Category Archives: LGBT issues

A play-by-play of our wedding day

Last week was the worst week of my life and the best week of my life.  On Wednesday evening, my Dad passed away (a blog post for another day).  On Thursday, I left for Iowa to get married.  Jeanne and I had been planning our wedding since the end of September, and since the date for Dad’s funeral is up to Arlington National Cemetery and may be several months off, there was no reason to change our plans. We had planned for it to be a very small affair anyway – just us and 2 attendants – so we decided to go ahead and leave.  Between the original plan and the date of the wedding, we did add one guest – a cousin who lives close enough to drive to the location we had chosen.

Jeanne & I, along with our dear friend Lorena, drove about 1/3 of the way the first day.  We got back in the car Friday morning, arrived in Davenport at 2:15 pm, and met up with my sister-in-law who drove in from Wisconsin.  We got there in plenty of time to pick up our license at the court house, check into the Bed & Breakfast we had found, and get to the church for a 4 pm rehearsal.  All went smoothly that day, and we went to bed early to be well rested for the big day.

Saturday – our wedding day – was almost perfect.  The day began with sleeping in (which we all needed), followed by a yummy breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls and a trip to the mall to get our nails done.  My color matched my flowers and Jeanne’s color matched her blouse.  It had been sprinkling as we walked into the mall, but when we left, the sun was shining – yay!  After a quick bite at Panera to make sure we all made it through the afternoon, we returned to the Beiderbecke Inn to get ready.  Jeanne was ready first and went downstairs to wait.  My cousin Michelle arrived and kept her company while our 2 attendants helped me get into my dress.  Michelle then came up to see me and give me two tokens to have with me during the ceremony – a hankie that was her mother’s and a pin that was one of Dad’s other sister’s.  The pin belonged to my godmother, and was a silver shamrock with a pearl at the center.  Both gifts were very meaningful and gave me a sense of having part of Dad with me on this special day.

When I was finally ready, I came down to meet Jeanne.  As I rounded the corner in the staircase, I could see her waiting at the bottom – her mouth hanging open as she saw my dress for the first time.  I was so happy she liked it!  We took tons of photos, inside and out, and then headed for the church, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities, a UU congregation very similar to our home church of Neshoba.

When we got there, several cars were already in the parking lot.  Our minister in Memphis had emailed the minister in Iowa to suggest that he invite members of his congregation to attend, since we couldn’t have our church family with us.  When we went inside there were already 2 families and a couple of other people.  More arrived before the start of the ceremony – we were amazed at how many people came to see 2 strangers get married.  One couple, Dana and Betty, told us that they had been married over 2 years ago, and when they had their ceremony, they had also been together 19 years.

The ceremony itself was lovely.  The minister said a few words of welcome, and talked about love.  One phrase that stuck with me was he told us to “knock gently on each other’s hearts, and open them to each other in gladness”.  Our friend Lorena, who we gave the title of “Best Woman”, read the chalice lighting words. Lori, my sister-in-law, who was the “Matron of Honor”, read a passage from Robert Fulgum.  Following that was a prayer that Lorena and Lori read together.

Then came the vows – we had each written our own and not shared them at that point.  I was already a bit teary because Lori & Lorena had each teared up a bit during the readings.  I went first because I didn’t want to cry at Jeanne’s and then not be able to get through my own.  Turns out I cried during mine anyway.  But I got through it.  Jeanne’s were touching as well, so I was glad I had a hankie in my pocket!

We exchanged rings and then all of a sudden we were married!  Our recessional was “Can I have this dance” by Anne Murray, so we danced for a bit in front of everyone, and then walked down the aisle.  As everyone left, we stood by the door thanking them for helping us celebrate.  Several of them gave us cards, and one woman actually gave us a gift.  It was a small figurine of 2 people (of indiscriminate gender) embracing – we found out later, it was crafted by a famous local artisan, Isabel Bloom.

We took more photos, went to the minister’s office to sign the paper work, and then went outside to take even more pictures.  Our Matron of Honor, Lori, is a wedding photographer by profession, so she knew just what poses to capture and how to take advantage of the light.  Most of the photos were taken on her camera, so we will get those after she has a chance to upload and edit them.

A few photos were taken on iphones. This one turned out well!

It was quite breezy on Saturday, so that presented a challenge, but Lori is experienced in dealing with challenging situations, so I have no doubt the pictures will be amazing.  As we got into the car to leave the church, the rain started up again – just a sprinkle, but we were thrilled that it waited until we were finished with pictures.

We returned to the Beiderbecke to put our feet up and visit for a while.  Michelle had brought Prosecco and sparkling pear juice, so she, Lori & Lorena toasted us and our marriage.  We opened gifts from Michelle and Lorena, opened all the cards from the members of the church, and then got ready to go to dinner.  Fortunately, the rain had stopped again!

We had a 6 pm reservation at Biaggi’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant that has locations around the country, but none in Tennessee, so we hadn’t heard of it before.  I just found it the way I did most of the parts of this weekend – searching on the internet for “Fine Dining in Davenport”.  The atmosphere was warm – literally and figuratively. We were seated near a fireplace in a back room – a round table set for 5.  Lorena sat next to Jeanne, Michelle was next to me, and Lori was across the table from us – perfect vantage point for the photographer!

The waiter, a nice young man named Angel, informed us that the manager wanted to provide a bottle of wine for our celebration, so we went with Prosecco again.  For appetizers, we ordered calamari fritti and lobster artichoke dip, shared around the table. Then it was on to soup and salad – I had a Caesar and Lori & Lorena shared a beet salad and a bowl of lobster corn chowder.  The soup was passed around also so we could all taste it.   Everyone agreed that the food was all delicious.  Then came the main course.  Jeanne ordered a seafood pasta bowl that included shrimp, scallops, muscles, and clams in a tomato sauce.  I had shrimp & crab cannelloni in a lobster cream sauce.  Michelle had chicken piccata, and Lori & Lorena each ordered a ½ order of a pasta dish – the cannelloni and a black fettucini with lobster and wild mushrooms – and then shared them.   We should have all gone with 1/2 orders – Michelle, Jeanne and I all had leftovers, while Lori & Lorena cleaned their plates!

Finally, it was time for dessert.  Lori had brought a stunning cheesecake made at a Wisconsin bakery, Simma’s.  Besides being beautiful, with swirls and plum-colored dots that matched my dress, it was the most delicious wedding cake any of us had ever tasted!  It was two-tiered, and we used the figurine given to us by the member of the UUCQC as a cake topper – it was the perfect size for the cake.

We had to say goodbye to Michelle after dinner, but it had been a wonderful day and we were so grateful she was able to be there to help us celebrate.  Lori, who was doing triple duty as witness, photographer, and driver, got us all back to the B&B for a relatively early night.  The drive home the next day was going to be long, so we retired to our respective rooms by 9 pm.

Even if our marriage is never recognized by the state we live in or by the federal government, we are so happy we made this trip.  We have hopes that it be legal everywhere one day, but in the meantime, we know in our hearts that we are legally married and that we will continue to love each other … at least one more day than we have so far.

Proud to be a part of history

Last Tuesday, October 11, was National Coming Out Day (NCOD) – a day for members of the LGBT community to take a brave step out of the closet and share their authentic selves with the world around them.

click for source

This past Saturday was Pride Day for the Memphis & Mid-South area.  It used to be held in June, but was moved to October last year to coincide with – or at least be close to – NCOD.  I think the cooler weather also may have played a role in the date change!

For years, the festival and parade was held in a part of town known for its liberal-minded residents and its large gay and lesbian population.  This year, we came out of the “mid-town” closet.  For the first time ever , the festival was moved to a park in downtown and the parade marched up one of the most famous streets in Memphis, if not in the whole country – Beale Street.

Our church's parade contingent

The whole event felt historic – we had more vendors and organizations with booths in the park, more groups and people marching in the parade, and more spectators than ever before.

There were two 100′ rainbow flags, carried by members of faith communities and by members of youth- centered groups such as GSAs from schools and a support group known as MAGY – Memphis Area Gay Youth.

My small church, with just over 100 adult members, turned out 40 adults and 11 children to help set up our booth, hand out information, walk in the parade, and/or break down our display.

Me and our minister at our festival booth

The response from the public lining the sidelines of the parade was tremendous!  Applause, cheers, flag waving, and affirming signs greeted us as we turned the corner from 2nd street onto the cobblestones of Beale.

There is really no way to describe the feelings I experienced that day.  The beautiful weather, the friendly faces, and the party atmosphere made it one of the most memorable days of my life.  It gave me hope that, step by step, moment by moment, one person at a time, we are changing the world.  The time is now.  We are out of the closet.  We are who we are, and we aren’t ashamed to let the world know.  Be proud of who you are… that is what Pride Day is all about!

In the beginning…

I read a fellow blogger’s story about how she and her partner met and decided I would share the details about how I met Jeanne.

In my coming out story (part I and part II), posted last summer, I mentioned that I joined a women’s bowling league to meet other lesbians. It was a gay women’s league – I wasn’t just making assumptions about the type of women I might meet. I didn’t know anyone on the league, but the informational flyer I had gotten said I could show up and they would put me on a team.

The last Sunday in August, 1993, I drove to the bowling alley and found the registration table. I let them know I didn’t know anyone else there, but wanted to bowl. I was placed on a team with another new bowler and a returning bowler (Jeanne) whose team had fallen by the wayside. The league was small – maybe 8 or 10 teams – with 3 bowlers on each team. It was a perfect starting point for me. I am fairly shy in new situations – it is hard for me to initiate conversations with people I don’t know – but I quickly started looking forward to Sunday nights! We could always discuss the weather, music, and bowling.

My teammates and I didn’t communicate outside of the bowling alley, though. We would just show up, bowl, and then go our separate ways. We didn’t even have each other’s phone numbers until half way through the season. In early December, we realized that it would be helpful to let each other know if we weren’t going to be there for some reason, so we exchanged numbers.

At this point, I was still not “out” to most of my friends (or family). Two or three from college and the new ones I had made in the support group I attended on Tuesdays, plus my sister-in-law/best friend were it. I did tell some co-workers that I had joined a bowling league, but left it at that. The Friday after exchanging phone numbers with my teammates, a friend of mine (Annie) from the Tuesday night group went out dancing with me. We had a blast and that Sunday, she came with me to the bowling alley. She didn’t want to bowl, but thought it would be fun to come cheer for me and meet other women. We were talking to Jeanne and some of the other women about having been to a gay country bar and how much fun it had been. Jeanne said she had been there, but not in a long time, and that a group of us should plan to go that coming Friday.

Apparently, at some point that night, Jeanne asked Annie if I was dating anyone. Annie told her no, and Jeanne asked if she thought I was interested in dating at all. I’m not sure how Annie answered her, but the next day when she was telling me this, she encouraged me to call Jeanne up and invite her to dinner before the group of us went dancing on Friday. So I did. Except I had never asked a woman out before – in fact I had never asked anyone out, and only had dated one guy in college. So when I called Jeanne, I was pretty nervous. I said something along the lines of “Would you like to get some dinner before we go dancing?” and when she didn’t respond immediately, I jumped in with “we could go dutch”.
What I was thinking would be our first date, Jeanne says was not because we did in fact go “dutch” – I paid for my dinner and she paid for hers. But I picked her up and drove her home afterwards. We danced and laughed and had a good time. Even though there were other friends at the bar with us, I felt like we were there “together”, so I still think of it as a “date”.

The next day, we spent about 2 hours on the phone, talking about how much fun we had had and making plans to co-host a New Year’s Eve party. I was leaving town for a week, but would be back in time for the festivities. We talked on the phone every day before I left town on the 22nd.  I called her on the 25th to wish her Merry Christmas, and when I flew home on the 29th, I made my dad, who had met me at the airport in the middle of a snow storm, drive me the extra half hour to my house instead of crashing at his place so I could call her.

The evening of the 31st, I went over to her place early to help get ready for the party.  We cooked and decorated and got games out to play.  About 10-12 people came over and we had a good time.  At 11:55, I casually made my way across the room so I could be standing next to her when the ball dropped.  The count down began, and my heart started beating just a little faster.  Our first kiss was, 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1, right at the stroke of midnight.  Even though our first “official date”, when we went to the movies and she paid, wasn’t for another couple of weeks, we count that moment as our beginning.  17 years later, here we are!

Gratitude – Day 25

Today, Thursday, December 23rd, I am thankful that Jeanne and I are able to sign all of the Christmas cards to our friends and families together.  Our parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles are all aware and supportive of our relationship.  I realize that there are members of the LGBT community who are not able to be open with their families (immediate and extended).  We are very fortunate to be able to share our Christmas letter (yes, we write one almost every year) with everyone on our list.

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day, the 23rd anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.  It is a day for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community and their allies to speak up and speak out about the need for equality.   Did you know that only 5 states (IA, NH, MA, CT, and VT) plus the District of Columbia recognize that marriage is about love, not gender?  Did you know that 90% of GLBT teens experience harassment, bullying, and/or physical violence based on their (often just perceived) sexuality?  Did you know that gay teens are 30% more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens?  Did you know that you can be fired in 29 states for being gay, lesbian or bisexual?  Did you know that the number increases to 38 states if you are transgendered?  Did you know that over 14,000 service members have been discharged under the failed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy?

Did you know that you can do something about all of these statistics?  Did you know that you can make a difference?  It just takes one step.  Come out.  Come out as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered.  Come out as an ally.  Just come out and stand up for what is right.  Let the world know that the GLBT community is made up of people who deserve better.  I know I do.

Looking for Myself: Part II

In the summer of ’93, I took a road trip from Virginia to Prince Edward Island, Canada, trying to reconnect to my past.  I spent about 2 weeks visiting friends and family, and sightseeing on PEI – a beautiful location that I hadn’t seen since I was 3 months old.  After touring the island and speaking to the nun who had facilitated my adoption almost 29 years before, I felt somewhat more connected to the place of my birth.  Although I hadn’t taken any steps towards finding my birth family, I thought I could return home feeling more settled about who I was.  But there was still a restlessness within my heart.  There was still a part of me missing.

My trip back to Virginia was somewhat more direct than my trip North.  I only made 3 stops – a hotel in Bangor, friends in Boston and an aunt in New York.  The stop in Boston is what ultimately made the whole trip worthwhile.  I had two friends from college who lived there – one of whom was out as a lesbian when we were in school together.  When I called to let her know when I would be arriving, I found out the other one had come out too and they were, in fact, dating!

I spent the weekend getting reacquainted with them both.  They were the first female couple that I knew (well, the first that was open about it) and I was able to talk to them about my confusion.   They took me out to the end of Cape Cod – a beach village called Provincetown, known to be a gay-friendly area.  While walking around, we saw couples – same sex couples – holding hands, pushing strollers, generally living their lives, completely comfortable with who they were.  It was eye-opening and liberating.  I felt like I had come home.  I realized that I could accept myself and that it was possible to find others who would accept me too.

While the process of acknowledging my feelings had been a long one, once I was willing to admit to myself that I was gay, I couldn’t wait to figure out what came next.  I was still scared – I had been turned down the one time I had expressed an attraction to a woman, so how would I know who I could trust, who else might be gay?  The friends I was visiting explained a concept to me known as “gaydar” – a sense I would develop over time.  In the meantime, they suggested I look in the local gay paper for support groups for those coming out.  They also said that there were likely to be social groups centered on common interests – I should just find something that I enjoyed doing and join a group for that activity.

When I got home to Virginia, I was a changed woman.  But I still felt lonely.  I wasn’t sure who I could trust with my new-found knowledge.  So I took the advice I had been given and sought out a support group.  I tried a few on for size before settling on one about 20 minutes from where I lived.  I got to know a group of women who were going through a similar experience, trying to come to terms with their identity and facing the coming out process with friends and family.  I was at a meeting one week when a woman stopped by with flyers for a lesbian bowling league that would be starting up the next month.  I remembered the suggestion that I find an activity I enjoyed in order to meet more people, so I decided to show up.  It was at that bowling league that I met the woman who I now consider my wife!

While I was feeling more and more comfortable with myself over the course of that Fall, I was still feeling unconnected to others.  I tried to keep myself separate from friends and family who didn’t know my secret.  I still wasn’t sure how people would react and I was scared of being rejected.  So I avoided my parents, my close friends, anyone outside of my support group and the bowling league.  In hindsight, I realize I was scared of saying something that would “out” myself before I was ready.

Over the years, I have grown to realize that I wasn’t doing myself any favors, trying to live 2 lives.  I slowly started coming out to family and friends.  The first person I told, outside of my new circle of friends, was my brother’s wife.  We have always been very close, but I was still scared.  Her reaction – “so?  Is that supposed to change the way I feel about you?” – gave me courage.  A few months later, I told my parents.  Although they had a hard time with it at first, they never rejected me or made me feel unloved.  16 years later, they are completely supportive, accepting my partner as part of the family.

This summer, I took another trip.  This time, I went to visit my brother’s family and while there got to reconnect with one of the friends from Boston who is now living in a different city.  I think that reunion is what got me thinking about that trip from 17 years ago.  It was truly a life-changing event.  I discovered the freedom to be myself and my life has never been the same.   I left on that journey seeking roots, and what I found were wings.

Looking For Myself: Part I

Seventeen years ago today, in the summer of ’93, I went looking for myself.   I had spent the first two decades or so of my life trying to be the perfect daughter, the smart one, the girl looking for a boyfriend/husband because that is what was expected.  There were moments along the way when I glimpsed the true me, but what I saw was so unfamiliar, so scary, that I retreated into what was safe and comfortable.  But there came a time when the “safe” was no longer comfortable.

I had dated a guy for about 2 years while in college, but after he broke up with me in our Junior year, I avoided romantic relationships for a long time.  In the summer of ’86, after college graduation, I found myself attracted to a fellow counselor at the camp where I had spent 11 summers.  I didn’t say anything to her or to anyone – I figured it was just a phase, a delayed reaction to having my heart broken by a guy.  At the end of the summer, we went our separate ways and I later heard she had gotten married.

A few years later, I met another woman and had a similar reaction.  We got to be friends when we shared a house one summer, and reconnected the following spring when she was back in the area staying with family.  We became very close – she was going through a difficult time and I did my best to be there when she needed a friend.  Although there wasn’t a physical part to our relationship, there were times when I thought perhaps that would happen.  I was more in tune with my feelings, but again, didn’t say anything.

She moved to Texas, but we stayed in touch.  A couple years went by.  I went to visit her in Houston and realized I was still very attracted to her.  I spent the better part of the few days I was there trying to decide how to express that to her.  I think she sensed it because it seemed that she did everything she could to keep us from being alone together.  When I finally did get up the nerve, the day I was leaving, she let me know in no uncertain terms that she didn’t return the feelings.  We kept in touch by mail for a while, but we have never again seen each other.

At this point, though, I was still missing my ex-boyfriend, so I was sure that I wasn’t gay – maybe bisexual, but definitely not a lesbian.  To convince myself of this, I signed up with a dating service.  This was in the days before eHarmony, so I had to go into a small room, fill out an extensive questionnaire and make a video introducing myself.   Then I got to page through binders of information and view videos of men I thought I might want to meet.  All in all, I spent over $1000 and went on a total of 3 dates.

The last of those dates ended with more physical contact than I had intended and I realized that I was wasting my money – I just wasn’t attracted to men physically.  My next step was to put a personal ad in a local paper under the category of Women Seeking Women.  My ad began “Bi-curious woman seeking…” because I was still convinced that I was just curious – I wanted to figure out where my feelings were coming from.  I went on one date with a woman, but the idea that it might lead somewhere was still too scary for me, so I pulled back into myself, giving all of my energy to my job and convincing myself that it was enough and that it was okay to be alone.

Over the course of these years in my mid-twenties, I felt more and more unsure of who I was. It felt like I was sleepwalking through my life without knowing what was going on around me.  I felt unconnected to everyone, especially myself, but couldn’t seem to put my feelings into words.  I was adopted as an infant and thought perhaps my feelings of restlessness were a result of needing a connection to my past.  So I planned a trip back to Prince Edward Island, where I had been adopted almost 29 years before.

I went on this journey to find something — a connection, a sense of belonging, a sense of myself.  I went to find me.  I wasn’t sure if that search would include looking for birth parents, but I knew I wanted to stand on the island and see if I could sense where I had come from, see if that gave me the feeling of completion that I was seeking.

The trip began in Virginia and included stops in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Maine, attending a wedding and visiting friends and family along the way.   Nine days after starting off on this journey, I arrived on PEI.  I enjoyed my time there, seeing the sights, driving around the western half of the island, and visiting with the nun who had facilitated my adoption.  She let me know that if I was interested in pursuing a search, the agency would work with me.  I wasn’t ready to take on that emotional challenge, but it was good to know that there were options available to me.  When I left the island, I felt a little more sure of myself.  For one thing, I had accomplished this adventure all by myself.  For another, I was bringing home a hand-made quilt that I could imagine might have been made by a relative.  And I had seen the beauty of the land of my birth.  I was ready to head home.

Census dilemma

The Census form arrived in the mail last week.  The first 10 questions – the ones about me – were easy.  When I got to Person 2, I got stuck on one question.   Person 2 was my partner of 16 years, the woman I call my wife, Jeanne.    Therein lay the problem.  Sometimes I refer to her as my partner; sometimes I call her my wife.  Even though we are not married in the traditional sense – we have not had a ceremony, there is no license, and in the eyes of the government, we cannot be married – we consider ourselves just as married, just as committed, as my brother and his wife or Jeanne’s sister and her husband.

The question on the second part of the census that gave me pause asked us to define Person 2’s relationship to Person 1.  There were 14 options:

Husband or wife
Biological son or daughter
Adopted son or daughter
Stepson or stepdaughter
Brother or sister
Father or mother
Grandchild
Parent-in-law
Son-in-law or daughter-in-law
Other relative
Roomer or boarder
Housemate or roommate
Unmarried Partner
Other nonrelative

Some were obvious non-choices.  But I struggled with what I should answer about our relationship.  Although I consider Jeanne my wife, I didn’t know if that would be the right choice, since we aren’t legally married.  But the “unmarried partner” choice seems to indicate that we are choosing to be unmarried – like straight couples who choose to co-habitate.

I remember an old acronym – coined by the census back in the 1970s – POSSLQ.  People of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters.    It was dropped later because it didn’t accurately reflect the make-up of households.  These days, people of the opposite sex often share living quarters, sometimes without being in a romantic relationship with each other.  And people of the same sex share living quarters, including those who are in a relationship.

I applaud the writers of the Census questions for including options that seem to cover all possible descriptions of why people live together.  But it still puts some of us in a dilemma.  I wish there was a category for “committed partner who you would marry if that option was available to you”.

Of course, that brings up another debate.  I just don’t understand why some people are so threatened by the idea of allowing me to marry the woman I love.  Allowing gays and lesbians to marry is not going to change anything.  We are a relatively small percentage of the population (the largest estimate I have ever seen is 10%) and of those, not all are in a committed relationship and wanting to get married.  In any event, we are not looking to replace straight marriage.  We aren’t suggesting that everyone should marry someone of the same gender.  We just want to be able to marry the person we fall in love with.  Something that 90+% of the population is allowed to do.

45 years ago, though, that wasn’t entirely true.  It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that interracial marriage was legal.  Before that, if a black man fell in love with a white woman (or the other way around), they were not allowed to marry in many locations.  I certainly hope it doesn’t take another 45 years for this country to come to the same conclusion about gay marriage.  That it doesn’t matter who you marry — if you are in love and want to commit your life to another consenting adult, you should be allowed to do so.  The good news is that a small number of states have, in fact, come to that conclusion.  Unfortunately, the state where I reside is not one of them.

I know many gay couples that have been together as long, or longer, than straight couples.  As I mentioned, Jeanne and I have been together 16 years.  We have moved 1/2 way across the country together.  We have purchased 2 homes together.  In our eyes, the eyes of our friends, and even the eyes of our families, we are a couple.  Even without a ceremony (civil or religious), if a straight couple had been together as long as we have, in many locations it would be considered a common law marriage and would be granted certain rights.  We don’t even have that.

I understand that some people feel that this is a religious issue.  The problem I have with that argument is that there are many different religions, and not all of them are against gay marriage.  There are also many people who get married outside of a Christian church – those who get married in a Synagogue, at a courthouse or by a justice of the peace – and yet they are considered just as married as the ones who walk down the aisle of a church.   If the term “married” implies a Christian concept, then it should not apply to anyone who isn’t wed in a Christian church.

I supposed I am just confused.  I would really like someone to explain to me how my loving my partner and making a legal commitment to her, guaranteeing us the rights and privileges of straight partners such as the right to medical decisions, the right to survivor benefits, the right to inherit property, etc is a threat to the INSTITUTION of marriage.  How is my getting married going to affect your marriage?

Maybe in the next ten years, society will change.  Marriage will come to mean a commitment between loving partners whose purpose is to publicly declare their decision to spend the rest of their lives together.  I hope that when the 2020 census arrives in my mailbox, I won’t have to struggle with which choice to mark.  It will be easier than it was this year to mark “wife”.