Six years ago I managed to remove the best guy in the world from the pool of available bachelors. I hope he remains this way for as long as I'm alive. Yet I can't help but feel sad that many of our dearest friends cannot do the same with the loves of their lives. callicrates and I are very lucky in that we were born with two sets of bits in different places. erish and her beloved are not so lucky in that they were both born with the same sets of bits.
Andy's and my wedding was witnessed by family and friends, who promised to help us through the worst as well as to rejoice with us in the best. Then again, so was Rikistene and Teredon's. More significantly, Andy's and my wedding was mostly secular with hints of religion and was not recorded in the ledger of any religious denomination. Rikestene and Teredon's was witnessed not only by friends, but by members of their church. It wasn't recorded in their church due to the (out of touch) leadership's refusal to recognize same-sex vows, but someday when that is changed they will have a religious marriage, whereas Andy and I will, unless/until we renew our vows in a church, always be a domestic partnership.
If Andy had been American and had I been British, I might now be in the process of living with him due to a marriage visa or I might even have some sort of citizenship (help on that one, goldenlily?). Rikistene doesn't have that luxury, and is simply lucky that her PhD has opened doors to her working in the States.
If something happens to me, Andy will be able to decide the best course of action, though I understand that in cases such as Terri Schiavo, sometimes this can be overruled, particularly if politicians become involved. If something happens to Rikistene, however, even if she and Teredon have given one another legal rights, it would be ludicrously simple for Rikistene's family to overrule Teredon. I know one person firsthand (not FOAF) whose family, which was extremely hostile to her chosen lifemate, denied that lifemate access to visit while she was comatose. When her lover finally manged to get into the hospital the friend came out of her coma almost immediately. Her family was annoyed. So much for any semblance of love by those whom the courts would default to.
I really don't care what it's called; be it civil union, social contract, or marriage. What I do want is for Rikistene, Teredon, and countless others to be able to have the same rights and legal protections as Andy and I do. Basically, if the feds and states tomorrow did the equivalent of s/marriage/civil union/g to all of the laws and made "marriage" a term usable by those whose union were recognized exclusively in religious ceremonies, I'd be happy even if no longer technically married.
Currently the governor of the United States is trying to rally people by ignoring the real issues which effect marriage (false expectations, poverty, lack of concept of the so-called sanctity of marriage) and instead focusing on a threat which is not only not a threat but which is, in fact, a glowing example of what marriage could/should be. He wants to pass a Constitutional amendment which would deny a whole group of people rights solely because of the bits with which they were born -- sort of the opposite of another amendment which gave rights to people despite the skin color with which they were born, and a later amendment which extended rights to a group of people despite the bits with which they were born.
One of the best ways to honor Andy's and my marriage would be to make sure that our friends can also have those celebrations. Please vote against those trying to get the amendments passed, and please vote against state laws which would restrict a part of the population so arbitrarily. Please vote for those who want to strengthen hate crime laws and for those who understand that religious marriage should be completely divorced from civil marriage. Please vote for initiatives which would allow Rikistene and Teredon to be considered as legally "valid" as Andy and I are. Finally, please consider what the real dangers to marriage are and tell your politicians to do so as well, rather than focusing on something which has nothing to do with strengths or weaknesses of other relationships.
For the record, Rikistene and Teredon's wedding was five years and six months to date after ours. Despite their being committed to one another for the past six months, Andy's and my marriage has not been weakened. I know of no one who has divorced solely because Rikistene and Teredon are living together. In fact, the only broken marriage I've heard of recently failed not because same-sex couples were allowed to marry briefly in several cities, but instead because the bride and/or groom was/were drunk when they got married and had second thoughts later.
Yet the Las Vegas marriage fiasco didn't weaken our marriage either -- simply put, Andy's and my marriage will work so long as we put effort into it. Even if gay folks marry; even if straight folks divorce at a 50% or greater rate; the only thing which can ruin Andy's and my marriage is us and our actions. Our marriage may be strengthened by the love of couples around us and the hope of being as happy, but the happiness of echoweaver and her husband is no different than that of erish and her soulmate.