An interesting facet of LGBT life in America is how we can divide ourselves neatly into blocks of time. Our history has been marked by several milestones that have dramatically changed not only how society sees us, but have also acted as definitive markers that show when we lived.
Was a gay man called a "confirmed bachelor?" You can guess it was pre-Stonewall riots. Was he considered a brave activist for coming out and being openly gay or pushing for employment protections for government employees or teachers? He comes from the time of Harvey Milk.
Did he die young in the late 80s? AIDS crisis. Did he go to jail for being gay? He was having sex with men before the fall of the sodomy laws. Was he drummed out of the military because he's gay? He served during Don't Ask Don't Tell. What if he served without issue? He enlisted after the fall of DADT.
Now marriage equality has become the latest benchmark for being able to tell not only when someone lives, but, in many cases, where too.
As same-sex marriage has become legal in a patchwork of states, we've seen gay and lesbian couples flocking to the altar as soon as possible. Whether it's through legislative action or court rulings, we've seen the same thing play out in state after state. As soon as marriage is legal, couples are rushing to get hitched as quickly as possible.
When Massachusetts became the first state to enact marriage equality, the news was full of video and pictures of happy gay and lesbian couples getting married on the first day it was legal. As each state has legalized our relationships, you see the same phenomenon take place. Scads of happy couples rush to the altar as quickly as they can to validate their love in the eyes of the law.
Now lawsuits challenging state same-sex marriage bans have swept the nation and the result is the same. In states like Michigan, Arkansas, Utah, Indiana, and Wisconsin, couples made a mad dash for their local clerk's office as soon as the ruling was announced and before it could be put on hold for a higher court to review.
These couples' anniversaries match hundreds of other gay and lesbian couples in their state. If your anniversary is July 25, 26 or 27th, statistics say you're most likely from Indiana. March 22? Chances are high you live in Michigan.
As my partner and I prepare to get hitched, one of the questions we had to answer was when to actually tie the knot. Our anniversary, like many gay and lesbian couples, was up to us to decide. Was it the day we went on our first date? The day we formally agreed we were boyfriends? We picked our first date as the most important and have celebrated on that day each year.
But now we're getting married. Thankfully, we live in DC (which has had marriage equality for years), so we don't have to rush to beat a judge's gavel. How does that affect our anniversary? We've been together for 15 years already; changing to a different day seems ridiculous. We opted to make things official on our already established anniversary - October 6. Our 16th anniversary will also be our first.
Deciding our date is a luxury many of our friends and colleagues around the nation weren't able to afford this year. Thankfully, sending anniversary cards to them will be easy; they'll just go out in batches.