i’m gonna try to write words, but i know that my words will not do the experience justice.
today, i had the pure joy, honor, + privilege to perform my first wedding ceremony. and as if that wasn’t enough, there were many other factors that made it even more amazing…
about 2 weeks ago, i got an email from someone who had seen my officiant/minister profile online. she introduced herself and told me that she + her partner of twenty-six years (!) wanted to be married. they were from alabama and wondered if i could meet them in murphy – a little mountain town in north carolina that borders georiga, tennessee, and alabama – and perform their ceremony.
well, of course i said yes!
so, today, after emails back and forth for the past 2 weeks and preparing a ceremony that that approved of, i hopped in my car and drove through the mountains, on windy roads, through colorful woods, and by a rushing river to get to murphy. i was excited, nervous, and so humbled to be doing this.
i parked my car on the main street in murphy and saw the courthouse, big + beautiful, overlooking the downtown area. suddenly, i realized that we were in very conservative, rural country and people might not look too highly on two women getting married. the ladies would have to go into the courthouse and apply for their marriage license, and legally they have every right to do that, but i wondered how people would react in the office. i was now nervous about any negativity that we might encounter.
i made my way to the register of deeds (where you get your marriage license) and waited for the ladies to arrive. the elevator dinged, and two women appeared – all of us instantly knowing who the others were. one of the ladies gave me a hug, the other shook my hand. lesbian vibes bouncing everywhere in that little hallway.
after a few moments of just meeting face to face, we walked into the office. they were nervous. i was nervous. and the lady asked what she could help us with. the two women proudly said that they wanted a marriage license, and the woman behind the desk said, “certainly. can i have your id’s?”. that was it!
apparantly, same-sex couples from the surrounding states had been showing up in murphy all week in order to get married. remember, it is now legal in north carolina, but illegal in every other southern state. so, the past 2 weeks, since it became legal, people have crossed state lines in order to fulfill dreams.
for these two women, it had been a dream that they both thought would never happen in their lifetimes, they told me as we stood there while the paperwork was being processed. they fidgeted, one more than the other, and they just wanted to get it over with. but, they were so elated to have this opportunity.
i can’t even imagine… being together all of those years and not able to openly show their love. alabama is even more backwards than north carolina. they described to me how they hid their love for each other for a long time, how they snuck about, and how they just confronted their bullies. they have been through a lot, way more than i have, and here they were, about to make their family legal – able to truly take care of each other. in this moment, they were being treated just the same as other couples seeking to be married. it was a huge moment.
so, with the marriage license in hand, we headed back upstairs to find a place to do the simple ceremony i had planned for them. we saw a staircase with a large window behind it – the staircase was the main one in the center of the big, ornate courthouse. we decided that would be the spot.
i stood with my back to the window and they faced me, side by side. and then… the words just flowed. they answered and proclaimed their love and promises to each other. i began to choke up as i got to the pronouncement part. they were beaming. we were all gitty. and then, i said it:
“You have each chosen this common road of marriage, and from this moment forward your intentions and paths are united. You have expressed your commitment to one another and taken to yourselves the relationship of Partners in life and solemnly promised to love, honor, comfort and cherish each other for all the days to be. So live vibrantly. Hold fast to your ideals. Challenge one another, and give each other new experiences of joy.
Therefore, in accordance with the laws of North Carolina and by virtue of the authority vested in me it is my honor to declare you married, partners in life, spouses for life.”
after the ceremony and filing the marriage license (my other job as minister), i walked around downtown and found myself having lunch in a cozy cafe. i just sat, beaming, feeling like i was going to explode. knowing that i was fulfilling some of the things that i am meant to do in this world.
i basked in the knowledge that i got to be part of something huge today. and i am completely humbled by the fact that i shared such a special moment in the lives of these two, inspiring women. what an incredible, incredible experience.
now, i’ve still not come down from my high. and, i am ready to keep on celebrating. gonna have some dinner with my brother and my wife soon – both of whom are super stressed and not at all in the same place emotionally i am in tonight. hopefully i will make them feel better.
then, tomorrow, we are attending a greek orthodox wedding for our dear, sweet friends in asheville.
and, get this, i am performing another wedding ceremony on sunday – for a friend and former co-worker.
that’s right, that 3 weddings in three days. love is in the air!
What a beautiful love story. It brings joy to my heart.
Me too! I was filled with so much joy!
This is amazing liz!
I was thinking last night, in my before sleep state about the Ig post I saw related to this…
Legal terms wise in the US with marriage I’m confused… if people are crossing states so they can marry where legally able to do so, does that mean back on their home turf state, despite our being down the road across state borders, it’s not recognised?! If so, isn’t that ridiculous and confusing?! And if it is recognised but not allowed in that state, why the hell not just make all US legal and stop the half and half weirdness?!
And ps… After reading your little bit at the bottom, I feel I would love to get you to pen some words for me…
It is really confusing how different states can have different rules. The federal government (US gov’t) recognizes same sex marriages – that means that on a national level for taxes, deaths, + green cards/visas, all marriages count. However, on the state level, as you know, it varies. So, my getting married in NC, the ladies will be recognized by the federal government, and can be a part of each others’ taxes. Plus, if one dies, then they are seen as married when it comes to the national death tax. However, they are not recognized as married in Alabama – so with heir state taxes they have no rights, can be discriminated against, and cannot visit each other in hospitals = they are not seen as a legitimate family in Alabama. This is how it was for me and Lina here in NC up until 2 weeks ago. Now our marriage is legal int he same way in NC, the USA, and Sweden.
So, while they still are not recognized in Alabama, they are afforded some national rights as a married couple, and this was important to them since they are older. Plus they were tired of being together and not legally married – though its not legal in Alabama. Its so damn confusing and unbelievably wrong that there can be so many discrepancies.
And the US government can’t make all states recognize it, because the US was set up to allow certain law-making rights to states. If the whole US government could make all decisions then that would be seen as being a socialist country – and many people are feared out about that. So it’s always confusing between US laws and state laws – and sometimes they don’t match up, which makes for a mess. This is how it was with slavery too, back in the day.
Personally, of course, I am annoyed by all of the states’ rights things. xx
Thanks for the fab update, gosh it is confusing! But mega pleased that there are some national level rights that make it worthwhile to those not in a state of equality! ♥
I’m so head in the clouds about it sometimes, but maybe because to me I’m v lucky and the equality thing is there. I never have to hide anything!
Oh, and thanks for the comment on my writing. I’d be happy to find something beautiful for you should you ever need it. 🙂 xoxo
Just a reminder, dear heart and fellow pastor… even if it is joy in the event… Eu-stress and De stress are the differing heads of the same coin and you will want and need to take time off and out to recover. Sabbath exists for all creatures! And …
HOW DANG COOL?!?! #weddingjealous
Oh, yes! Tomorrow is my day off!! I’ll be sure and make sure I have some me time. 🙂
wow. beautiful. im so happy for them. and for you!
Thank you!! It has been a whirlwind, beautiful weekend of love. xx
[…] posted about this wedding the other day, so i won’t go into all of the details again. (you can read my original post here). but, i did have to include some photos from the day. my drive down to cherokee county, in the far […]