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Friday, October 14, 2011

On Commitment

Sara is my wife. In my life. In our home. To our daughter. In our bedroom. In conversation. In all things personal, Sara is my wife. She is my partner in crime. She is my confidant. She is my lover, my friend, my equal. Sara is everything that a committed, devoted spouse should be.

No, Sara is not my wife. In the eyes of the law, in all things legal, Sara is my domestic partner. I hate those words. They leave out everything that she is to me and our family. In conversation with others, what does domestic partner say? It says that we are a couple of homos shacking up together. It says that we are acknowledged as living under the same roof as, ummm, I dunno, a couple. It says that we are not married. It says that we can leave this state and get married, but we better not come back because it won't be recognized anyway. It says that we are committed, but not serious. It says that we don't have the same rights as you. It says that it is okay for people to ask us what will happen to our children if we ever break up. Break up? When's the last time you ever asked a married couple what would happen to their children or their things if they were to break up? You don't. They are assumed to be forever unless they get divorced and, you still don't ask a couple what happens if they get divorced.  Sara is my domestic partner.

I was recently very honored to participate in the weddings of two couples that I love dearly. I was the reader. Reading is something I love to do, but, for these weddings, I choked through tears for each one. For these were the epitome of weddings. These weddings were quaint and quiet and beautiful. Each unique, they were both very much the bride and very much the groom. I never thought I could be so overwhelmed with happiness for four people yet a little envious too. I want that. I am ashamed that I even felt such envy, but I did...jealous and elated and tickled pink for each couple. I so long for a quaint, quiet, beautiful wedding surrounded by people who love and support Sara and I and our commitment to each other. I want a wedding that is very much the bride and very much the bride. And, more than the wedding, I yearn to be recognized as more than an individual who is in a domestic partnership with another woman. Another unmarried woman who, I might add, is pregnant with our second child. Whoops. Clearly the pull out method doesn't work. Inappropriate, Sam. Yes, eh hem. I want to be wife and wife, not domestic partner and domestic partner. That doesn't roll off the tongue well, so you can call us d.p. for short.

In the latter of the two weddings I learned that commitment comes in many forms. You've committed to being a couple. You've committed to becoming a fiancé. You've committed to being someone's spouse. Maybe later in life or maybe already, you've committed yourself to being a parent, an employee, a friend. Da dah da dah da dah. You get the idea. There are so many levels of commitment, but the kind I observed at this wedding was a friendship, a deep bond, between two cousins. These children are two (almost three) and four respectably. One would think, for as little as they see each other, there would be a period of engagement, of getting to know one another each time they meet. How do children so young pick up exactly where they left off the last time they saw each other? How is it that they have only had a couple dozen or so encounters in their short lives and still manage to maintain such strong friendship? Their developing minds aren't supposed to retain memory like that. They are committed to each other. That's how.

These two children entertain each other. They talk. They play. They laugh, cry, share experiences. They are connected. Neither of them has siblings, though one will have one soon. When they are apart, they ask about each other. When they are together, they absorb nothing but each other.

And together they were. Recently, together, they stood up in an October wedding. One of the intimate and chocolate box weddings I referred to earlier. They guided each other carefully down the isle preparing the way for the bride. Hand in hand, they tenderly placed petals on the floor. When their path was complete, they took their seats. Side by side they sat as her Aunt and her Uncle, his Step-Mom and his Daddy, got married. Side by side they sat. They would not sit apart.

The ceremony adjourned and the two little models made their way downstairs to the reception area. They had lunch together. The imagined together. They danced together. And oh did they dance and run and be giddy, foolish little kids. Together they were exhausted. Everyone, myself included, looked on entertained by their theatrics. No one judged. All lavished in their togetherness, their enjoyment of each other. They were as memorable as the bride and groom themselves.

I think all commitments should be as easy as the one owned by those glowing personalities with minimal interference and an abundance of support. But, fact is, we are not children anymore. When we are adults there are complexities with commitment. Some more so than others. There are laws and restrictions, rules and guidelines, and sometimes social expectations that surround our commitments. So for as much as I would like a wedding, one that means something in the eyes of the law and still has my family and friends touting on the happiness and support, we will wait. And when the day comes that the law in Wisconsin catches up with society, Sara and I will meet at the end of the isle to finish the last snip-it of our commitment.

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