Dear Mr. Booker,
Everyone just loves my husband, Fred, and me. Together we paint a portrait of 21st century Americana. We are proud to own a little yellow Cape Cod, smack dab in the center of Boardman, OH. With two dogs, full-time jobs and college life, we traded our nightlife for domestication and studies; we have also become excellent knitters. Today, Freddy and I celebrated two years of marriage, which is no small accomplishment in this day and age of 36-hour Las Vegas marriages. All in all, our life together does not sound much different from most Americans.
However, my husband and I are not legally wed. According to the ring on my finger and his last name attached to my first, one would think that we have the major ingredients for a binding marriage arrangement. Sadly, if we want to make it official, we have to move away from the very place we have always called home and now together have made a home.
It was two years ago in New Orleans. I was applying my fangs to go to The Anne Rice Vampire Ball, my boyfriend then jokingly got down on one knee and proposed to me with a cheap plastic gold-tinted ring featuring an orange, cushion-cut plastic jewel, that he bought with his mother. I blushed and chuckled, and then, before I knew it, he and I were actually engaged. For months, I screamed with joy, “I’M A BRIDE!” With the full support of our families and friends, a year later, we went back to the same place were we had fallen in love and by the stroke of noon on the 30th of October, we where pronounced husband and husband. Behind the happiness lurked the knowledge that the act of consummating our marriage was punishable with five years of imprisonment under a 195-year-old law that today is still upheld in some cases.
There were many questions when we bought our house, got life insurance, made out our last will and testament, changed my last name and signed power of attorney papers. However, we did not mind repeating answers, making jokes and signing on the many dotted lines. Fred and I thought if we could have 12 different pieces of paper then that would be equal to the one piece the heterosexuals get when they get hitched. Our struggle is not new and is far from over. Even today, on my anniversary I am forced to grin and bear it when people look me in the eye and ask if I am “legally” wed. What they are asking is: “Are you ‘really’ married or just playing pretend?” I tell them the truth.
Our marriage is not legal in Ohio and on our tax returns, we are listed as single men. However, before family and friends, we pronounced our vows to one another and took pictures of the happiest day of my life on the steps of a church we were not welcome in. Together, Fred and I strive to be gay ambassadors, proving that our life and love is not challenging the sanctity of marriage or corrupting “family values”. Rather, he and I have picked up the torch that so many minorities have carried on their upward steps for equality and of American freedom.
There is no way that one minority community can compare its struggle to another’s. One group has had a more dangerous journey or tumultuous anti-cultural experience. Instead, I write to you, to ask for you to stand with us in spirit, and share your wisdom to my LGBTQ family, on how to fight injustice and be seen even when it is the most dangerous thing you can do. Thank you for considering my point of view, your pause gives me hope that every generation will think about the next that follows and how together we can finally all live as equal men and women, in a free America.
John C. Veauthier