The release of my latest book, Legally Wed, has me thinking a lot about marriage. Gay. Straight. And to illustrate the course my thinking takes, here’s an example of two weddings—one gay and one straight—that my husband Bruce and I attended a couple of summers ago.
Two summers ago, Bruce and I were honored to be among the guests celebrating the nuptials of our dear friends, Chris Lopez and Jeffrey Martel. We have known the couple since they first met and couldn’t have been happier to be a part of the joy, love, and happiness that was part of this special day.
The wedding had several unique things going for it. For one, the setting: groom and groom stood said their vows outdoors, within the wolf and elk habitat of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo as their backdrop. Seeing big-tusked elk meandering about behind Jeff and Chris and the minister was a bit surreal, but somehow fitting: the wildlife setting complemented what was a very natural joining together of two people in love, committed to the other. When the ceremony paused for the classical quartet to play a lovely rendition of “Ave Maria”, it seemed the wolf pack to the right of the ceremony actually paused to listen. They had been restless before and, honest to God, they all quieted and became still as the music floated out on the summer night air.
I wanted to list a bunch of other things that made this wedding unique, but you know what? I can’t think of another one. And that’s a good thing.
Later that same summer, Bruce and I went to the wedding of his niece in Minnesota to her groom and the thing that struck me about these two weddings–one gay and one straight–was not their differences, but their similarities.
Both were held outdoors in a gorgeous setting (our niece was married to her husband in a botanical garden), settings one might say were blessed with both temperate weather and an abundance of natural beauty. Both had a misty-eyed captive audience, united in witnessing the joining of two lives as they began their journeys together down life’s highway. Both, and this one is the most important, displayed a palpable feeling of love and happiness as not only the couple getting married was swept up in the joy of the moment, but also their friends and family.
After Jeff and Chris’s wedding, we headed inside for dinner, where a Grizzly bear, not three feet away in his sanctuary, watched from behind a glass wall (a heavy glass wall). We then all moved to another building for dessert and dancing.
At the reception, the same feeling persisted: the atmosphere of love and commitment, strong enough to be like a scent in the air.
I said to Bruce, “You know, if some of those people who opposed gay marriage could be here tonight and see all these people—friends, family, wedding party—coming together with such happiness and deep love, I think they might see this day as not something to be opposed, or hated, or feared, but exactly what it is: two people who love one another and who want to make a lifelong commitment to the other and have that promise witnessed by the people they hold dear.”
I’d like to believe that the folks who oppose gay marriage do it out of fear or ignorance. I’d like to think they’ve never had the privilege of witnessing what we saw last night—the spiritual uniting of two people. How, I wonder, could anyone be opposed to something as pure and simple—and profound—as love.
Because marriage—gay, straight—is really just about that: love. And it’s not about what’s between our legs, but what’s between our ears…and in our hearts.
Love is love. Why on earth, or in God’s name, would anyone want to deny that to his or her fellow man or woman? We can only be strengthened, as families, as a society, by encouraging and celebrating love and commitment.
Blurb (Dreamspinner Press/2014/Contemporary Romance)
Love comes along when you least expect it. That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants—a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life—and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.
Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?
Same-sex marriage had just become legal in Washington State and Duncan Taylor didn’t plan on wasting any time. He had been dating Tucker McBride for more than three years and, ever since the possibility of marriage had become more than just a pipe dream, it was all Duncan could think of. He had thought of it as he gazed out the windows of his houseboat on Lake Union, on days both sunny and gray (since it was late autumn, there were a lot more of the latter); he had thought of it as he stood before his classroom of fourth graders at Cascade Elementary School. He had thought of it when he woke up in the morning and before he fell asleep at night.
For Duncan, marriage was the peak, the happy ending, the icing on the cake, the culmination of one’s hearts desire, a commitment of a lifetime, the joining of two souls. For Duncan, it was landing among the stars.
And for Duncan, who would turn 38 on his next birthday, it was also something he had never dared dream would be possible for him.
And now, too excited to sleep, he was thinking about it—hard—once again. It was just past midnight on December 6, 2012 and the local TV news had pre-empted its regular programming to take viewers live to Seattle City Hall, where couples were forming a serpentine line to be among the first in the state to be issued their marriage licenses—couples who had also for far too long believed this right would be one they would never be afforded. Many clung close together to ward off the chill, but Duncan knew their reasons for canoodling went far deeper than that.
The mood, in spite of the darkness pressing in all around, was festive. There was a group serenading the couples in line, singing “Going to the Chapel.” Champagne corks popped in the background. Laughter.
Duncan couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he watched all the male-male and female-female couples in the line, their mood of jubilation, of love, of triumph traveling through to him even here on his houseboat two or three miles north of downtown. Duncan wiped tears from his eyes as he saw not only the couples but also all the supporters, city workers, and volunteers who had crowded together outside City Hall to wish the new couples well, to share in the happiness of the historic moment.
And then Duncan couldn’t help it, he fell into all-out blubbers as the first couple to get their license emerged from City Hall. 85-year-old Pete-e Peterson and her partner and soon-to-be-wife, Jane Abbott Lighty, were all smiles when a reporter asked them how they felt.
“We waited a long time. We’ve been together 35 years, never thinking we’d get a legal marriage. Now I feel so joyous I can hardly stand it,” Pete-e said.
It was such a special moment and it was all Duncan could do not to pick up the phone and call Tucker and casually say something like, “Hey honey, you want to get married?”
Dreamspinner Ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4531
Dreamspinner Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4532
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Legally-Wed-Rick-R-Reed-ebook/dp/B00HNXIT5U/
Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Legally-Wed-Rick-R-Reed/dp/1627982043/
Rick R. Reed Biography
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
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