I think I had my last chance to be in a wedding party.
Thanks heavens I’m going out on a high note.
I went through a period for a couple of years where it seemed like everyone I knew was getting matched or hatched. It was gift registries and strappy shoes for months at a time for a while there.
I think I bookended that chapter recently at the wedding of a dear friend whose good heart and kind spirit finally found its match. The vows the couple wrote were honest, direct and full of evidence that even if it takes a little while for love to come to you, the right person makes it worth the wait.
It was nice that my girls were able to be there and I am pleased to report they did well and used all of the bubbles handed out as favors at their table — and several others.
Honestly, they were bored until it was time for the cake.
Me, I cried. Sorry to fit the stereotype, but weddings always make me cry.
For the spiritual among us, weddings are a manifestation of God’s wish for us not to walk alone in this world, and a call to be there for our spouse as He is there for us. In sickness and in health.
In a world where the daily drumbeat of headlines is enough to make you believe the natural state of man is as Thomas Hobbes described — nasty, brutish and short — weddings are a sign of our hope for more.
These ceremonies highlight a truth that is universal among faiths traditions — that the light is better than the darkness, that love is what we use to call out to the universe and announce our presence as sentient beings, that being together is stronger than being separate.
Which is why all of those people who think that wedding doesn’t count because there were two grooms are wrong.
The tolerance train has left the station on marriage equality, folks. It is coming for Florida, just as sure as the sun rose this morning. No matter what Attorney General Pam Bondi says about her duty to mount “the best defense of our voters’ policy preferences.”
Segregation was defended the same way. States’ rights, don’t you know. That’s the way folks around here like it.
Except not all the folks around here like it that way.
Unless you gave your father-in-law some livestock and a dowry for your wife — or unless you plan to set aside the same to give the lucky person who wants to marry your daughter — you’ve already participated in changing the definition of marriage.
If you are worried about the degradation of the institution of marriage, we straight folks are the ones who drove the divorce rate up to 50 percent.
If organized religion isn’t your thing, think of it in this Libertarian way: Marriage is a contract. If you think a particular marriage is a bad contract, don’t enter into it. But if someone else thinks it’s a good deal, they should be able to sign on the dotted line.
If you are a numbers geek, consider this: Gen Y and their contemporaries overwhelmingly support marriage equality. As they have families, chances are they will instill the same values in their children. The demographics mean it is only a matter of time before those 30 states that allow same-sex unions become 40, and 50.
Or ruminate on this. Last year the City of Pensacola created a domestic partnership registry. It affords committed couples some basic protections, including emergency notification, hospital visitation, medical decision-making should someone’s partner become incapacitated, the right to make funeral arrangements and the right to participate in a dependent’s education.
It may interest Bondi to know that when Pensacola created that registry, its citizens joined 55 percent of Florida residents who live in municipalities that offer domestic partner registries.
That list includes: Volusia County, Sarasota County, Orange County, Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami Dade County, Pinellas County, Leon County, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tavares, Tampa, Gainesville, Orlando, Key West, Gulfport, North Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables and Northport.
Looks like the majority is moving faster than Bondi thinks.
Shannon Nickinson is a columnist who lives in Pensacola. Follow her at twitter.com/snickinson. Column courtesy of Context Florida.