Lance + Jeff + Marriage Equality

marriage equalityWe live in some amazing times.

As a blog that every-once-in-a-while discusses a marriage between two dudes, I suppose it would be slightly irresponsible to our three readers (hi, Mom and Dad! And person from Singapore!) if I didn’t address the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases in front of the Supreme Court this week, and what they mean to me and us.

Regardless of whether or not the Supreme Court affirms, overturns or invalidates California’s Proposition 8, the tide is turning.  Marriage equality has already won.  As the basically infalliable Nate Silver points out, support for marriage equality has increased about 2% every year over the last decade and a half.  Neither DOMA nor Proposition 8 nor many of the state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage which passed over the past ten years would’ve even been seriously considered today.  To paraphrase analyst (and kinda creep-o) Jeffrey Toobin, the war for marriage equality in the United States is basically over, though the battles (and there are many still) remain.

Like I said, though: we living in amazing, remarkable times, especially from the viewpoint of a young gay man who saw my home state deny my right to marry in 2002 2004; ten years less than ten years later, I legally wed my partner in our nation’s capital.

We have a president who fully supports marriage equality, as does nearly half the Senate.  Nine states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages, and just this past election, Maryland and Washington state were the first states to enact same-sex marriages by popular vote.  Though leaving civil rights up to the population goes against the 14th Amendment and all that, I’ll let these two states slide, since it demonstrates that, yep, we’re on the cusp of change.

This may all be a bit naive.  If the Supreme Court tosses the Proposition 8 case as many are suspecting after oral arguments on Tuesday, no massive change will have occurred; things remain with the status quo, still too slow to curb bullying, too slow to convince LGBTQ youth that there’s something better out there than the quick release of suicide.

But to those youth, I say, yeah, it does get better.  Look at the numbers, man–it’s actually getting better before our eyes.  It might be slow, but a 30-plus point reversal in public opinion in the last 15 years is massive.    You see all those red and pink equality signs on Facebook? Those people have your back.  Did I ever think, as I was figuring out who I was in the early 2000s, that I’d be able to be married and generally un-harassed and surrounded by a strong network of people who either fervently support my rights or at least say, “eh, who cares?”

Marriage equality is coming at the federal and state level.  Non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation will become more prevalent.  State bans will be overturn.  Eventually, the Supreme Court will consider same-sex marriage protected by the Equal Rights Amendment–they’ll have to from a practical perspective, since how long can the country go with half of its states recognizing some marriages but not others?

I will be able to actually check off “married” on my tax returns, and I’ll be able to do it soon.

Happy Marriage License Day!

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The other day, my parents sent us a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory.  Inside the card read: “Happy Marriage License Day!”

Two years ago today, Lance and I got legally wed (which you can read about here).  There was never any question about a “commitment ceremony” or “civil union” or “legal marriage.”  Though we’re two dudes, we’re traditional in a lot of ways, and this was one of them.  Being legally married, no matter which states or countries actually recognized said union, was just something we had to do.

It’s been a whirlwind two years, sure–extensive travels, two moves, adding a dog to our Furry Friend Gang–but I, at least, don’t measure our marriage by this anniversary, except to have an excuse to go out to dinner (usually on my dime, too. DANG IT!)

No. Lance and I have always been married.  We’ve always been attached to each other (not in the Side Show way, but close), been open with each other, fought with each other just like a married couple, ever since we met.

We developed an acronym for each other not long after we met, which we still use today: P.N.F.F. Which stands for “Partner ‘N’ Friend Forever.” (how revolting cute, I know.)

Much love to you today and every day, my P.N.F.F.

Oh…and you’ve got a two-drink limit at dinner tonight. I’m not Daddy Warbucks or anything.

The Pizza Code

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There’s something truly gratifying about “cracking” your partner’s secret language, coming to understand their implicit cues and body language.  Especially when you’re pretty dense, like myself.

This isn’t even something I considered until it dawned on me one day that Lance was saying something but meaning something completely different.  It was the same question he’d ask me at least once a week:  “So….what do you want for dinner?”

For months–if not years!–we went back and forth for a half an hour before finally deciding to just order a pizza.  And then there came the day, after experiencing this dozens of times, that I realized Lance only asks that question when he doesn’t want to cook, but is too unmotivated (or broke!) to go out to a restaurant.

“What do you want for dinner” was code (you guessed it!) for pizza.

Now, instead of wasting a half-hour on failing miserably to come to a compromise, I know right away that we’re just going to order pizza and I can spend the next 29 minutes watching old episodes of Louie on Netflix.

Other examples of Lance’s Code include:

  • The “I’m not answering your e-mail so I don’t have to acknowledge whatever you’re proposing” trick (I’m pretty sure Lance swore, “Sonofabitch!” when he found out that I broke this code);
  • The “We need to do X” play, which really means, “You need to do this because I don’t want to, and I’m trying to be diplomatic.” 

Of course, this isn’t to say that I’m without my own “code”–hell, I’m arguably the most passive-aggressive person you’ll ever know. We’re all about codes!–but I’ll leave that to Lance to detail in another post.

Valentine’s Gays

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Valentine’s Day is stupid, but so are all holidays, if you think about it.

People say that Valentine’s Day was created by Hallmark and Russell Stover to make you buy their stuff.  People complain that you should be all cute and warm and fuzzy toward your partner every day of the year, not just February 14th.

That’s all true, BUT where are the people pooping all over Flag Day or National Free Iced Coffee Day?

Every holiday is established to set aside a particular day to commemorate something specifically: veterans, presidents, organized labor, explorers who enslaved native peoples and began a horrific, centuries-long genocide.  These are all people we should remember throughout the year, not just on their “day,” so why should Love be any different?

So I’m not one to dump all over Valentine’s Day, though the way it’s traditionally sold to people (chocolates, flowers) isn’t really   our thing.  We usually go out to dinner, maybe exchange a card; one year, we went to go see Teeth.  (Yes, that Teeth.)

Yesterday, though, we literally ordered a pizza and watched an old episode of “Parks & Recreation.”  It was the first night in our new place where we weren’t running a bunch of errands or unpacking or moving a bunch of stuff, and there was nothing we wanted more than to just get into some PJs and relax.  And it was wonderful.

Valentine’s Day, like any holiday, is what you make of it.  It’s only dumb if you ascribe to a bunch of preconceived notions about what the holiday is supposed to be and don’t infuse it with your personal spin.

All holidays are dumb, but they can be great.  Except for Sweetest Day. That’s pretty dumb.

The Lance+Jeff Wedding: Bonus Features

I mentioned in our last post that Lance and I decided it would be fun to have little comics featuring the two of us scattered throughout our reception.  Through the help of GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program, basically a free version of Photoshop) and the free version of Comic Life (since I wasn’t about to spend $14.99 on the full-featured version, hell no!), we came up with the following.  I printed them up as 11″x14″ glossy posters on Vistaprint, and they were perched on little easels around our reception:
spidey

Candles_5-4

chickenfingers

Ariel_final

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I will admit that this is a very mean joke at the expense of not only Tony-nominated Emily Skinner, but at myself, since Lance always calls me names like “porker” and “chunk-butt” due to my weight. ::SOB!::

paintings_5-6 Storm_in full color!_2

I also hand-painted this one, which was on display as people were entering the reception:

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Lance: “Uhh…you’re not going to dance, are you?”
Jeff: “I won’t dance as long as you don’t sing.”
Lance: “Deal.”

All said, it was a way for us to try and capture our personalities and interests in a cute little way, keeping consistent with the cartoon versions of ourselves which we introduced in our Save-the-Dates.

My dad was really insistent, encouraging us to continue our little cartoon adventures online, which is why the Lance+Jeff blog exists in the first place!  Thanks, Pop!

The Second Lance+Jeff Wedding, Brought To You By All Of My Money

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Yup, this is the one where we paid for a real photographer.

As I mentioned in my last post, we split our actual legal marriage from the ceremony and reception. We had to cross several state lines in order to get our certificate and D.C. isn’t enough of a “destination” to ask our friends and family to make the trek down there.

Instead, our pals Christie and Rich offered up their beautiful abode to host our reception, which was great, especially since we were paying for everything ourselves (with some help from my parents) and we didn’t have a ton of money to spend on a venue and hors d’oeuvres and stuff.

Pretty much everything about our reception was casual, handmade, and pieced together by yours truly (Lance did undergo an exhaustive search for the perfect wedding scents [Bath & Body Work’s Coconut Leaves and Seaside Escape], though. So there’s that…) (more…)

The First Lance+Jeff Wedding, Brought To You By The Cheesecake Factory

Man, getting gay married is a pain in the ass.

Sure, we could’ve just done a commitment ceremony and signed some domestic partner documents in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, but we really wanted to stick it to the Straight Man, y’know?  As Lance’s spiritual advisor, Dolly Parton, says, “Why can’t they get married? They should suffer like the rest of us do.”

In order to do a real honest-to-goodness marriage in the spring of 2011, our options were limited: most of New England (too far), Iowa (super too far), and the District of Columbia.  California, like a bunch of buttheads, let us down with that stupid Proposition 8; we totally would’ve done a combo marriage/honeymoon in your beautiful state if it wasn’t 52.24% full of intolerant jags.

So, that left us with Washington, D.C., a pleasant two-and-a-half hour car ride from Philadelphia.

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Proof we were in D.C. at all: the wonderful honeycomb of the D.C. Metro. Riding this was way more exciting than the “getting married” part of the trip!

This doesn’t matter as much now that both Maryland and New York allow same-sex marriages, but if you’re keen on getting married in our nation’s capital, you should check out this website on how to do it, especially if you’re from another state.  It’s what I used to try and figure out all we needed to do in order to get legally wed.  This meant driving down to apply for a marriage license in person, and then there’s a waiting period of three-plus days before they will actually issue you the official paperwork.  The wonderful people who work in the marriage bureau also won’t confirm a specific day and time to your ceremony when you submit your application; you have to call back at a later time to do that, since red tape is great.

Anyway, we decided to get officially, legally married on March 14, since Lance has some sort of cosmic relationship with the number “314” (there is no actual explanation for this; just know that it has nothing to do with pi).  We’d save the ceremony and reception (and gift acceptance period) for the summer.

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Look at these gorgeous, romantic decorations! BEAUTIFUL.

My parents drove down from Michigan, and Lance’s family came down from Pennsylvania that morning.  This was big for us, particularly Lance, since it was just a few months before that the ice began to melt and his family started acknowledging Lance as the person he really is rather than a person not living up to the standards their church deems worthy (whatever, I could go off on a big ol’ tangent about this, but it’s not funny and not my story to tell, so moving along…) Regardless of all that, it was incredibly significant that our families were there, and it meant a great deal.

I sometimes get righteous and indignant about how that’s just the way it should’ve been and we shouldn’t have wondered if anybody was going to show up because this is LOVE, gosh darnit, regardless of if it’s two dudes, two chicks, or some combination in-between…but I had the luxury of incredibly supportive parents from Day One, and that’s not the world we live in (yet), so I should just shut up.

Anyway…

We had an awesomely jovial justice of the peace presiding over the ceremony; he reminded me a little of the goofy Hank Hooper from 30 Rock, mustache and all.  He read off some spiel about a non-denominational God and the Huey Lewis and the News’s Power of Love, we signed some paperwork and then we were officially, legally hitched.

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Gay marriage is difficult enough. I can’t imagine the headache and paperwork of a gay divorce. You’re stuck with me, Boo!

After the rather quick ceremony, we headed into Alexandria for a celebratory lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.

…Waitaminute.  I’m noticing a trend here…