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OutLoud: One Step Over the Line

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Just across the border, Sally and Wifey find civil marriage—and some civility.

Jeez, that felt good. Nothing like a little Canadian marriage to lift a gal’s spirits. What a pleasure to walk into a downtown Vancouver office, chat with the friendly notary public, and walk out with an actual, legal, uncontestable marriage license. Just like that. No muss, no fuss. Just a nice guy doing his job and happy to pop our wad of bills bearing The Queen’s portrait into his cash drawer and into the Canadian economy.

My bride and I had crossed the border into a country where nobody trounces on your right to marry. You simply set a date with any official marriage commissioner in the province, show up with your notarized license, and get legally married the same as any other couple can. Pretty cool. So remarkably, shockingly, unabashedly normal.

Not that I’m pushing assimilation. My message isn’t that lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer people are “just like” heteros. Why set the bar so low? LGBTQ folks have our own special contributions to make, questions to raise, comfort zones to tweak. But still, queer as we are, British Columbia treated Wifey and me like everyone else, equals under the law. A shining moment of full equality–what a terrific feeling.

We were so happy. Although if you had seen us that afternoon in the commissioner’s living room, you would never have guessed it, the way we carried on. We both cried through the whole ceremony. I mean really cried. It was a simple civil service, and the two of us were weeping as if we were at some funeral. They were tears of joy, I guess, but something even more than that. We felt a spiritual and uplifting sensation of truth and affirmation that justice–equal rights for everyone–is not only possible, it’s already happening.

How awesome to stand there in the kindly commissioner’s modest home–Pachelbel’s Canon playing not-so-softly in the background–hold the familiar hands of my partner of 19 years, and recite our vows, the same vows recited by every other couple married under Canadian law. Our bond was sealed by the power  vested in this unfazed marriage commissioner when she pronounced us “married.” We signed our names to the official registry, which–she told us over a pink Koala toast to our happiness–will be archived in the annals of national history forever. O Canada!

Back here in Oregon, our state legislature recently approved nondiscrimination and domestic partnership bills. It’s not quite total equality, but it’s a huge step. The opposition is freaked, of course. They’re still outraged at having to share the planet with us sex-crazed predatory godless queers. They’re launching another “Save Our Children” referendum–as if children aren’t already desperate for salvation from homophobia and religious intolerance. It’s all so frantic and fearful and stark-raving wrong.

But just north of the border, across that thin geographic line, is another, more peaceful, more accepting world where equality for everyone is already the law of the land. When it happens here, it will feel fabulous!

Sally Sheklow received both first- and second-place honors in the magazine column category in the 2005 Houston Press Club Lone Star Awards.

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