The year was 2000. The place was St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Lexington, Kentucky. Lynne and I were coming up on our 23rd anniversary, but we faced a dilemma that we had to resolve. The church service that we had begun to attend, an informal Saturday afternoon meditative service, invited those attending to come forward for a special blessing if they had a birthday or anniversary to celebrate. The congregation would then read the stock “Birthday and Anniversary” prayer for those who had come forward.
OK, so what’s the punch line, you may ask. Lynne and I disagreed about whether we could go forward for that blessing. The argument went something like, “I’m not going to that church if we can’t go forward to ask for that blessing,” followed by “But I don’t want to expose ourselves to people’s disapproval and ruin our anniversary.” We obviously needed to negotiate, which we did. Our agreed solution was to go early to ask the priest if we could come up for the blessing, and then if we did, we would stand next to each other, our shoulders could touch, but we couldn’t hold hands.
There’s a happy ending to this story. The priest was Sandy Stone, an effusive, huggy kind of warm reach-out person. We were the only ones who came forward for the blessing, and when we did, she grabbed both our hands in hers, and asked everyone present to come forward and reach out to touch us while they read the prayer. Which they did. There we stood, surrounded by strangers touching us and holding hands, being blessed by the Birthday and Anniversary prayer.
We were uplifted. As we walked down the sidewalk towards our car, I felt lighter, taller, and happier. Some heavy stone had been rolled off of our hearts.
Twelve years later, here we are in Washington preparing for our wedding, thanks to the legislature and 54% of Washington voters who affirmed our right to marry. We are having the wedding in our home. We invited 38 people and they all accepted. We have wonderful music and readings planned, and we timed it so that the sun would be setting outside our picture window during the service. We have two warm, supportive ministers officiating, one of whom is gay. I’m sure I will cry throughout the service, and at the end, we will be invited to kiss. After 35 years, it will be our first in public.