Monday, June 16, 2008

Waiting Period

Handguns, abortions, flood insurance, initial public offerings, divorces ... and in Massachusetts, marriages. Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin have been waiting since 1953, which makes the three day waiting period that the Boyfriend and I are facing pale in comparison. But we counted correctly, so we're able to get married on Thursday, which is my 30th birthday. I guess I didn't want to be a spinster.

We went to our suburban Massachusetts city hall this morning, and went to the city clerk's office. I was prepared for a stand-off, or for someone to refuse to help us. (Truth be told, I even had a backup plan. I was ready to drive to Cambridge if there were any problems.) If the justice of the peace wasn't in the office today, I was going to ask if he or she had performed a same-sex wedding before. I didn't want any surprises in the form of religious objections on Thursday.

Quite a waste of time. The folks in the clerk's office couldn't have been nicer. I'm pretty sure that the woman who filled out the paperwork with us is the same woman who did the paperwork for our dog license last year, which is kind of quaint. We laughed about that on our way out of city hall.

It was a complete contrast from twelve years ago, when as a college student in upstate New York, I needed to have a form notarized in order to go to my first gay bar. (They needed a notarized form if you were under 21. It's worth pointing out that none of the straight bars and clubs felt they needed to protect themselves with notarized paperwork.) Never one to plan ahead, I picked up the form from the gay bar on a Saturday. My school had notaries in the registrar's office, but they didn't work on the weekend. So my boyfriend (lower case 'b,' he's long gone) and I drove out into the wilds of upstate New York to find a notary public who worked on Saturday afternoons. We found one, in Cortland, New York. A woman who worked out of her home, a little white farmhouse. She was very polite, until she saw the form I wanted to have notarized. "Oh no," she said. "I don't notarize those forms. I'm not going to help people like you." I was speechless, but my boyfriend had the presence of mind to tell her that she could fuck off and go to hell, for which I will be forever grateful. It's something I'll never forget, and it's made me somewhat wary. I don't like to need the cooperation of strangers, so I'm always ready for them to be adversaries.

I didn't really see the necessity of a waiting period until the city clerk handed me a copy of the marriage ceremony he usually uses. Really, it's perfectly nice. I've been at perfectly lovely weddings that probably used the exact same language. And he's willing to change whatever we'd like, or substitute any other script we'd like. But reading through this, all I can think is, "Isn't there a version for cynics? I'd like that one, please."

I'm going to have to look around on the web, but I doubt that my google search for "marriage ceremony cynical utilitarian" is going to turn up very much.

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