Thursday, February 12, 2009

Some day...but not today

It was a bright, sunny, 75-degree day in Tallahassee, FL. I had just finished up with a client, slipped on my jacket and pride necklace, and rushed out the door to hop on my scooter to get me to the County Clerk of Court's office on time. I didn't want my partner waiting too long for me. Because today, we were going to apply for a marriage license. An entourage of supporters met us and followed us in, and we were directed to the place where we were to fill out step one of the application process.
The marriage application in Florida does present a bit of a problem for a lesbian couple. There is the section for the groom to fill out (I noticed it was at the top, and "bride" was on the bottom). Since I was the one holding the clipboard, and I really didn't know if I was a bride or a groom in this case, I decided to make myself the bride. I was in the pants and my partner was in the skirt, so it just seemed fitting to do a complete cross-casting of the application.
There was a young African-American couple ahead of us. I was looking over the groom-to-be. He and his fiance I guessed were in their 20s. He had a New York Yankees cap perched on his knee, and seemed content to let his fiance be the one handling all the papers. He seemed relaxed, and she seemed in charge. Not all too dissimilar to my coupling.

It was our turn. My partner and I approached the clerk with our paper and our driver's licenses. We took our seats as she looked at the application and the identifications.
And there it was. The shift.
I am assuming that when we first approached her, she may not have initially realized that we were two women. Tallahasseeans are often fooled by my appearance frequently referring to me as "Sir". However, this woman was able to quickly discern that our application contained two female names, and our driver's licenses also clearly indicated that we were both women. And when she saw that, her backbone straightened.

"Of course, you know, I am going to have to deny this application," she said. Another clerk had wandered up behind her, arms crossed over her chest. I think this other woman might have been there in case we were to become aggressive.

"Yes" we both said. And then my partner explained that what we were doing was part of a national action to call attention to the inequity in the marriage laws. As my partner spoke to her, I saw the woman glancing over at me. She, wearing a crucifix, might have been drawn to the button I was wearing that said, "Gay And Christian".

"You don't have a big red 'DENIED' stamp you can put on the paper, do you?" my partner asked. The clerk smiled and said no she didn't. At this point, both she and the other clerk seemed to be relaxing when they realized we weren't going to cause a scene. We thanked her for her time, and each shook her hand, and then we, and our entourage, departed peacefully. Although the media was notified about this event, not a single newspaper, TV or radio station sent some one to interview us. I guess Florida's indifference, bordering on rudeness and hostility, toward gay people is NOT news.

What is news was how I felt coming out of the experience. I was saddened. I didn't cry because I think I'm beyond crying about this issue. But I was sad that I could watch another couple so easily go through the motions of getting a marriage license, but I can not. I was saddened that as a notary public licensed and bonded in the state of Florida, I can marry other people, but I can not get married myself. And I was saddened that something that I believe should be done as an act of love for another person has become a political protest to make a point. I really wish it were not that way. I wish I could live out my fantasy of standing in front of a priest at St. Andrew's-by-the-Sea in Rye Beach, NH, with my partner and saying, "I do"...and having it count. Some day....but not today.

Love is patient. Love is kind. And love will prevail.

Proof of our application. Photo taken by Linda Miklowitz...after we'd been turned down.

1 comment:

pineyflatwoodsgirl said...

Susan, Forgive my lack of knowledge of the marriage laws (all the more amazing since I have had four attempts, arf! arf!)but why can't you and your SO go to a state that WILL marry you?
Elopement to another state is a time honored tradition!