Sunday, January 24, 2016

A seventh Anniversary

Seven years ago today, on Saturday, January 24, 2009, Nigel and I had our Civil Union ceremony and a party afterward. At the time, it was the only way for us to have our relationship officially recognised. We were later married, but the civil union was our big ceremony.

We didn’t rush to get a civil union when they became legal, as I’ve mentioned before, and for me, part of the reason is that it seemed like a kind of consolation prize: We weren’t allowed to marry, but we could have this other, separate thing, that wasn’t marriage but that was almost exactly the same—apart from the fact that we weren’t allowed to marry, even though opposite-sex couples were allowed to have a civil union.

This is how I put it in 2014, at the first anniversary of our civil union after we were married:
For me, personally, [a civil union] was always inferior to marriage—something the government allowed same-gender couples to have while also restricting the choice for either marriage or civil unions to opposite-gender couples only. I felt like an unwelcome guest at a party, one who’s accommodated, but not really part of things. I was an outsider. Still.
I felt like our noses were being rubbed in how second-class we were, as can be inferred from what I said elsewhere in that post. However, that doesn’t mean the civil union wasn’t important, because it absolutely was important. Most obviously, at the time it was the only way to have our family status legally recognised. But it was also an opportunity for family and friends to gather with us to celebrate that legal union, the first opportunity to do so in the 13 years we’d been together (if I was dubious about civil unions, I saw absolutely no point whatsoever in “commitment ceremonies” that had no legal purpose whatsoever; others clearly felt differently, and that’s their right, just as it’s mine to consider them pointless for me).

The fact that the freedom to marry did arrive, and we were married, means that remembering the civil union anniversary might have faded away. I don’t think it should, and I intend to continue to remember it. As I said last year,
…Personal anniversaries are important to people precisely because they’re personal. Others may join in celebrating, or not, but that doesn’t change anything for the couple. So, our civil union anniversary will be important to us for what it meant, and so will our marriage anniversary, and partly because it completed what began that horribly hot January Saturday back in 2009.
We’re now just another marriage couple, one that’s been together over 20 years now—it’s just that unlike most opposite-sex couples, our engagement lasted some 13 years—or 17, depending on how you look at it. In any event, we got there, and were still here, and all that is well worth celebrating.

So, happy anniversary to us! And, this now concludes the 2015-16 “Season of Anniversaries”. Carry on.

Posts from previous years

2009: Perfect Day – where it began
2010: One and Fifteen
2011: Second Anniversary, squared
2012: Three years ago today
2013: Fourth Anniversary
2014: An anniversary
2015: Anniversaries

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