Two people meet and fall in love. They buy a house in the suburbs. They get a golden retriever.
You know how the story goes. They get married, have kids and are still living out the American Dream.
Only, that's not how THIS story goes. Because the two people happen to be the same gender. And in this country, they have not been allowed to marry. The pursuit of happiness and liberty and justice for all? Only if you're heterosexual. Says so in the Bible, don't you know?
But today, in California, gay couples can legally wed. So at 10 a.m., my two wonderful neighbors went with one of their moms and a niece to the county courthouse. There was definitely trepidation. Neither knew what to expect. Because their pre-wedding jitters involved wondering not about whether the band would show up, but if, when they saw a small crowd right by the building, they would get insults hurled at them like rotten tomatoes. But no - it was a group of supporters, whose applause ushered them in.
A woman performed the civil ceremony. They worried she'd be dismissive. In Bakersfield, the county clerk stopped officiating any marriages rather than preside over same-sex joinings. Happily, this clerk was perfect.
"When she said, 'And now, by the power vested in me by the State of California..' that was the most amazing moment," one of my neighbors said.
Then there was cake.
I honestly don't understand why anyone would begrudge them their happiness. They've been together for 15 years - longer than most marriages. They walk their dog, who they nursed through lymphoma, every morning. They work at the same school. They drive a hybrid.
They always stop to say hi when they see me or the kids. Just like all our neighbors.
It seems to me that there are those who have a very clear cut version of what the world should be. And if you don't conform, not only are you wrong, you are somehow personally injuring them. They quote the Bible and shout blasphemy. Frankly, that doesn't seem very Christian of them, to love only those who are like them.
Even if G-d didn't approve, what do they care? Judge not.
The divorce rate in this country isn't exactly a testament to the sanctity of marriage. Maybe there's room for something different.
Ellen DeGeneres said it so well, when she gently chided Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain on her show: “We are all the same people, all of us. You’re no different than I am. Our love is the same. When someone says, ‘You can have a contract, and you’ll still have insurance, and you’ll get all that,’ it sounds to me like saying, ‘Well, you can sit there, you just can’t sit there.’ "
For the first time, a recent Field Poll showed Californians favor granting gays the right to marry 51 percent to 42 percent.
So maybe we're starting to come around. That's never been an issue on our little street, buried in the foothills of one of the most conservative counties in the country.
The two of them stood on the sidewalk late this afternoon, wearing dark suits and boutonnieres. I hugged them. They were on their way to a celebratory dinner. Their first as a married couple.
They had been pronounced Spouse and Spouse, partners forever.
Not that they needed the ceremony to confirm it. But it's great, just like David and me, that they got the chance.
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