Last week I got to partake in a historic event I never thought I would see happen:
A federal ruling allowed gay marriages within my hyper conservative state of Utah and hundreds of homosexual couples flocked to the various clerk’s offices hoping to get a license before the motion could be overturned.
So many people showed up there was no way everyone could be helped and many were turned away. The Utah Pride Center sent out a message asking for anyone who could officiate marriages to go to their local clerk’s office to help out so I did.
The building was packed with lines of couples winding around several floors and stairwells hoping to get a license. In the lobby they set up small marriage stations where people could legally be married within moments of receiving their paperwork.
I found a spot in the lobby and help up my makeshift sign that read ‘Clergy’ and within seconds my first couple was standing before me.
I asked every couple I saw how long they had been waiting for an opportunity to be married. The shortest term I heard was three years, the longest was over 40. It was a mix of emotion. I was so happy they were finally getting their chance yet so sad they had to wait so long.
I will never be able to describe the honor I felt being a tiny part of their journey. Hearing the stories and seeing the joy on their face, it was impossible not to be touched. The clerk’s office asked us to keep each wedding under three minutes long because we had so many to do. Hopefully we were able to do something special during that short amount of time.
Along with the thousands of gay people who showed up to show support I would like to tell you about some of the non-gay people who were present.
There was the girl who was officiating next to me who went online the night before to get her certification. She didn’t know anybody who was getting married but wanted to be a part of it and show support in the only way she could think of. There was the guy with the giant bag of rice who would throw it over every couple the second after their first married kissed.
There was the woman who owned a bakery and believed everyone should have cake at their wedding that showed up with boxes and boxes of cakes. She gave me so much cake I’m still fighting off the diabetic coma.
There were the photographers offering free prints. There was the guy who handed out water bottles to the people waiting in line and would also hold their spot if they had to use the bathroom. Finally there were the dozens of people who swarmed me every time I asked if someone would be willing to sign as a witness.
How do I know none of these people were gay? Because they all told me. In fact they were very vocal about it wanting the couples there to understand not every straight person is homophobic and believes in our State’s antiquated and narrow vision of what love should look like.
I ended up performing 23 weddings that day and from what I understand, I was a low number. It was wonderful picturing similar things happening all across the state. I can’t imagine a better way to begin the Winter Solstice.
Love can extremely difficult. Relationships are hard enough without State and Church involvement. I truly believe that if loneliness could be linked to death, its mortality rate would be higher than cancer and heart condition combined.
Often times we don’t get to choose who we fall in love with. More often than not the people we fall in love with don’t feel the same way towards us. It can be difficult to find companionship. If you’ve never had this problem then you are truly blessed because feeling alone, unloved and misunderstood can be soul crushing.
It’s a thousand times more frightening to open your heart than it is to close it and build defenses around it. Shouldn’t we always encourage love, compassion and kindness? If you love someone make sure they know it. Don’t just assume they know.
Show them you love them to the point of redundancy, embarrass them with affection and never be afraid to stand by their side. You might even get a piece of cake out of it.
*The State of Utah is not honoring these marriages. Health coverage and spousal benefits are currently on hold until a Supreme Court decision can be made. The initial court ruling lasted only 17 days and over 1,300 same sex wedding ceremonies were performed. As far as I know none of the fees the state received for marriage licenses has been returned. I’m confident this will change once there is a Supreme Court ruling but for now it’s quite sad.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Photo Credit: Jose Antonio Navas/Flickr Creative Commons
Other Photos Provided by Author Darren Lamb
Assistant Editor: Dana Gornall