Reception

Published by Yahoo Voices, 2013

The following year, 2014, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing same sex marriage in the state of Illinois.

She looks so much like my girlfriend. This is the thought that keeps recurring inside my head as I wait for my main course. I mean, of course, that girl at the head table, the one in the wedding gown. She is vivacious, flamboyant, ecstatic, and she will have this day to recall for the remainder of her years. She really does look like my girlfriend. She has the same color hair, the same wide eyes, the same huggable just-right-size body, and the same almost-too-perfect-to-hold hands. The resemblance starts to hold my gaze a little too long, so I leave my table to go wandering.

While I drift through people I either don’t know or don’t care to know, I imagine what my own wedding would be like. Traditional, yet different, I suppose.  Every time I think that I know exactly how it would be, I have second thoughts about who would be in the wedding party. I reconsider having “Ave Maria” sung because, although I know my mother loves it, at my sister’s wedding it made her cry. 

I’ve always wanted to get married, and I’m sure that this girlfriend is “the one” even though that sounds corny even to me.  But we do share a love that neither one of us would have ever thought possible. We have grown together, done every romantic thing we could think of together, yet we still make little discoveries about each other every day, even after having been a couple for so long. With that kind of love, marriage just seems to come naturally. Like the couple that I am here to support today, we would make that final symbolic gesture of devotion, knowing that the commitment is forever, from within, and not being afraid. Still, the priest’s voice echoes inside my head, “God bless and keep this man and this woman…”

My girlfriend went to a different wedding today. Equally close friends of ours were tying the knot, and choosing one couple over the other wouldn’t have been fair. So, I came here, and she went there. I wonder as I eat my prime rib if she is doing what I am doing, sitting where I am sitting, thinking the things that I am thinking. Like the couple at the head table, sometimes we can feel each other’s presence even when we are apart. She’ll come home sometimes and know that I thought about her at 4:17 in the afternoon because she was thinking about me at 4:17 in the afternoon.  I smile to myself at the thought of my girlfriend as I lightly socialize. At the same time, I am still desperately trying to ignore the priest’s voice inside my head reciting “And God created woman so that man would have a companion…”

Standing at the bar wondering if my girlfriend is drinking what I am drinking, I look back at the head table once more. This time I ponder my friend, the individual next to the jovial bride. I find it bizarre that his new wife reminds me so much of my own girlfriend, yet he and I are so many worlds apart. I don’t look like him. I don’t think like him. I do not hold the place he does on this earth. Yet, although we are opposite poles, I can love like him. What divides us is simple; it is the same thing that allows him to have this day while I remain denied. He is a man, and I am not.

Some people are against gay marriage because it interferes with their religious beliefs. To those people I say consider this: If I were to die tomorrow, they would give me a traditional funeral. They would deliver a eulogy, prayers would be offered, and a priest would quote scripture while standing over my grave. I would receive the same ceremony that any one of the same faith would receive. Similar incantations would be spoken for me as they would for the funeral before me and the next one after me. My girlfriend would grieve as any wife would, yet they would not recognize her as my widow. And she would hear the priest’s voice echo inside her head…

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