Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wedding Crashers

Yesterday morning I was listening to The California Report story on the first legal same-sex marriages in the state. It started with people's words; the one I liked the best was the Clerk Officer who said that she was so excited to be able to perform marriages for everyone that she had been in tears on her way to work Tuesday morning. I'm a wedding softie and I cry at every wedding, regardless of how well I know the couple. I was all choked up, listening to love on the radio.

So I decided that today I would go to the Alameda County Recorder's Office to give flowers to newlyweds (mixed-sex ones too). I just want to be a part of it! I'm in favor of love and hope and community and if a wedding isn't about those things I don't know what is. Plus, while it is civil obedience, it has the tinge of civil disobedience, especially as we are facing a November "marriage = man + woman" ballot measure. However, people are really starting to feel like we might win this time; the number 51% has been bandied about in terms of how many people are in favor of any adult being able to marry any other adult. I keep hearing, "We have more important things to worry about than who's marrying whom." Even if it passes, I heard on Forum that it doesn't mean that all these people's marriages will be annulled, since they were legal when they happened.

On my way from BART, I passed a woman about my age and four children walking in the other direction. The little boy was in black shorts and a tailcoat, the little girl in a flowergirl's dress, and the two older girls, who may have been junior high schoolers, were wearing formals. They girls and the woman were carrying flowers, and in response to something someone asked I heard the woman say, "We're helping to celebrate love!" When I came upon them, I said, "I am too!"

Knitty and I met near the County Recorder's Building and took the elevator up to the "wedding room," which has several quilts designed on the theme of marriage and three pews. We sat in the anteroom with glitter-spinkled purple daisies and waited for something to happen. We absolutely didn't know what to expect, though neither of us were expecting just the two of us chatting quietly for about half an hour. Finally, a Clerk came in followed by a man and two women who appeared to be in their early 50's. Knitty figured out the man and which woman were the marrying couple; when they came out I offered the bride a daisy. She declined, saying the flower would die by the time they got back to Concord, but I think she may have just been terribly shy.

The second couple were a pair of young African Americans, along with about half a dozen parental types. The bride was wearing a short white dress perfect for today's heat and the groom was in a gold and black silk shirt that made him look like a million bucks. I offered the bride a daisy and she smiled and thanked me. The third couple, handsome South Asians or Middle Easterners in their mid-20s, were joined by three friends, one of whom was wearing a hijab. When they came out and I offered my congratulations, the groom took the flower and enthusiastically shook my hand.

So it wasn't exactly what we thought it would be. Knitty pointed out that maybe all the hoopla had happened here on Tuesday, or if it was still happening was happening in San Francisco. No and KT got married at SF's City Hall and it is a much jazzier place to tie the knot, it must be said. Still, I was happy with and for the people we saw in the 90 minutes we were there, even if they were all female/male couples. Because of Odyssey, and after returning from the Pacific Northwest, I am very appreciative of the diversity of cultures and races here.

Knitty told me that I was really brave for giving flowers and congratulations to strangers. I told her that I'm a dork. I'm just more willing than some to be a dork to strangers. Especially in the cause of love, hope, and community.

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