For the third year in a row, my boyfriend takes me to his company's holiday party. This year it is held at a bowling alley in a Seattle suburb. Disappointed after not winning any door prizes, and uninterested in donning bowling shoes, we decide to put our drink tickets to good use. At the bar, we have been cornered by the girlfriend of one of his co-workers, an aggressively progressive, budding photographer.
"I'm going to showcase some of my work at a gay marriage expo," she says over the din of pop music. "You guys should come!"
Suddenly we are both totally engrossed in our respective drinks. The photographer continues, undaunted. "Is gay marriage even legal here?" Her brow suddenly furrows, and I can see the dollar signs fading from her eyes as she realizes that being a gay-wedding photographer in a state where gay marriage isn't legal might not be the lucrative venture she was envisioning.
"Here in Washington, it's really close to being legal," I say.
"But back in Oregon" -- where the marriage expo is to be held, and where we live -- "not so much," my boyfriend finishes. We've become one of those disgusting couples that finish one another's sentences.
"Well," she says, summoning her LGBTQ solidarity, "we refuse to get married until it's legal for everyone." The relief on her boyfriend's face upon hearing this is palpable.
"Right on," I say. "So do we." In my head this is funny, but in reality it is just awkward. We all become totally engrossed in our drinks.
The truth is, the marriage thing has been coming up a lot lately.
My father, less delicately, recently asked, "Can your people get married yet?" I don't even know how to respond to this one. My dad apparently is operating under the belief that, despite having contributed to my genetic makeup, I am somehow descended from some indigenous people with an innate affinity for snappy dressing, witty repartee, and small, yappy dogs (though none of these traits describe me, I can only guess this is what he thinks).
I get it. When a couple has been together for a reasonable amount of time, there are expectations. You're supposed to shack up, buy a house, and adopt a Guatemalan orphan. And make a lifelong commitment to one another.
This is the dream of a recently engaged friend of mine, Misha, who eats, sleeps, and dreams of nothing but gay marriage. He calls his fiancé the love of his life. They were picking out engagement rings on the second date. (This is only a slight exaggeration.)
So when the news came on Jan. 23 that the state of Washington's legislature has enough votes to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, I was unsurprised that he was the first of my friends to post about it. While Misha greets the news with the enthusiasm a hipster would afford the release of a new Apple product, I am somewhat less stoked. My own commitment to social causes is relegated to "liking" them on Facebook.
I mean, obviously I want everyone to have equal rights. It's just that it was a lot easier to be unmarried when it wasn't an option. With more and more states recognizing the right of consenting adults to legally commit to one another, it's only a matter of time before equality comes to the entire country. I have trouble committing to a decision about which doughnut to get (hint, all of them!), so not being able to wed has been a convenient cop-out when it comes to the ultimate commitment. But now that the tide is changing, what are commitmentphobes supposed to do? Get married?