The equality movement is chugging along like a freight train with the lights on and the horn blaring. Living in the south, we are well aware that our home state is resisting change and pushing back with anti-gay legislation. After becoming a brand new family of three, waiting for marriage equality in Tennessee had become less desirable and frustrating. I have always joked about shotgun weddings, but I believe there is some subconscious thought process after a child is on the way that made us both start to plan the “official” happily ever after.
A date was set while both Matthew and I were on paternity leave. The three of us would travel to Washington, DC for the time needed to apply for a marriage license, the three-day wait period and the actual ceremony. We carefully debated the idea of inviting our parents, but after the adoption process that was still ongoing, our new little family will be the only ones participating in a very private ceremony. I am sure there are many of you that can relate with me on this, the adoption process is very open and public. You are constantly networking in an effort to reach potential expecting mothers who are considering adoption for their unborn child. Our previous 14 months had been a frenzy of emotions and exhaustion and this was our chance to share a special moment without the worry of planning, catering, hotels and everyone commuting seven hours to the nation’s capital.
Our marriage trip was spectacular. The decision to have a private ceremony as a family was the perfect way to celebrate and enter into this life long commitment. Words cannot describe this beautiful day that will forever be imprinted in my mind. The weather was phenomenal. Harper looked beautiful in her white dress. Yes, someone had to be in a white dress. Instead of a wedding cake, we celebrated with a street vendor hot dog. Our wedding was one of a kind!
Our Mini Wedding Album
There are several things that I learned on our journey to marriage and parenthood. The majority of people support equality. A large majority! We were very concerned with possible reactions that we might receive when applying for a marriage license. Everyone was spectacular and Harper stole the show. Living in Tennessee, we have been beyond surprised by the outpouring of support and encouragement from our community. This experience was very moving for both of us and we are optimistic about full equality, even in the south, as days pass by.
People consider our relationship as newlyweds and think it is a fairly new commitment. We have now been married for almost six months, and our lives technically are no different from before. Matthew and I would have married years ago if it were not for discriminatory laws in Tennessee. It seems like we hear the word commitment a lot. “Marriage is a huge commitment” and “We are excited for your commitment.” The truth is, our commitment started six years ago. March 11, 2008 we made our commitment to each other. The major difference is the lack of commitment many states have towards their citizens and recognizing their commitment to marriage equality.
By: Shannon Ralph
I was asked an intriguing question this week. Completely out of the blue and totally unexpected, Ruanita (a-little-too-casually) asked me the following:
“So…do you think we should hyphenate our last names after we get married?”
To be perfectly honest, this had never occurred to me. Amazingly—despite the tornadic whirlwind of wedding planning and re-planning I have done all alone in my bustling little brain—the question of changing my last name never even crossed my mind.
Here’s the thing, I experienced a bit of buyer’s remorse sixteen years ago when we had our illegal (I like to use the term “ illegal” because it makes us appear much more hip and dangerous than the bland couch-huggers we really are) commitment ceremony. At the time, we decided to keep our own last names. Actually, I don’t know if we ever even consciously made that decision. We just did it. Or rather, we just didn’t do it. Probably out of simple laziness.
Looking back now, I wish we had changed our names. Or at least that one of us had. Ruanita has never been very keen on becoming Ruanita Ralph (I don’t blame her…sounds like your everyday 8th grade dyke P.E. teacher, doesn’t it?). I, however, would have no issues with being Shannon Pierce. It just didn’t occur to me at the time.
When Lucas was born, because Ruanita and I did not have the same last names, we made the rather innocuous decision to hyphenate his last name. He became Lucas Matthew Pierce-Ralph. Not an altogether bad name.
If truth be told, however, I despise hyphenated names. I don’t know why. I know some perfectly lovely people with hyphenated last names—including two who were expelled from my very own vagina. (Okay…that is a lie. They were born via c-section, but “expelled from my own horizontal lower abdominal incision” doesn’t have quite the same pizzazz.) But I still hate hyphenated names.
As such, I really have no desire to hyphenate my last name. I mean Shannon Pierce-Ralph wouldn’t be so bad, I guess. I could get used to it. But there is still the “ick factor” with hyphenated names that I can’t get past.
I think I am just old fashioned. I firmly believe the members of a family should all have the same last name. That is so very anti-modern of me, I know. But I can’t help it. I am a product of my homogenous 1970s Southern Catholic school upbringing. I went into a mild mourning state when my mother remarried for the first time years ago and was no longer a Ralph. I’m a Ralph. She’s my mom. Logic would dictate that she should be a Ralph, too, right? Today, she is Shirley Marie Hardesty Ralph Robbins Bauer Ralph. Why can’t everyone just be a freaking Ralph?
As you can imagine, the fact that my children have hyphenated names bugs me. Besides the fact that they do not have the same last name as me, I am kind of saddened by the fact that I can’t buy any of the cheesy monogrammed stuff that places like Oriental Trading Company sells. You know, those wooden plaques and Christmas ornaments and tote bags and door knockers and mailboxes that say:
I can’t buy those because we’re not the Pierce Family. And we’re not the Ralph Family. We’re not even the Pierce-Ralph Family. My kids are Pierce-Ralphs, but I am not. Ruanita is not.
This is one of those instances—few and far between—where I would like to go back in time and make a different decision. Given the option of a do-over, I would have become Shannon Pierce sixteen years ago. My kids would be Lucas, Sophie, and Nicholas Pierce. We would have been the Pierce Family. The Pierces, Established 1997. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Alas, I am not a Pierce. And neither are my children. We already have three people in my family with hyphenated names I do not care for. Why add two more to the mix? And I don’t think my kids would be keen on changing their last names now anyway. I mean, my daughter spent the last year of her life being referred to as Sophie P.R. in school because there were three other Sophies and/or Sophias in her class—so much for original naming. (As a side note, why she would not be Sophie P. instead of Sophie P.R. is simply beyond me. I mean…what the hell?) I think my kids like being Pierce-Ralphs. At least, they’ve never complained about hyphenated names. I am pretty sure, like so many other instances, I am the only one with an issue here.
And, aside from the psychological toll of changing a ten-year-old’s name, can you imagine the bureaucratic nightmare legally changing five last names at once would be? I don’t even want to think about it!
So do I want to hyphenate my last name? No. Do I want the members of my family to all have the same last name? Yes. Is one possible without the other? No. Am I shit outta luck? Yes.
There you have it.
By: Amy Wise
Who knew on a fateful day 19 years ago while driving up the 805 freeway in San Diego, my life would change forever?! That was the day I “met” my hubby, and our future was set in motion. The story still blows my mind!
Now, flash forward to…August 21st, 2011…our 18th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by since that first day we saw each other on the freeway. We have been through so much together and have come so far, and neither one of us would have ever imagined that we would be where we are today. We are best friends, shoulders for each other, lovers, parents, partners, soul mates, and so much more. There are days when we laugh, there are days when we cry, and there are days when we want to “strangle” each other, but there is never, ever a day that goes by that we don’t love each other completely. We don’t take each other for granted and we realize how lucky and blessed we are to have each other.
Time has changed circumstances, but time has not changed us. We are more in love today than the day we got married. There is a deepness to that love that only time, heartache, life, happiness, and challenges can bring. It’s the “getting through” and the “making it out” of the dark times that has truly allowed us to embrace the “bright times” with joy.
I love my husband not just with all my heart, but deep down to my soul. We just fit so very perfectly, while also being so very different. It’s hard to even explain.
As we celebrate another anniversary, I want to say thank you, for the most amazing, life altering, wonderful, 18 years! I love you Jamie J…happy, happy anniversary! Here’s to many, many more! We rock!
By: Tom Butts
It’s unfortunate, but airlines aren’t the only thing affected by a big snow storm. The so called “Snow Storm of the Century” could also delay Congress weighing in on DC’s decision to make gay marriage legal. How do these two topics even relate you ask??
Well, by law Congress has 30 legislative days to review all laws signed by the DC Mayor (Adrian Fenty – in case you’re thinking it’s still “cracked-out” Mayor Marion Berry). If the Capitol shuts down, so does the clock that counts down the 30 days.
What this means is that gay marriage may not become law until mid-March. Fortunately, even with all the talk about the devastating defeat the Democrats had in the Senate in Massachusetts, we still have 59 votes and a much larger margin in the House. Gay marriage hasn’t been legal or recognized in the 233 years we’ve been a country, so what’s another week or two…right?!