Monday, November 17, 2008

My Wife, My Mistress

Leave it to California to spice up our romantic life.

On September 3, 2008, Nancy and I were married in the rotunda of the City Hall of San Francisco. The occasion was thrilling, solemn, and very emotional. After 14 years together, our commitment was suddenly being celebrated by everyone from the county clerk who issued our marriage license and the deputy commissioner who pronounced us "spouses for life," to family and friends who gave cards, gifts, tributes, and hugs. We floated on a wave of happiness for two-months and one day.

Then, on November 4, California voters passed Proposition 8. It restricts marriage to a man and a woman. Same-sex marriages are prohibited. Thankfully, according to CA Attorney General Jerry Brown, the 18,000 couples who wed between June and election day will continue to have a valid marriage. Even this ruling, though, is under siege by right-wing forces.

What this means personally is that, given the patchwork of marriage rights and non-rights across the nation, Nancy is my wife in California and in the states that recognize same-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. Since I have a wife in those states, I guess that makes Nancy my mistress in the other 45 states, including our home state of Minnesota! You'd think that would be enough to make fundamentalist blood really boil.

In addition to having fun being married AND having an affair, we feel patient and hopeful about what we'd prefer: being legally married wherever we are. Every year the forces of tolerance eclipse the forces of bigotry inch by inch. I look at Obama's victory as a sparkling testament to what is possible. It will take a while longer, but Nancy and I believe that eventually the whole of the United States will support the right of everyone to marry regardless of their mate's gender.

Until then, I will have a wife in California and a mistress in Minnesota. Lucky me!