This Friday I’m taking a week off from analyzing the state of female playwrights to highlight another equality issue close to my heart. On Monday, Governor Martin O’Malley introduced legislation to legalize marriage equality in Maryland, where my wife and I live. Many of us in the community thought a similar bill would pass last year, and I can say for myself that I didn’t do nearly as much as I could have to support the effort. I’m not making that mistake again. I’m going to do phone banking, show up for hearings and lobby day (February 13) in Annapolis, and help with fundraising for the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition. This Wednesday I had the opportunity to do just that, in my first experience speaking at a fundraiser, along with my wife, Candace. She talked about coming out at a time when she never thought marriage would be a possibility, as well as explaining generally why marriage equality is important. And what did I say? Well, I’m glad you asked…
My Fundraising Speech
I’m a little new to all of this – I don’t have as much experience giving speeches as my wife does. But as a playwright, I do know the power of telling our stories. So I’d like to share our story. Or my version, anyway.
Candace and I met seven and a half years ago, playing rugby for the Washington Furies. I know what you’re thinking! And as Candace likes to say, there’s a little bit of truth in every stereotype. But it did take me a little while to figure out that the giddiness I felt every time I went to practice wasn’t just because I loved playing rugby – it was also about getting to spend time with a very special teammate. Fortunately, we both eventually acknowledged our feelings and started dating.
Well, anyone who’s fallen in love can imagine what the next couple years were like. Then, on the third anniversary of our first date, Candace took me out to a wonderful dinner at Two Quail in Capitol Hill, and proposed. Of course I said, “Yes!”
I called my parents that night to tell them, but unbeknownst to me, Candace had already asked for their blessing, which they had lovingly given. So we started planning our wedding – but the question was, Where? This was when DC was still debating marriage equality, and we decided we couldn’t wait for them to make up their minds.
It was important for us to go somewhere to get legally married – well, for lots of reasons. But first of all, why not? Seriously. I had grown up always expecting to get married someday. When I figured out that I would be marrying a woman, that didn’t change anything in my mind. I was still the same person, so why should other people, or out-of-date laws, treat me differently, just because of who I fell in love with?
On the practical side, my dad’s an estate planning lawyer, so I’ve always known the importance of wills, powers of attorney, and legal protection of all kinds. Especially when Candace and I bring children into this world.
So, we decided on Boston for our legal wedding, while my aunt and uncle in Kentucky generously offered their back yard for a ceremony with family and friends. That day was truly special, to declare our commitment in front of our loved ones (including my grandparents from Kentucky), and feeling everyone’s amazing love and support.
But our legal ceremony in Boston was also special in its own way. We had three good friends in attendance. One of them acted as Justice of the Peace for the day, and married us in a park, with geese providing the music. After the ceremony, we rushed back to city hall before it closed and got everything signed and filed. We have a picture of the two of us holding our marriage certificate right after we got it – and we’re just beaming. But I also thought about the many people in this country, and this state, who would disapprove of the way we showed our love for each other that day – including members from both of our families, though they’re in the minority. Because of that, getting legally married felt like a bold act. It felt brave – and awesome – as if holding that certificate was telling the world, This is the woman I love, and now she is legally my wife. And no one can tell me otherwise, and they better not try to deny us any rights they’d bestow upon themselves.
I’m sharing all of this to illustrate why marriage equality matters to me personally, and to hopefully to inspire others to action. So, the pitch: if you live in Maryland, click on some of those links above and join me in the campaign. Share this post. Contact your legislators (especially if you live in Maryland, New Jersey, or Washington state) and talk to your friends. (Maine, North Carolina, and Minnesota will all have marriage-related questions on the ballot this fall). Help usher in the victory!