Late the Friday night, gay marriage became legal in New York State. When the vote came through I was on Fire Island, a sandbar oasis an hour or so out of Manhattan, a vacation haven for LGBT folks. It has always been a place where gay couples could walk hand in hand and kiss on the beach and not have to self-censor. It is why 10 years ago my partner and I chose to have our glittering white wedding here.
Our wedding was a moment both private and public, because my partner and I were the first lesbian couple ever listed in the NY Times Wedding Section. It was September 2003 and many curious eyes turned our way to see what a gay wedding looked like.
On that day, we donned our white dresses, slipped into our flip-flops, put our flowered wreaths on our hair and walked hand in hand into the shelter of the forest with 100 loved-ones. There with the waves audible in the background, amidst much singing and cheer we took the vows that have sustained us ever since.
It was a wonderful day. But also bittersweet. Our friends' love and support of our untraditional and not legally sanctioned marriage was abundant. But the absence of our four parents despite personal invitations left an ache. They did not approve of the relationship. They feared for our welfare, even our safety, and the moment of our wedding did not feel celebratory.
I recall someone saying, "You can get all dressed up and throw yourself a wedding party, but it's still not legal." The comment cut to the core. Without or parents, without it being legal, was it still a wedding? We asked our friends to sing, "God is watching us... from a distance."
We had the only wedding I have ever attended where the altar was a fruit bowl. Yes, a fruit bowl. The irony isn't lost on us. But there's a story behind it. The fruit bowl is a tradition we created and yes, perhaps this is something only a gay person would do, but it comes from the musical Cabaret. In Cabaret a Jewish man loves a gentile woman. He is a fruit vendor and although it is wartime and fruit is scarce he courts her with jewel-toned fruits. A bag of apples and an orange. As an engagement present their friends give them a lovely crystal fruitbowl. But the Nazi's are on the rise and it becomes tragically unclear that the times are just not ready for their kind of relationship. Before the marriage even occurs they have to part ways. We were quite aware that as a same-sex couple, we were just a hairsbreadth away from this outcome. We felt very grateful for all that was possible.
In our wedding our nieces came forward with armfuls of fruit and filled our crystal fruitbowl as we acknowledged all the ways we were blessed to live in a time when two women -- two Jewish women -- could be doctors, could be openly gay professionally and personally, to have been able to meet and have the wedding we were having today surrounded by love. It was not lost on us that this was an event that would have been impossible in other corners of the globe, impossible in our grandmother's time. It had been one year since 9/11 and no one was taking liberty for granted. We felt blessed.
Now it is 10 years later and my pride is once again matched by my gratitude. I am grateful to everyone who had the vision that gay marriage was possible and had the perseverance to follow through on such a lengthy challenge. Had you asked me on the day of my marriage if it would ever be legal I would have told you no.
I am grateful to those gay marriage mentors I have known who had kids years ago when few LGBT people did and who showed us that same-sex couples can be married despite what the law says, can raise happy, healthy children, and can pursue this dream. Had they not made me believe that my vows mattered and my family was legitimate regardless of the law, I would not have the blessings of the traditional family life that I now have.
I am grateful to my parents who have come so far in 10 years, now proud grandparents to our two daughters, who adore my spouse and who shared our joy last night when the vote came in from Albany. I am grateful for the Senators who shared time with constituents and friends who were gay, and allowed themselves to notice that our families are just like theirs. It takes a lot of courage to admit you have changed your mind.
I am grateful to my spouse who I asked last night, "Will you marry me... again?" And she said yes. This time, our parents will be there to walk us down the aisle.
I am grateful that time heals, and that we grow, and that our country knows how to grow with us. It is a very proud day to be gay.
Follow Alicia Salzer, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/aliciasalzer