Today is the day my beloved husband Michael Knaapen and I said "I do" and began our marriage journey together.
The photo to the right is a picture from our wedding on March 22, 2006, in Toronto, Ontario. One of our witnesses snapped it just after we were pronounced husband and husband. I had just turned 21 and Michael was only 19. As you can probably tell from Michael's red face, we were so overcome with emotion - and gratitude for being able to and formally pledge our lives to one another - that we sobbed through pretty much the entire wedding ceremony.
Anniversaries are occasions for celebration and reflection, and I've been doing a lot of both today. It's hard for me to believe that Michael and I have already been married for seven years. They really do fly by, don't they? But it really has been that long, and we really have come a long way in our lives, in our marriage, and in the struggle for marriage equality.
It's hard to imagine, but in 2006 - just seven years ago - the only U.S. state that allowed couples like us to legally marry was Massachusetts. But thanks to a certain Mitt Romney, who resurrected an old, previously unenforced law barring nonresidents from getting married specifically in order to prevent the state from becoming what he called "the Las Vegas of gay marriage," we literally had to leave the country in order to legally marry the person we love.
And of course, our legal Canadian marriage was unrecognized when we returned to our then-home in Wisconsin; citizens of that state made doubly sure of that when they passed a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment less than eight months after we said "I do." The newlywed glow had barely even worn off, and it felt like a punch in the stomach.
Fast forward to 2013, and same-sex couples can wed in nine states (and counting) plus D.C. The president of the United States, one of our two major political parties, a number of brave Republicans, and many faith traditions, businesses and major corporations, medical and mental health organizations, groups working for civil rights for gender, racial, and religious minorities, labor unions, and a clear majority of the American people - including over 80 percent of my generation - believe all loving couples deserve the freedom to marry. And in just four days, for the first time in history, the Supreme Court will consider equal marriage.
It's a great time to be alive and a thrilling time to be working for justice and equality. And while many courageous people had already joined that fight long before we were born, for Michael and me, our work began seven years ago, on this day, in this moment.
Michael, you inspire me in more ways than I can describe, and the love we share is the source of, the energy behind, and the reason why I fight for equality. Being married to you is the most fulfilling, happy, and profound journey of my entire life. That day, today, and every day, I love you most and best of all.
Happy anniversary, Michael. Here's to the past seven years and the next seven times seven.
Cross-posted at johnmbecker.com.