There is a mass wedding for same-sex couples being held at 7pm on Tuesday June 17 at the Gay and Lesbian Center in Long Beach, which is close to my neighborhood here in Southern California.
With two children, a teenage sister, two cats and a dog named Buddy living with us, the plotting and planning of our lesbian wedding is getting complicated. We've had to discuss and decide on many important things as a couple and as a family in the past few weeks such as, should we get married at a mass wedding? Do we add homophobes we're related to on our guest list? Do we even want to get married under these circumstances, knowing we might have to tell our children our status was taken away in November?? Let me tell you friends, it has been an 'emotional rollercoaster' these past few weeks. Dealing with the different aspects of the plotting and planning of my lesbian wedding have left me physically tired yet even more determined than ever to marry Gina because she is the love of my life and the one woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. At this point, after all the drama, Gina and I have decided to keep it simple.
After we found out that we had rights, we were extremely excited and we told the family and friends that were closest to us and had shown us support all these years.
What was very surprising was the reaction happened to be a very mixed reaction, rather than a united front of congratulations. I felt like some of our very dearest family and friends still viewed us as ‘second class citizens'. We were very hurt and I’ve done a lot of crying lately. Writing the guest list became an emotional event, and it really scaled back the plans that we had. Our first thought was to of course go all out and have a big wedding. Finances combined with the need to marry by November crossed that off the list and the next option was a small ceremony with about 100 guests, possibly in a banquet room at the local Marriott, with cake and champagne afterwards, plus apple cider for the kiddos. Our guest list has about 100 people that are just close family, so we had to cut out a lot of other people from the list at that point. We decided we would take a nice photo on our big day and send out announcements to the people that we couldn’t invite.
Then another reality set in - our families are not going to help us with the cost… we’re on our own here!
When I think about it, I just spent a ton of money defending myself in family court where I got totally financially screwed because I am gay (there’s no other way to put it!); and I’ve also spent a ton of money to secure my children’s future plus change my last name because those things don’t come with a domestic partnership. Plus I have to go back and appeal the family court ruling, file a complaint against the judge, and request transcripts too… it gets very expensive! Looking at our final guest list, we realized we were inviting people who we know don’t support our relationship just because they are closely related. It really made me feel like I was about to put my household in a financial bind to make sure that every body else, including those who don't support our relationship, would have a nice time on our big day. Sorry friends, but I just can’t bring myself to do that!
This was a nice change for us because we were able to let go of a lot of the stress of planning a big wedding in such a short amount of time.
We decided we would keep things small and just do a civil ceremony at the County Clerks office. I looked into the website for the Los Angeles County Clerks office , and found that we can apply for our marriage license online after 5pm here on June 16, and then we can pick it up as early as 8am on June17th. We can schedule an appointment for our ceremony at the time that we pick up our marriage license, and we are hoping that we will be able to get married the same day. The County Clerks office in Norwalk is where we will be going to pick up the license since there is no appointment needed, and they will be performing same sex wedding ceremonies that day until 8pm on a first come, first serve basis (article). Each of the County Clerks offices in California is handling the event differently, for example the clerks office in Bakersfield which is opting simply to not marry anybody anymore, gay or straight (article). The County Clerks office in Nevada City is planning to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples starting 8am on June 17th (article), while the county clerks office in San Francisco has pulled some strings to start doing so at 5:01pm on June 16th. They are asking couples to BYOB – bring your own bell – wedding bell that is! You can read more about that here. Plus here is an article with “Reader questions and answers on gay marriage“ by the LA Times, and an article titled “What Do I Need To Know About Getting Married In California?” on the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center website here .
In the meantime, Gina and I are getting ready to head down to the Clerks office on Tuesday.
We’ve started an online wedding registry here which donates to the Equality for All Campaign. Any couple can register online here. We’re getting ready mentally to handle our big day and become Mrs. and Mrs. Phineas, even though we’ve lived as though we are married for about 5 years now. Some of our friends and family have been asking us what we plan to do, and there have been a few opportunities to have our ceremony on TV. In the midst of everything we are trying to stay connected and focused on our family and home life. After all of the details are worked out, the bottom line is that we love each other, and we want to protect our wishes in regards to our relationship and family with the marriage rights that we deserve.
Both Gina and I have come a long way from wanting the big flashy wedding in front of everybody, to simply cherishing a hugely symbolic moment in time that is shared only between me and her.
We are getting the wedding jitters but we are committed to each other and our life together so any talks of prenuptial agreements, divorces, and even bucking the establishment by not getting married were met with laughter and a kiss. After an initial shock of the reality of it all, and going through the pre-wedding planning in such a short amount of time, we are still committed to spending the rest of our lives together. Since there is no big wedding to worry about, we are just spending these few days preparing our minds, scheduling the babysitter, and deciding how we’re going to do our hair. Let the naysayers say what they will, but we are moving forward with our love and our life together, and Tuesday we hope to take the final step towards equal rights for our relationship together. I’ll definitely keep you posted, when I post part three of My Lesbian Wedding… Our Big Day!
Until then, thank you for all of the congratulations that I have received and for the well wishes on our big day!
About the Author: Julie Phineas is a work at home mom of 2 who lives in Southern California. You can find out more about her by visiting her website at www.juliephineas.com.