tell us?

I’m rambling, but these are the things I think when states, North Carolina in this case, gets involved in my life.  And again I’ll say… it’s a civil rights issue people.  The Constitution of the United States of AmericaArticle IV: Section 2: Clause 1 reads, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”  Amendment XIV  Section 1 states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” And I’m expected to adhere to Amendment XVI that reads, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” without being afforded the rights paying those taxes affords most of it’s citizens.  Is this fair or equal?  Not on your life.

The definition… “Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals‘ freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.”  Where are mine?  Where are the rights of so many of my friends who are good citizens as well, but who don’t have the civil rights of our neighbors, friends, co-workers, our families.  We are discriminated against.  And we are being repressed.

I guess what it all comes down to, as I know people on the other side of this issue have quotes of their own, interpretations of their own, and their own beliefs about what is and isn’t a right, is that  I’m tired of it.  I live in a country where all men and women aren’t created equally.  I thought we’d be better than this.  We can be.   We can be our best selves if we step out of fear and anger.  It’s possible.  Some day, for most of us, it is possible.  Someday we will live equally.  Someday we will.  I have hope for that.  I am hopeful.  Disappointed, again, but hopeful.  Even if some people of faith and conservative family values may never accept my relationship, it is just that… my relationship.  It infringes on no one.  I just wish, and am, again, hopeful for the day when my rights aren’t infringed on.  I’m hopeful a day will come when all men and women are created equally.  I’m hopeful for a time when people don’t fear my love for my woman and I don’t have to fear being treated differently or hurtfully because of my love for my woman.  I believe that day is coming.  It has to.

Family & Friends · Going Global · In The News · Opinion · Photography · Photos

Someday Soon…

Everyone knows how much I love Karen.  At least they should given the fact I plaster it all over Facebook and nearly all of my many blogs.  I do.  I love her.  She is life and breath and hope and happiness and joy and light and peace.  And those things, my friends, do not even begin to encompass what she is to me.  Suffice it to say she is big love.  We have big love.  Still.

Today I read that Prop 8 was ruled unconstitutional.  This is a lovely thing.  Wonderful.  And hopefully it is just the beginning of what will be a wave of equal rights and civil liberties running rampant across this country and throughout the world.  This is my hope.

I know there are some people who believe with everything they are that gay marriage is evil.  But seriously people, what’s it to you?  If you believe in God, and this is the reason for your objection, read scripture and you will find passages saying things like judge lest ye be judged and do unto others and love your fellow man as yourself.  If you believe God won’t approve, then let God decide.  That’s how it’s supposed to work.  You aren’t God.  Just sayin’.

I don’t believe I’m going to be judged.  I believe in love.  I believe in hope and happiness.  I believe my love is no less important than yours.  I believe that if Karen and I were allowed to marry legally this would not undermine what you consider to be traditional marriage. I don’t care who you marry, as long as it doesn’t hurt either party involved, and I expect that I should have the same rights as you.

I’ve found the someone I will spend the rest of my life with.  I’m lucky.  And someday soon I will be able to legally marry her in any and every state in this country.  I believe this to be true.  Today’s ruling gets us back on the right road.  We’re going to get there.  Slowly, maybe, but we will get there.  And when we do Karen and I will stand up in front of friends and family and say I do.  Just like we did privately 8 years ago on that beach in Hawaii.  Someday soon…

Family & Friends

There’s a Doctor in the House

I am so proud. I can’t even express how proud I am. I could cry with it.

I always said I didn’t want children. People would bring it up and I was always the one saying no, not me. Ever. Then a funny thing happened. I met Karen. She asked me, after we’d been seeing each other for awhile, if I wanted to have kids. She already had two, but was willing to have another if it was something I wanted. Strangely, I found myself wishing very much that I’d met her earlier in life. If I would have, I think we might have had one or two. It’s a strange thing to realize that it’s not that I didn’t want kids, I just didn’t want them until I was with the right person.

We talked a lot about it for some time. A LOT about it. We decided not to, which was very much a mutual decision (as is everything we do). And we are both very OK with that decision.

As I mentioned earlier in this little missive, Karen already had two children when we met. One of those kids, Mary, I’ve been around a lot and gotten to know very well. The other, Thomas, I haven’t been around as much and I’m hoping I’ll get to spend more time with him in the near future. What I am, to both of them actually, is a step parent. I didn’t think I would ever even be a parent, let alone a step parent, so being one has been surprising to me. At this point I can only really speak to my relationship with Mary, but then she is why I started writing this post in the first place.

Mary. I love this girl. More than I thought I ever could or would. As all step parents know it’s a tenuous thing, getting to know your partner’s children. You don’t know if you are going to like them, or worse yet, if they are going to like you. You hope so, but you don’t know. When I met Karen I knew the single most important person in her life, the one whose opinion mattered to her the most at that time, was Mary. Meeting her was one of the scariest things I’d done. I wanted her to approve of Karen’s choice in me. Luckily I think she did.

It has been sort of slow going… Mary and I really getting to know each other and getting close. We’ve never lived in the same town, let alone the same state or even country. We’ve had sets of weeks here and there over the last seven years when we’ve had this sort of crash course in developing our relationship. Yet somehow I feel like we have. I love the kid with all my heart. It’s an amazing feeling. Very big. Stunning really.

Today Mary went into a room, talked to some professor’s for an hour, and came out of that room with her PhD. She was awesome! Her mom and I both knew she would be. That’s Mary. The girl is tenacious and fantastically smart.

It’s been and is going to continue to be a terrific year for Mary…. getting married, getting her PhD, and in September, having our first grandchild. I am overwheled with happiness and pride. I am overwhelmed.

For a person who never thought I wanted kids I am now the proud parent of three… Mary, Martin (Mary’s fantastic husband who it would take a completely other post to talk about), and Thomas. For a person who wasn’t sure what it would be like to be a parent and wasn’t sure I even wanted to be one I can say this… It is, without a doubt, the most fantastic thing that has ever happened in my life, save for meeting Karen (which made this all possible in the first place). I am so proud of the person Mary is. So happy for her and the life she is living. I am lucky to be a part of it and so inspired every day by her. I also know I am a better person for knowing her. Mary, you amaze me.

Hey everyone… There’s a doctor in the house… Our kid is a doctor!

Family & Friends · Film

Modeling After a Minister

I happen to love the movie The Princess Bride. It’s up there in my top five I’d say. And it is to this favored movie of mine that I now turn for ideas about how to go about performing a proper marriage ceremony. Mary? Martin? What say you to this as an idea for how we should proceed….

Family & Friends · LiFe

Did I Mention….

How ecstatic we are about the upcoming nuptials?  I think I did, but let’s just say again… we are excited.  We are happy.  The plans are already forming… it’s going to be a blast.

This is the place they’re looking at for the ceremony…

Promontory Point

And as for the reception… check out the Redhead Piano Bar.