This Saturday, July 22, 2017, is Bride Pride Provincetown 2017. Come and join in the celebration of 100 couples (we hope) trying to get into the Guinness book of records. As Karen and I are preparing to renew our vows, I wanted to share our marriage history, and why this Saturday will be an equally important day in the story of our life together.
April 29, 2000: Surrounded by thousands of other gay and lesbian couples participating in a mock marriage ceremony on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the Millennium March on Washington, and four years into our relationship, we realized we needed to say our vows for real! The ceremony was extremely emotional for all the couples present, we hugged and shared tears at the reality that we couldn’t marry the loves of our lives. However, we were so lucky to be living in Vermont at the time, and civil unions was about to come into effect on July 1st. We were leaving to live in London in August, so we had to move quickly.
We got home from Washington, and with bags hardly unpacked, we started planning our civil union ceremony and wedding.
There was much ugly debate leading up to the passage of the bill, of course, but the strong voices of straight friends and allies helped to buffer the hate.
We were delighted to learn that we were the first same-sex couple to apply for (and get) a civil union licence in our town, Chester, Vermont.
July 22, 2000: 21 days after the Vermont Civil Unions law went into effect, Karen and I got married. Well, ‘civilly unionised’… that is. We committed our lives and love to each other in front of friends and family who had flown in from all over the world (we’d both lived international lives and had friends from all over) – pretty impressive considering we only gave them 7 weeks notice!
We’ll never forget the love that was showered on us that day. We know many others are not so lucky and we value this day and our loved ones deeply.
May 17, 2004: Marriage Equality in Massachusetts, finally! We had planned to participate in a group wedding with 7 other couples from our U.U. church in Northboro, MA on May 29, 2004, just days after the law came into effect, but it wasn’t to be. I was living in the U.S. on an H1B work visa, and my immigration attorney advised that if my green card application was not successful, and I was trying to enter the U.S at some future time on a tourist visa and didn’t have any legal right to stay, but was married to a U.S. citizen, I would be perceived as a threat to overstay and may be denied entry. Convoluted, but true. This was all thanks to DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act)! Pretty messed up when you think about it! The group wedding was such a joyous day. However it was also completely heartbreaking for us not to be wedding with our friends on such a special occasion.
July 11, 2008: After a lengthy immigration process, and with green card securely in hand, we legally married in a small ceremony in our garden in Massachusetts. Gaining the legal rights and protections not afforded by our civil union was our main motivation for getting married, as we considered our civil union our true wedding – a huge lovefest that we celebrate every year.
And so that brings us to this Saturday… it seems we are fortunate enough to always be in the right place at the right time!
July 22, 2017: Bride Pride! When we learned that Bride Pride fell on our anniversary, we knew we had to participate. To be surrounded by countless other lesbian couples expressing their commitment to each other for the first time, or renewing their vows as we will be doing, will not only be an incredibly emotional and moving experience, but it’s still a political statement as it was 17 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
As Bride Pride organisers Ilene Mitnick and Alli Baldwin have expressed, now more than ever it’s time we all come together, to stand up, and to keep moving LGBTQ rights forward. While both New Zealand and the U.S. have marriage equality, it’s still a basic civil right not afforded in many other countries. To think that our Australian brothers and sisters still don’t have marriage equality, and have to fly across to NZ to tie the knot, it is antiquated and unjust! While we celebrate the rights we now enjoy, and thank those who paved the way before us, we must also stay vigilant and continue to fight for those who do not share these rights.
So thank you Ilene and Alli. This lesbian couple is so excited be part of Bride Pride 2017, to renew our vows, and to celebrate that no matter what, love is love. And with Kate Clinton officiating! Does it get any better?
Best wishes to all the other brides who will be saying their vows on Saturday, whether it be the first time, or the third. May your lives be filled with happiness and love, and may you appreciate each other every day.
We’d love to hear your story, so please, share in the comments section below.
Stay tuned for Bride Pride pics! It’s going to be a blast.