I knew at a very early age that I would never get married. I also knew I would never have children. When my mother would say, “someday when you get married and have children…,” I would nod and smile, knowing in my heart that was not in the cards for me. In the 1960s, getting married meant to a man, and I just knew that was not going to happen.
But I also I knew I wasn’t destined to be alone. When I was 10, I heard a song on the radio, “Come Saturday Morning,” by the Sandpipers, that spoke of fun and exciting Saturdays spent with a special friend. I knew I would have that. I just couldn’t picture who that special friend would be.
Fast forward 10 years through the tortured teens of realizing that special friend would be female and my inner turmoil, homophobia, and fear. I’m 20 and in a relationship with another lesbian. It’s 1980, and marriage was the last thing on my mind. Marriage was part of the patriarchy, a way to keep women in their place. Nope, not me.
I had many relationships with women after that one, most of them long-term. Serial monogamy. But even when the work started to be done to make gay marriage a reality, it was still “no thanks.”
But then something changed. When I was 45, in 2005, I met the woman who would become the love of my life. Suddenly, (and it was sudden) I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I wanted to be married to her. I wanted that lifetime commitment. I wanted the ceremony. I wanted the ring. I had never wanted that before, and the feeling was almost overwhelming. I had never loved anyone the way I loved Sandy.
No one was more surprised than me on the day I asked her to marry me. I don’t remember exactly when it was—around 2007, I think, but I do remember we were visiting friends in NYC. I hadn’t planned it. One morning the feeling just came over me and I went with it. I even got down on one knee. She said yes and asked me to marry her, too. We were overjoyed and shared our good news with friends and family.
We didn’t set a date. But in 2009, Sandy was going on a business trip to Connecticut. That state had legalized same-sex marriage in 2008. We looked at each other and said, “why not now?” So, we decided to elope.
We engaged the services of a wedding officiant named Mary Pugh. She arranged the trip to the Darien City Hall, the paperwork, and the ceremony. We mixed in our own vows with the traditional ones. We dressed in our best business suits.
On the day, we were running late. We had to catch a train from New Haven to Darien. We were running though the station in our heels, up endless stairs as the train was boarding, with our luggage bouncing behind us. “Hurry, honey!” I yelled as we bounded up the last set of stairs to the platform. She had lost her shoe on the steps and the train doors were closing. I raced ahead and planted my back against the closing doors (a trick I’d learned on the NYC subway) just long enough. We were out of breath, but we made the train.
The Darien City Hall was about the size of Dover’s—tiny! We met Mary in the parking lot and walked in. We followed the sign for licenses—hunting, dog, marriage. Mary facilitated all the signing of the papers. Then we had a beautiful ceremony in the main hall that she videotaped. After that she took photos. I cried, of course—and my red and puffy eyes are evident in the pictures. Oh well. We said “I do” on Friday, November 13, 2009. It is the best thing I’ve ever done.
We didn’t have to wait too long before marriage became legal in Delaware in 2013. And then, it became legal nationwide, following the Obergefell v Hodges case in the US Supreme Court on June 26, 2015.
Like everyone, I am concerned that the ruling is now in the crosshairs, as the right overturns Roe and takes aim at the civil rights cases that followed. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know they’ll take this ring off my dead body. And I’ll take as many of them with me as I can in the process. Hopefully, it won’t come to that.
In the meantime, I just enjoy my Saturday mornings with my special friend—my wife—and all the other days in between. And, like the song says, we will remember long after Saturday’s gone. ▼
Beth Shockley is a public affairs specialist and a former editor of Letters.