I never thought that little piece of paper and ceremony would mean this much. If I had any questions about that, it was answered when all of our wedding guests had gone home Saturday night, and Jason and I had time alone. The look of joy on his face was the most beautiful expression I’ve seen in our 10 years together. It was pure joy and empowerment. His look was so reassuring and loving that, in all honesty, even after 10 years, it melted my heart. You can talk all about those 1,100 rights that that piece of paper gives you, but to me the most valuable it thing it gave was that one look — that look of joy on Jason’s face.
For Jason and me, it all started May 20, when our city was about to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The man in charge, Register of Wills Ron Donatucci, had honored me by having me deputized to assist in handing out the forms. It was reported on the news and Jason called to ask if I’d like him to join me. I think we both knew at that moment that we were helping other couples, so why not us?
Unfortunately, in the rush to get to City Hall, I had forgotten my wallet. City Councilman Jim Kenney (who wanted to be a witness on this historic day for the LGBT community) and Ron heard Jason and me talking and since, according to law, the $80 license fee must be paid in cash, Ron and Jim each paid $40 so Jason and I could get a license. Then, we noticed that the license was only good for 60 days.
Since we live a very public life, we decided at that moment that we wanted a very private and small wedding with no hoopla — no public officials, celebrities or press — and all our invitees were sworn to secrecy. Family came in from six states and our friend Judge Dan Anders was the only choice to perform the ceremony. That led to the question of who cried more during the ceremony — the grooms or the judge.
We each spoke our vows, and when Judge Anders uttered that line, “By the power vested in me by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” and then he added “and Judge Jones,” a chill of joy and emotions hit me hard.
We had planned to take all the relatives from out of town to brunch on Sunday but, during the reception, Jason explained that the family wanted to keep this private so we were hosting the brunch at home. This meant that, after the reception, Jason and I had to go shopping. In our suits, and freshly married, off we went to the only store we knew that would be open at midnight: Walmart. We were the happiest people you would ever see at a Walmart.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at https://twitter.com/PhilaGayNews.