This is Dave and me at our wedding, 44 years ago today. It was small, just a few people gathered at my in-laws’ house. We were married by Dave’s former football coach who also happened to be a justice of the peace.
My mother was a little bit distressed that we weren’t having a preacher. There was one present, but he was merely a guest. No prayers. In hindsight, I’m really glad about that.
But all the picture-taking, and all the words said over us by Coach Lollis were really not the wedding.
This was the wedding ceremony. That’s Lollis standing there with us supervising our signatures on the paperwork.
Marriage is a legal contract. In the years since, we’ve bought and sold a dozen houses, and opened and closed numerous banking and brokerage accounts, and we’ve signed lots of paperwork.
Signing the papers to get married was just like that (except that buying a house if you have a mortgage involves way more signatures and lots more paper).
Never once did it cross my mind forty-four years ago that not everyone could do what we were doing. In the years since we signed that document, we have almost never (maybe never – I can’t remember a time) been asked to produce it to prove our legal status. We’ve changed our legal residence from one state to another about seven times. Nobody has ever questioned our claim to be legally married. We have taken it for granted, for forty-four years.
If we had to produce that document today, I’d have to hunt for it.
I am so happy to be living in a period where other people are beginning to get the right to do what we did so long ago.
My sincerest wish for them is that one day, they too won’t know where they put that document. They will be able to just take it for granted that when they tell somebody they are married, it will be accepted without question the way our marriage has been for forty-four years.