Chicks Getting Hitched: Marriage equality sweeps the nation

Happy almost Thanksgiving, American readers (and hi to our international friends!). Wow, do we have a lot to be thankful this year, or what?

My last column ran on the day before America’s presidential election. That column was a plea to our Republican “friends” to choose marriage equality over a few bucks in tax breaks by voting for Barack Obama. While I’m not claiming complete and total responsibility for Obama’s re-election, I am pleased as punch to report that both my cousin and my fiancée’s former colleague emailed me after they read that column to tell me I had convinced them not to vote for Mitt Romney – and they lived in Florida and Texas, respectively, where every last Democratic vote matters. So, I can take credit for .0000000000000000000000001% of Obama’s win. I’m guessing some of the Republicans in your lives had similar changes of heart because many of you shared my column far and wide Facebook, Twitter and in personal emails to friends and relatives. Thank you for that and nice work, guys! We won!

Photo by Getty Images/Win McNamee

Obama’s victory was a sweet one, and the cherry on top was the record number of states that voted for marriage equality on that very same night. People in Maryland, Maine and Washington voted to legalize same-sex marriage on November 6, and the good folks of Minnesota voted against a constitutional ban on gay marriage. We’re up to 10 states where lesbian and gay couples can legally get hitched – and a sea change in favor of marriage equality now feels imminent. I look forward to a lot more photos like this one of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley ceremoniously signing marriage equality bills.

Photo by Getty Images/Washington Post contributor

In my home state of Illinois, openly gay State Rep. Greg Harris recently told the Windy City Times that he might capitalize on the lame duck session to bring his marriage equality bill up for a vote. His hope (and mine) is that some lame duck Republicans who secretly support gay marriage will vote for it now that they don’t have to worry about pandering to homophobic voters. Here’s what Harris told the Windy City Times:

We have some opportunities to move legislation in the veto session and we just need to be prepared. Time is certainly with us. We’re just right on the edge.

It does feel like we’re “right on the edge,” doesn’t it? Something definitely has shifted in this country. Equality is in the air, and I predict that states will start falling like dominoes, one by one, but rapidly, in favor of marriage equality. That’s great news, but it does present us with a new question to answer: If you’re already married, what do you do when marriage equality becomes the law of the land in your home state?

Trust me, I’m not complaining – this is a good problem to have. But, it does present some logistical challenges. I’m planning a large and traditional wedding to take place in Chicago in January. In my heart (and my checking account) I will be married, regardless of what the Illinois government says. But unless Rep. Harris works his legislative magic very quickly, what I will technically be is civil unioned. The day of my wedding, legal or not, will forever mark the start of my marriage as far as I’m concerned. But when marriage equality does pass (which it will – in my state and yours), I’ll feel compelled to celebrate again, to mark the monumental occasion in some special way.

I’m fairly confident my 150 guests won’t travel to Chicago for yet another elaborate, but now legal, wedding with me. And I am 100% positive my wife-to-be will never, ever undertake the gargantuan, stressful, maddening, romance-killing task of planning a wedding with me – so long as she shall live. So, what to do?

One cute-as-pie Maryland couple has come up with a clever and attention-grabbing solution. Chris and Shawn Riley married in a civil ceremony in Washington DC in 2010, but now they are planning a “< ahref=’” target=”_blank”>Big Gay Public Wedding” to take place in April. The Rileys are inviting every person who voted yes on Maryland’s Question 6, which legalized same-sex marriage in the state, to attend their public (and now legally-sanctioned) ceremony. In lieu of gifts, they’re asking anyone who attends their wedding ceremony to donate $5 to the Human Rights Campaign.

What a wonderful idea, but most of us don’t have the inclination or stamina to take on such a large second wedding. I know I don’t – planning a wedding is hard work, y’all. But I do know I won’t be able to let the historic moment pass without doing something.

My obvious preference would be for my marriage to be legal on my wedding day, but from a glass-half-full perspective, the legalization of same-sex marriage laws after many gay couples have already tied the knot does give us a unique opportunity. It gives us a do-over, of sorts, possibly to plan a shindig that is the opposite of your first wedding. If you had a big wedding where you barely had a chance to talk to your wife, this could be a great time for a truly romantic private celebration. On the other hand, if you quietly got a civil union or registered as domestic partners years ago, without so much as a glass of champagne, legal marriage is an excellent excuse to plan the fairy-tale wedding you’ve always dreamed of.

I haven’t even finished planning my first wedding, but in a neurotic manner that comes so naturally to me, I can’t help but start thinking about how I’ll celebrate when same-sex marriage is legalized in my state. Maybe I’ll put on my 40-pound ball gown and go down to City Hall with just my wife to legally tie the knot in a private moment and then the two of us will go out for burgers dressed in our wedding attire. Or maybe, I’ll put on my 40-pound ball gown and host an intimate brunch for just my immediate family and closest friends. Perhaps I’ll put on my 40-pound ball gown and invite everyone I know to cram into my tiny urban backyard for a “marriage equality barbeque” with hot dogs and beer. Maybe I’ll just put on my 40-pound ball gown, defrost that piece of frozen wedding cake (typically intended to be eaten on a couple’s first wedding anniversary) and devour it in bed with my one true love – secure in the knowledge that our union is now legal and we no longer have to diet in preparation for a wedding.

Photo by Getty Images/Jutta Klee

I don’t know exactly how my future wife and I will celebrate the passage of our state’s marriage equality law (aside from the fact that I clearly will exploit it as an opportunity to wear my wedding dress for a second time), but it’s a day I’m already looking forward to.

Let’s inspire each other: How did you celebrate marriage equality when it passed in your state? Or, for you lucky Washington, Maine and Maryland couples, what will you do when the (second) big day arrives?