So Close and Yet So Far
Last week, the place where TDL and I live made national news when our county’s Register of Wills stated he would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the law banning it in our state. His action came on the heels of our state Attorney General’s announcement that she would not defend the ban after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA.
Subsequent news coverage of the events featured pictures and stories of the couples who presented at the courthouse for licenses. Some had been with their partners for decades. Some brought their children with them. I recognized a friend of mine in one of the photographs. A few couples opted to waive the three-day waiting requirement and were married on the spot.
Predictably, both the AG’s and the county official’s announcements were hailed by some and condemned by others. Local legal analysts debated the validity of the licenses. The Pro-Life Coalition organized a prayer-in at the courthouse to protest. And Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, went crazy.
It caused a ripple in our household as well.
With the opportunity so literally, tantalizingly near, my first impulse was to grab TDL and race to the courthouse immediately. The county seat was only a fifteen-minute drive away. I glanced at the clock. An hour from now, we could be holding that magical piece of paper in our hands.
TDL got down to practicalities. “Let’s pick a day next week,” she said. “We’ll call out sick from work and we can get married right then and there.”
We huddled over the calendar. Thursday was good for both of us. But suddenly, I frowned. “I don’t know, maybe we should wait. I don’t want to get married out of panic.”
Her voice was quizzical. “You don’t mind that it’d be just the two of us, do you?”
“No, not at all. But I’ve got that ‘here we go again’ feeling.”
“You’re worried because the state won’t recognize the licenses. Because it won’t count until the law is changed. I say, let’s just do it! It’s not what we planned, but it’s all we’ve got right now. We always said we wanted to be married in our own state.”
“Don’t you see? I’m tired of this, of just going through the motions. I don’t want to have another symbolic ceremony. How many times have we done that?”
“Honey, I’ll marry you as many times as I need to!” TDL exclaimed.
I shook my head, “But not this way. It doesn’t feel right. It feels . . .” I swallowed hard, and struggled for the right words. I didn’t understand it myself, really. Opportunity beckoned. Why was I hesitating now?
“But I’m also afraid this is going to be our only chance. Suppose it’s over in a few weeks? And then we have to wait for who knows how many more years.”
She grinned tenderly at me. For an instant the years disappeared, and the girl I’d met so long ago was sitting in front of me. Back then, I used to tell her those twinkling dark eyes reminded me of the moon shining on a deep lake at midnight. I felt myself falling, falling again into those depths, trusting that whatever happens, we’ll face the future together, unafraid.
She folded my hand into both of hers. “It’s going to happen, I promise,” she said softly. “ For real, no do-overs. And when it does, we’ll take our time. We’ll plan it exactly the way we want to. So we can savor every minute.”
It’s been a week, and our local news coverage has been steady. Each day I view images and read the stories of couples like TDL and me. I’m happy for them and glad their wait is over. And one of these days, ours will be, too.