I'm not a big fan of change, but if things are going to be changing anyway, then we may as well do all of it at once. (This is otherwise known as "As long as the noose is around my neck, I may as well jump off the horse" logic.)
The husband and I applied for a marriage license yesterday, though we are not going to be going forward with the actual ceremony immediately, because certain house-related things work out more neatly if we don't get married until after I'm done with my job. But this is kind of close enough for now anyway. Our apartment manager, who was also our real estate agent, graciously agreed (on really short notice) to serve as our witness1 for the application, and consequently is so totally getting a houseplant or a flower arrangement or something.2
The date is also significant.
On April 30, 1997, twelve years ago, a few minutes after the end of the much-hyped "Ellen" episode where Ellen officially came out as gay (even though everybody knew for like, months before, and were sick of hearing about it already by the time it aired), I called my parents and told them I am gay. This wasn't because I was especially bonded to Ellen DeGeneres or anything: I like her, and I had watched the show, which was funny enough as sitcoms went, but it wasn't like I felt that if Ellen was coming out then I had to as well. It was more just, it had been increasingly difficult to talk to Mom and Dad about anything that was going on in my life around that time: among other things, I'd just gotten back from an abortive 64-day move to DC, involving an ex who I'd not been entirely willing to think of as "ex" yet,3 and although I talked to Mom on the phone a lot, at least weekly, not being able to acknowledge the nature of our relationship -- or, increasingly, any of my other relationships -- made for some awkwardness.
They took it better than anticipated, though it'd be a stretch to say they took it well. I was kind of a wreck before and after also, as far as that goes. Which is another story, for another time. The point being, that was the date. At that time, there was a little bit of talk about gay marriage in Hawaii, possibly, enough to scare people into passing Defense of Marriage Acts all over the place,4 but nobody seriously believed that it would be legal anytime soon.
So there's been a lot of change already, I guess is my point. Fairly recently, a CBS poll showed a jump of nine percentage points in one month of respondents who favored full marriage equality, to 42% of the U.S. population, and an ABC poll this week came up with an even higher number, 49%. That would basically have been unthinkable to me twelve years ago: my expectation was that when I did get married, it would have to be a ceremony with no legal significance, and it'd be regarded as weird at best, offensive at worst. Instead, it looks like we're going to get the legal significance without the ceremony, and most people won't really give a crap. Which would be delightful.
By the way: the recorder who helped us with the application said that Monday (the first day same-sex couples could marry in Iowa) was pretty crazy for them, and Tuesday was nearly as bad, Wednesday was pretty slow, and then Thursday would have been slow except that everybody from Monday was coming back to pick up their licenses. We didn't see any other couples when we were there. She also said that they had sixteen or seventeen (I forget which) couples coming up from Missouri on a bus tomorrow to get married. Apparently then they'll go back to Missouri and say they're married and gin up a court case or two when they find some people in Missouri who don't recognize this. It's unfortunate that lawmakers don't seem particularly interested in considering the constitutionality of laws when they're making them, that everything has to go through this process of being challenged and sorted out, but better that than have legislators passing any old law that flits through their heads. That would be terrible.
I have an aunt and uncle who will be doing everything in their power (which is not very extensive, but still) to prevent the Missouri people's marriages from being recognized: I wish the various couples luck.
The actual official marriage will probably be in June, though I dislike the idea of having a June wedding (just 'cause everybody else does it: November or December are more my months, but that's a long time to wait). That's when my job will be over. It'll probably be really low-key and anticlimactic, but that's okay.
We do have some concerns, still, about moving to a small town (and by small, I mean small: under 1200 people). We'd really rather not be everybody's first married gay couple. I feel enough like a target as it is.5
So that's the last of the bombshells. Getting the marriage license was mostly just surreal. We'll be back to plant-related content tomorrow, though after all this it's going to seem awfully trivial, I'm afraid.
1 Amusingly, the Iowa marriage application calls this role "Competent and Disinterested Person," rather than the clearer but less precise "witness." I would love to have a competent and disinterested person around at all times.
2 Why her? Well, it turns out that there are not actually very many people who know both of us in the area, and even fewer who would conceivably be available on short notice to do something like this, for one thing, and for another thing, she has a gay brother in Vermont, who is I believe civil-unioned there and who will (one assumes) be getting married in September when Vermont starts doing that. So we were guessing that she's basically okay with the general concept. According to her husband, who I spoke to for a little bit this afternoon, she and her brother were sort of bragging on their respective states for being the third state to legalize (Iowa) or the first state to legalize legislatively, rather than judicially (Vermont), so one supposes participation in a gay wedding gives her more points from which to argue, or something. She didn't say, and we didn't really talk about it: she had other things to do.
3 The DC period was a miserable time, though the misery wasn't because of the ex. Culture shock, undiagnosed clinical depression (I'm pretty sure.), graduating college without any kind of plan for what to do next, a week of the flu, and various other things, but not really the ex so much.
4 Which I'd never known exactly what the DOMAs actually said until today: they're apparently primarily there to ensure that the states with DOMAs don't have to honor same-sex marriages performed in other states, even if they were legal in those other states. Some states have actually gone further and pre-emptively banned civil union sorts of arrangements as well. At this point, there's a law or constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in every state except New Mexico (hasn't passed anything one way or the other), Iowa/Connecticut/Massachusetts (have full marriage equality), Vermont (will have full marriage equality as of September), New York, DC, and Rhode Island (will honor marriages performed elsewhere), and New Jersey (has civil unions). Every other state prohibits SSM to some degree or another, though several states (WA, OR, CA, CO, HI, MD, NH, ME) have one set of laws approving some form of same-sex partnership and one set banning, simultaneously, which will need to be worked out at some point in the near future.
5 Not that people in small towns in Iowa can't also be perfectly accepting and friendly and everything else, or that big city folk are always live-and-let-live about everything: I've met one Iowa City resident who looked like your run of the mill sweet little old lady, but had a personality that could strip the paint off the walls, set the paint chips on fire, and then turn the ashes to poisonous snakes. It's just that small-towns are sort of known for everybody being all up in everybody else's business, and this is kind of a weird thing to walk into deliberately, given the circumstances.