What a day it was today in D.C.! After an up and down period, same sex marriage was finally legalized in the city today. The morning news showed scores of couples lined up outside of the courthouse building ready to apply for marriage licenses. This brought me back to when Wonderful Husband (then Wonderful Fiance) went to apply for our own marriage license.
Anyone who's ever gotten married in this city knows what I'm about to say. The courthouse is not generally happy place. And the Family Court section might be one of the least happy areas. It's so bad that when you arrive at the courthouse, the security guards easily notice you. One said to us, "You must be here about a wedding. Fifth floor." When you're preparing for wedded bliss, you can't imagine that anyone else might not be so happy as you. And then you go to the Family Court section of the D.C. Courthouse.
Upon arriving on the fifth floor, you walk down what WH and I christened "The Hallway of Bad Decisions." Lining the hallway are all the alarms and stop signs that could possibly deter someone from getting married. We walked past the domestic violence unit, the mental health section, the counsel for child abuse and neglect, the paternity and child support branch, domestic relations, juvenile and neglect branch, family treatment court, and, of course, the bail bonds office. Now, I'm not trying to make light of all these very serious problems, but I am still wondering why the Marriage Bureau had to be at the end of a long dark hallway, which required passing them all on the way.
Upon arriving at the Marriage Bureau, you see directly in front of you a very unsturdy trellis adorned with faux roses, ivy, and tulle. It's painted white, of course, and hanging behind it is a sign that says "NO PHOTOGRAPHS!" Once you've applied for your license, you must walk back down The Hallway of Bad Decisions to pay for your paperwork. The door to pay for your license is right next to the bail bonds door. And when you open the door, you walk into one big room with four windows, similar to bank tellers. Three of them are for people bailing out loved ones, and the fourth is for the happy anomaly of people getting married. What, exactly, was the purpose of the two doors?
You don't actually get married the day you apply, you must wait at least three days, and then come back (maybe so you could marinate on what you saw down The Hallway of Bad Decisions?) and if you still want to go through with it after that, then you get to get married. When we returned, we were dragging both sets of parents and siblings, as well as his family and cousins from across this country and abroad. For his family and mine, the D.C. goverment was no big surprise. We all know (and have known for some time) that nothing really makes sense in this city, but his family from out of town (and outside the country) was unawares of what lay before them as we made our way back up to the fifth floor. As we traipsed down The Hallway of Bad Decisions, there were snickers, pointing, and whispering. Clearly we're well matched, as we both come from families full of snark.
Having only been to the outer office of the Marriage Bureau, we had no idea what to expect once we were ushered into the room where the judge would marry us. Nothing particularly interesting. Another trellis with fake flowers, and a podium, where we said our vows and became husband and wife -- but the rest of the room looked, basically like a conference room.
But you know what? Surrounded by our families, taking a step that we had waited a very long time to take, and joining our lives and families together, it didn't matter what the room looked like, what hallway lay before us, or if we were the only happy people in the building. This was the day we had long awaited. So knowing the path that my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters walked this morning, I can only say that despite what was on the road that it took to get to today, I wish for you a day that is happy and a union that is fruitful. Just be sure to ignore The Hallway of Bad Decisions.