My original plan for this column was to write some pithy, tongue-in-cheek article about how no one really keeps New Year’s resoultions, blah blah blah, yaddah yaddah yaddah. (Besides, it’s already been done, and I have more fun stuff to write about!) Instead of that, I’m going to write about my amazing Uncle Mike and his partner of 30 years, Cliff, who got married at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day.
My uncles met on my birthday, four years before I was born, on February 4th, 1984, and have been together ever since. They’re more committed than plenty of other couples I’ve met throughout my life, and they’ve always been incredibly loving and patient with each other.
Having never really experienced a Christmas season or important family gathering without them both, I can say that growing up with Mike and Cliff in my life isn’t something I ever really thought of as “different” or “exceptional” until I grew older and other people described it as such. To me, they were like all of the other Aunt-Uncle combinations in my family.
For years, Mike and Cliff said they would never get married. Perhaps this was because it wasn’t really a possibility, and perhaps it was because both of them are highly successful professionals in their respective fields, and in the past gay marriage wasn’t as acceptable as it is today. Whatever their reasons were, they (fortunately!) changed their minds this year when the state of Maryland voted to legalize gay marriage. They sent out their wedding invitations not long after the election ended.
Their wedding was a wonderful gathering of their friends and family, many who traveled long distances to their Baltimore condo for the special day. For me it was a fantastic opportunity to get know some of the friends and colleagues my Uncles have known for years, but I had never met.
My Uncle Cliff FINALLY made my Uncle Mike an honest man, as they said their vows on the rooftop of their condo, overlooking the Baltimore harbor. I was lucky enough to get to hold the countdown clock, so that they could say “I do” at exactly midnight. As they kissed their first husband-and-husband kiss, the celebratory New Year’s fireworks exploded over the bay.
It was a beautiful, simple ceremony. I don’t think my uncles could have chosen a more ecstatic and appreciative group of people to cheer for them and their marriage. After 30 years of committed partnership, Mike and Cliff have beaten the odds that many couples have failed to overcome.
The morning after the wedding, my family gathered together for breakfast before parting ways. I teasingly asked Mike and Cliff if they felt any different, but they both answered “no”. A marriage certificate isn’t an indicator of a certain level of love, but for them, it does signify social progress.
Mike and Cliff are still just as perfect together as they were before the wedding–only now they get to quietly declare their love to the public, as legally legitimate spouses, in a way that was never possible before.
In my opinion, it’s both wonderful and sad that witnessing a marriage like theirs is such a rare thing. I hope to be a part of many more same sex marriages in the future. And if I’m really really lucky, all of the marriages I witness in the future will be as loving and joyous as Mike and Cliff’s.