Twenty-one years ago, against all odds, I met Clyde — the love of my life. We’ve been married in spirit ever since that first day … and on September 21st, in San Diego, California, we will be legally married, as well.
Clyde and I are getting married.
Writing those words … just seeing them on screen … stirs unexpected emotions.
From the very beginning, marriage — legal marriage, with all the rights and protections it brings — was something I wanted, but never expected to have. So we’ve protected each other in the only ways we could: with wills, with powers of attorney, with a pile of legal documents, with love.
Even with a legal marriage, our legal status will still be complicated. On Federal Income Tax returns, we can file jointly, as a married couple. On Georgia state tax returns, we’ll be single. And while the state of Georgia probably won’t recognize our marriage until, oh, 2057 … the Great State of California will — and the Federal Government will, too.
Even with Federal recognition, complexities abound. About half of the 1,100 Federal benefits extended to married couples are granted based on whether or not your state of residence recognizes your marriage. But the other half are granted based on your “state of celebration,” and since California will recognize us, we’ll get all of those — including some important inheritance and tax benefits.
I expected all of these legal complexities. What I didn’t anticipate at all was how the idea of getting married has impacted my heart.
* * * * *
Married. When I tell friends about our plans, I find myself fighting off tears again and again. Like so many other same-sex couples, our lives together started very quietly. From that first day, we knew we were right for each other. Six months later, we moved in together and started our home. Since that time, so many of you have loved us and embraced us and supported us exactly as friends and family would a married couple. (As one wonderful person told me last week: “We’ve always seen you two as married anyway.”)
Every day of life with Clyde really has been a joy. He balances me. He completes me. He loves me — not just the “dressed up for company and out in public me,” but the real me, the me I have to be, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He loves *that* person. You have no idea what a gift that is to me — or how grateful I am for that gift, every single day.
And now, in San Diego, California, there will be a ceremony that celebrates this. We’ll stand together in the home of two wonderful friends we met on a South American cruise, surrounded by a small group of friends and family, and, after all this time, we’ll look at each other, and say, “I do.” And music will play. And there will be a reception, with lunch and cake. And then we’ll all head out for an afternoon in the sun.
Clyde and I have been around the world together … but that afternoon, as we wander the San Diego zoo with our guests, that will be our first time go to anywhere legally married.
* * * * *
Years ago, without even knowing it, I built a wall around my heart — something to protect me from the pain of cruel comments, the casual ugliness some people expressed, and the (often unintentional) prejudice you experience when you’re gay in a very straight world.
Meeting Clyde brought down a big chunk of that wall. The love and acceptance from so many members of our family demolished it further. Friends who celebrate and support us each carried off a brick of that wall.
And now, unexpectedly, the simple right to marry the person I love has swept the last stone away.
We’re getting married!
My heart is so full. I’m very, very blessed to enjoy life’s brief adventure with Clyde at my side … and very, very happy to share this news with all of you.