It had been five years since Seongman had proposed to me. It's been a long time since we bought and exchanged beautiful rings and registered as domestic partners to publicly show our love and devotion to one another. Since then we've lived a quiet, loving life, shared with our two dogs and two cats in our humble home. Life has been good, but we wanted the validation of marriage.
Seongman called me from work the night the marriage legislation in New York passed and told me the news. I was ecstatic! I spent the next few hours combing the web for more updates on the wonderful news and dream of all of its implications.
Our daily lives won't change much with the new state law, but it's a critical step in the fight for the freedom to marry. We knew we just had to be part of the first group to be married, so we registered on the first day possible. We struggled with the news that we'd need to win a lottery to secure a space on day one – Sunday, July 24th – but in the end everyone who registered won a spot in the lottery and we were set. We put the dogs in Camp Bow Wow, picked up the tuxes and prepared for our big day. Seongman had to work the night before and met me at 6am so we'd be among the first couples in line for that magical day.
A beautiful mosaic of love filled that line! A wonderful group with rainbow colored umbrellas shielded us from protesters and sang 'Going To The Chapel' so we wouldn't hear their hateful rants. Brilliant! We must have spoken to two dozen reporters from around the world while we were in line.
Our judge told us we were his first same-sex couple, and delivered such beautiful words. I cried and caused the judge to cry as well...he even requested a picture with us. It was just so beautiful. With those words we felt respect. Our love felt validated. Finally.
As we left the clerks office we were greeted by cheers from ACLU staffers and well wishers. A photo of Seongman and I kissing as I held the marriage certificate was picked up by the Associated Press and is literally all over the world. We love that the world is seeing that our love is valid!
The rest of the day was filled with fancy places with food and drink and an amazing wedding reception where we met Lt. Dan Choi – who was discharged from the army under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – and Star Trek’s George Takei, a couple of my personal civil rights heroes. We wound down our festivities at an upscale piano bar where strangers celebrated our marriage in song, allowing us to be distracted by our social media updates. We just couldn't stop checking and reveling in the outpouring of love coming our way from our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ followers who had seen the marriage certificate I'd posted earlier in the day.
Personally, we just had to be a part of the proud historic day when New York's couples could finally enjoy the dignity, respect and legal rights that only happens with marriage...and this is a great step toward federal recognition of the freedom to marry. Everyone that values fairness, families and love should feel proud!
We'll keep fighting until the federal government recognizes the relationships of every lesbian and gay couple who choose to marry in every state. We hope Congress has the courage to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. If they will do this, it would repeal one of the most discriminatory pieces of legislation in our history – the Defense of Marriage Act – and provide ALL married couples certainty that wherever they travel in the U.S. , they wont be treated as strangers under federal law.
My marriage to Seongman on July 24th, 2011 was the happiest day of my life, even though our marriage is not recognized by the federal government. Yet.