Monday, February 16, 2004

Valentine's day in San Francisco

Boing Boing pointed out this first-hand account of the marriage marathon currently in progress in San Francisco.

We walked around the side of the line and saw hundreds of same-sex couples in all states of dress (punk to tuxedo to family heirloom dress to just-off-the-street-in-work-attire). One couple wore yarmulkes and carried a siddur; another couple looked like ordained ministers, but I didn't know for sure of which Christian denomination. (It must be one willing to ordain gay women.) At the back of City Hall, the line was making its way through the door past a group of about half a dozen well-wishers with big pink signs. They looked like high school students. One of them was carrying an American flag with gay rights symbols in place of the stars.


The balcony opposite ours was set up in the same general way: officiants, couples, families. We heard frequent applause as people there were pronounced "spouses for life", and shortly the same thing happened right in front of us, perhaps three or four feet from where we stood. There was no privacy, and there was merely a basic decorum; nothing was ornate or elaboratively choreographed. The emphasis seemed to be on speed with appropriate respect. (One couple carried signs saying that they had been together for 18 years and had wanted to be married the whole time. Dan Bern says "I know how I hate to wait / Like even for a bus or something / An important phone call / So I can just imagine..." but of course I can't imagine. [...]

Zack and I applauded for the couples as they were married, and shook hands with them. The couples were as diverse in age as they were in dress: I saw a pair of women get married and was sure they were younger than I am. And I saw and was most touched by several weddings of people who had likely been waiting even longer than 18 years. Two women of my mother's age, or a little older, were married right in front of me, and they started to cry. I almost started to cry, too.

We did see history. We saw a dozen or two dozen people get married on Valentine's Day, who all very badly wanted to and who got their chance.

I think this is the most hearwarming thing I've read in quite a while, and I'm glad San Francisco is doing it. What are you waiting for, Nashville?

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