I took a very quick trip to Vancouver, Washington over the weekend to attend my friend Kelly's wedding. Kelly and I grew up on the same street, and I have known her her whole life (I'm older). She's the closest thing I've had to a sister, so naturally I wanted to be there when she got married. That's not news, but the historic thing is, Kelly married a woman.
Sunday was the first day that same-sex marriages were legal in the state of Washington. Kelly and Sam were not the first gay couple to get married that day, but they were the first lesbian couple to get a license in their county. It was news. Vancouver is just on the other side of the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, so the local media there covered it. There was even a reporter from the Wall Street Journal (as I'm writing this, I haven't seen Monday's edition, so I can't tell you what they said).
Kelly and Sam have waited, and planned, and waited, and planned some more for this occasion. After much debate and long arguments, the state legislature legalized same-sex marriage in June, but decided to put a referendum to the people in November. Kelly, Sam and many others were carrying signs, going to rallies, doing whatever they could to bring out the vote. It took two days after the General Election for the measure to be declared a winner. Then, after a wait for the election to be certified, same-sex couples could get a license on December 6. Interestingly, Washington law requires a three-day waiting period before couples (gay or straight) can get married, so December 9 was the first day gay weddings were legal.
Since trails were being blazed, and traditions were either being broken or amended, it was appropriate that the wedding itself was very non-traditional. It was held in a coffee house, and there were about 50 invited guests. Most wore fairly casual attire. The ceremony began with Kelly being escorted from a side entrance by her brother Kevin, then Sam entered, walking with her mom Jan. The woman who presided over the ceremony was straight, she welcomed everyone, and told some anecdotes about the couple. Then another woman read (more like performed) a powerful poem she had written about trying to be perfect, only to realize is was more important to just be loved. The couple exchanged vows and rings, and then the two were pronounced “legally married.” The couple then signed a document, which was also signed by witnesses, including Kelly's other brother Tom, and that was it. A short, simple, and to-the-point ceremony.
For the next hour and a half or so, the invited guests mingled. There was food and music playing in the background. But later, the doors to the coffee house opened to the public, and the entire city of Vancouver was invited to the reception. Kelly and Sam are both artists and are well known in the downtown community, and many people were there. There were younger people, older people, gay and straight. There was an interracial heterosexual couple who live in a more conservative part of Washington, and Kelly was telling me how they even get harassed sometimes. There was no alcohol at the reception (it was at a coffee house), but that didn't matter. Other than the sexual orientation of the couple, and maybe the brevity of the ceremony, it wasn't much different than a “normal” wedding.
It was great to be part of such an occasion. Not because it was history, or that I can say I went to a gay wedding, but because it's something very special to the people involved. Kelly introduced me to some of her friends as her “brother from another mother”—a term that I embrace, and couldn't be more happy about. I know not everyone has embraced the idea of gay marriage, and it's even something that Kelly's mother is still trying to come to grips with, but I've never seen Kelly happier. Kelly and Sam are good people, they love each other, and are happy together. Isn't that what marriage is all about? It's too bad they had to wait for a change in state law to make it happen, but love has conquered, at least for them. Congratulations Kelly and Sam! I love you both.
Above photo (left to right): Newlyweds Sam MacKenzie and Kelly Keigwin
More Love and Admiration: Congratulations to my uncle, Dr. Martin Small, for being named Burbank, California's Citizen of the Year. Uncle Marty is a retired veterinarian, and has donated hours and hours of time at the local animal shelter. Even without all of that, I can't think of a better citizen to be so honored. He was presented with the award Thursday night, and it was a surprise, so I'm not sure how he was convinced to go to the meeting. Congrats again Uncle Marty, a great honor for a great person.
My uncle receiving his award (photo by daughter Korey Dudley)