a toast

My friends Liz and Alexis Fuller-Wright got married last Saturday. After the ceremony, they invited toasts from whoever wanted to give them, but I spent a lot of that period in the bathroom (no reason, just bad timing) and thought of mine too late. It doesn’t sound as good written down as it did in my head, but I said I’d post it, so here it is. Congratulations again, guys!

I got married in 2008 — Liz was there, she’ll back me up. And when I was married, I was lucky enough that the state of New Jersey (don’t laugh) extended me several privileges, including the legal right to do certain things and the official recognition of our marriage as just that — a marriage. New Jersey, as you may know, allows same-sex couples to enter a civil union in which they receive most if not all of the legal rights attendant on a marriage. You may also know that our governor recently vetoed a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry in New Jersey.

That’s a sobering thought, that if my brain had developed a bit differently, I wouldn’t be able to call my spouse a spouse in my home state. The place where I grew up, where I’ve paid taxes since I graduated college, where I got my PhD, where my memories of living with Shin-Yi and, more recently, with our baby girl Una, all reside. I’ve been privileged enough not to have to labor under that particular burden—the thought that there are government officials who would strip me of my right to marry, if they could; that there are countrymen of mine who would do the same, and worse, if they could.

And so I’d like to salute the bravery of these women who stand together before us, who face that threat and choose to love one another openly in its defiance. And I’d like to salute their families, whose bravery can hardly be any less. Katie quoted Dr. King during the ceremony, and I believe that the arc of the universe does bend toward justice. But it’s you before me now, those who join your lives today and those who affirm that joining, who exert the force that makes it bend. You’re making the world a kinder place for my little girl, regardless of whom or whether she grows up to marry, and for that I’m in your debt. Thank you, and all the best.

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