Skip to main content

Betsy Block


Love Letter from Boston

Love Letter from Boston
The invitation to the first gay wedding was a simple blue card with a twine bow glued on. "Please help us celebrate as we tie the knot," it said. K and E had already had a large, expensive commitment ceremony five years earlier, so this one, the one that would make them legal, was going to be simple and cheap. It would be held in a small room at their church; about 30 of us would watch them exchange vows at 5 on a Sunday, then head into the adjoining room for pizza and beer. Our kids were welcome to come because, of course, the brides' own two kids needed playmates. As the minister blessed them, and as K and E shared with us some of their original "wedding" vows, their toddler grew loud. The reception, too, got a little noisy when a half-dozen members of the under-seven set raced around the perimeter of the dance floor, but the ice cream course quieted things down again. Still, while raucous, the festivities didn't go late: The whole affair was over by 6:30. After all, there were baths to give, teeth to brush.

The next invitation's thick, creamy paper stock clued BD and me into the fact that this time, the kids would be staying home with a sitter. We would only be attending the reception; the ceremony itself had been held for a select group of family and friends in May of '04, the week gay marriage became legal. We entered the foyer of a beautiful museum west of Boston at 7 p.m. on a wintry Saturday and were promptly met by waiters bearing trays of drinks and assorted hors d'oeuvres. We hadn't known this was going to be a major shindig with a steel band, assigned tables and orchid centerpieces, but we adapted fast.

This evening doubled as a twenty-fifth anniversary party; there were 120 celebrants, from 16 all the way up through Grandma. When we left at 11, the party was still in full swing, though the hora had already been put to bed. (When one of the dancers was lifted up on a sea of shoulders, the stern-faced guard standing against the wall opened her mouth in protest, but she closed it and pursed her lips again without uttering so much as a syllable. She probably knew better than to argue with a roomful of gay men, 11 rabbis and an assortment of old Jewish ladies, all celebrating the joyous occasion in the traditional manner.)

There's something awe-inspiring about attending the weddings of couples that have already been doing the hard work of marriage: These are not first-time homesteaders hoping for another place setting. These are adults who, though not "married," have already been raising children, making a home, loving each other through thick and thin. Unlike typical weddings, these aren't promises made; they're promises already kept. Also unlike typical weddings, both couples asked for no gifts.

If gay marriage spreads to other states, in the future it probably won't be quite so magical. Instead, it's likely that gay weddings will become more like the usual kind, where you sit in the back row rolling your eyes and taking bets on whether the happy couple will make it to Christmas. But for now, Massachusetts is the only state that seems to have it right; it's merely putting a stamp on what's best about love, then sending it out like a rose-scented valentine.

NB: CM from Canada (Ontario, is it?) wrote in to point out that gay marriage has been legal there since 2003. Yet another reason to admire our neighbors to the north.

Tropical Champagne with Lemongrass Syrup

cup sugar
cup water
4-inch piece of lemongrass, cut into small circles
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin rounds

Combine everything in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes or longer, until it tastes spicy enough for you. Let cool, strain, pour some into a glass (makes enough for about four drinks), add Champagne (or, more wisely, sparkling wine, but Champagne cocktail sounds so much better, don't you think?). Give it a little stir, if needed.

Raise a glass to love.