Yesterday at 5:01 PM, California became the second state in which every person can get married, without regard to sexuality. Other states grant the rights and privileges of marriage under a different name, but only California and Massachusetts take the final step to equality by using the same name for everyone.
As a result of this new policy, my fellow Kansas blogger Mike Silverman is now married (and not just in Canada any more)! We met to catch up on old times on Sunday (Mike was in town for Apple’s WWDC, and stayed to get married). He had to split at 4:30, because ABC News had a camera crew picking him up so they could meet his husband-to-be at the airport.
The day will come when loving couples from Kansas will not have to seek refuge in other states simply to get a taste of what heterosexual couples come to regard as mundane. But that’s what Mike and Dave had to do. They had to flee their homes, at least briefly, in order to get a mere taste of equality. And that’s wrong.
Straight couples in Kern county felt the sting recently, because of the decision of the county clerk not to perform any marriages at all beginning at 5:01 last night. “The move,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle, “has prompted prominent opponents of same-sex marriage to travel to Bakersfield in recent days and rally in support of [county clerk] Barnett. It has outraged others, including some local opponents of gay marriage who say her decision also adversely impacts straight couples.”
The bigoted move has caused other complications:
Heterosexual couples who had weddings scheduled in coming days and weeks were forced to change their appointments to this week. Crysta Greer’s grandmother, who lives in Madera, wasn’t able to make the trip on such short notice to see her granddaughter get married.
Greer, 20, had hoped to marry her fiance, 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Davis, on June 17, the fifth anniversary of the day they began dating.
Because Davis is being deployed on his first tour of duty in Iraq next month, the couple decided to move the wedding up and get married Thursday.
“Today doesn’t really have a special meaning for us,” Davis said before the ceremony.
Of course, it will from now on, just as today will have a special meaning for Dave and Mike, as well as the hundreds of other gay, straight and lesbian couples who could finally breath free in the bonds of matrimony. Those happy couples are mostly from California, but many are refugees like my Kansan friends, and there are already reports that the California tourism industry is seeing a boom in marriage tourism. Massachusetts, the only other state with marriage equality in name as well as in practice, doesn’t allow non-residents to marry. Thus, California is the first marriage refuge in the nation, and I can’t be prouder of my adopted state.
My family, like most of yours, came to this country seeking refuge from oppression. That sort of refuge is what America is all about, and I hope the other states and the federal government pay attention and get with the program.