A good friend called during work hours early this week and said he had something important to discuss. Immediately, I thought that he was calling to say he was engaged now that New York is about to allow same-sex marriages.
As it turned out, he was calling about an idea he had for something entirely unrelated and of a less thrilling nature. I love a good wedding, and my friend, if and when he decides to marry his long-term partner, would probably throw one hell of a party.
Because of him, the same-sex marriage debate in New York State was personal for me. It was inconceivable that he, the best man at my own wedding, could not enjoy the same basic rights I do as an adult citizen of the United States of America.
And I thought, too, of the gay children of other friends. How could it be that they could not grow up, fall in love, and marry whomever they damn well pleased. What if one of my own children was told by the state who was an appropriate spouse and who was not? If ever there was something for government to mind its own business about, it was this.
I remember going into Town Hall back in 1998 with my now-wife, Lisa, for our marriage license, though I can’t recall who on the staff handled the paperwork. We had the required documents, and enough cash to cover the modest fee. At no time did anyone question our choice of each other, and it was a lighthearted transaction. We might even have received a gift bag with laundry detergent samples and other things newlyweds might need.
Monday is the first day that the town clerk’s offices in East Hampton and Southampton Town Hall will technically be able to process marriage licenses without regard to the gender of applicants.
Not that I wish any more work on the long-suffering town clerk staff, but it would be gratifying if there were a long line of spouses-to-be there hoping to be among the first same-sex couples here to take officially sanctioned vows.
My friend and his boyfriend will not be among them, but at least they now have the option. And, you know what? It’s about time.