Personal TMI question: How was your wedding like?
Well, it was nearly five years ago and Clif and I had already been together for 5 years at that point.
I was in Puerto Rico for a couple of weeks for one of my treatments and Washington D.C. had just started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples just a few days earlier. Clif’s brother (Roger) called him and told him about it and asked him if it was something we had thought about doing.
We had thought about it, a lot actually, but until that point in time all the states where gay couples could marry required a residency in the state for a certain amount of time. We live in Florida, so up until that point we had decided to wait until it was either legal here in the state of FL or until there was an option that did not require us to move.
We already had plans to drive up to Virginia (where Clif is from) a week after I got back from PR to visit Clif’s family. The trip also served another purpose; to spend time with Shirley (Clif’s mom) who was battling cancer. We knew that she was on borrowed time.
I got a call from Clif while I was in the car in Puerto Rico in bumper-to-bumper traffic. He told me that D.C. was allowing gay couples to marry and then said “So, you wanna get married!?” So Romantic, right!? My response was equally poetic: “DUH!”
Once I was back in FL (with a hefty wedding present from my folks) we sent all the necessary documents (birth certificates, copies of our driver’s licenses, etc.) to his brother Roger who then did us the favor of personally taking it all to the courthouse to start the application process. Then there was the issue of who would marry us. If we decided to do it through the court house we would’ve had to wait several weeks for an opening, but the universe again threw us a bone and Clif just happened to stumble upon a news article on Yahoo News that would solve that problem. The article was about this man named Michael Newman who had become a reverend online for the sole purpose of marrying gay couples in the D.C. area. On the article there was a picture of him and his wife (he is white, she is black) holding up a sign at a gay-rights demonstration that read “Our marriage was once illegal too!”
At the end of the article they included his email, and so Clif took it upon himself to write Mr. Newman and tell him of our story. How we were going to be in his area in just a few days, how we were already applying for a marriage license with the help of his brother, how our time there was going to be limited… but most importantly he told him about Clif’s mom and her cancer, and how we were trying to do all this while she was still with us.
The next day we received a reply in which he told us how happy he would be to marry us and that all we had to do was let him know when and where and he would be there.
Once in VA things moved very quickly. Clif’s mom decided to gift us our wedding rings, and Clif’s family arranged a nice dinner for us for after.
We bought some new clothes, got cleaned up, and a few days later we tied the knot, on the grounds of the Capitol Building. It was a beautiful sunny day, cherry blossoms in bloom, and Shirley found the strength to be there and stand there with us. We both read our vows on our iPhones (as any respectable geek would) and we promised ourselves to one another forever. It was an amazing day…
Three months later we would be driving back to VA for Shirley’s funeral. We are so grateful that everything happened the way it did. Everything fell into place, and we were able to not only do something we had wanted to do for years prior, but also share that with his mom. It made it all extra special.
Javi + Clif / March 19th 2010.