Op-ed: Why Gavin Newsom Is as Much a Gay Rights Hero as Harvey Milk

If you live in California and plan to marry now, you owe him a heap of thanks for paving the way.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

June 27 2013 9:26 AM ET

Scenes from a California marriage: The one legal wedding we've had in Foster City.

I’ve had five weddings, two wives, one husband (but only two spouses — figure that one out), one legal marriage, three domestic-partnership certificates, and one ex-wife. I know, just add a rabbi and a little person and it sounds like one of those offensive jokes from a beginner comic at one of those tragically funny open mike nights.

Let me back up. I fell in love with a girl at 18. We moved in together immediately, because even though I didn’t admit it yet, I was already a U-Haul Lesbian. Soon we considered ourselves as committed and loving as any straight couple, and we fought ferverently for our rights to have our relationships recognized — as a domestic partnership. We had no idea marriage was an option. At the time, domestic partnership, a seperate and not quite equal option, was the best of what was possible (and in many states it still is).

Tina and I never married. I never dreamed of weddings anyway. No white dresses, flower girls, Sappho poetry as readings. For the four years we were together, our parents never met and none of them recognized our relationship as a marriage, but we did. Sort of. Once we were out we became paragons of the community. They called us young leaders and role models because of our "long-term" relationship (which lasted four years). We felt like we knew everything (as young people often do) and gave advice to other young people, especially teenagers about coming out, being an activist, and having a healthy relationship. Though we have called each other "my ex-wife" for almost two decades now, while married we never really used that word because we really didn't think gay people got married.

Tina and I broke up, and I fell in love with another woman and moved in immediately. We drove to West Hollywood, then the only place that offered domestic partnerships. Even though we didn’t live there and the rights it granted wouldn’t actually extend to us, we were thrilled. We held a private ceremony, just us and the dog, and later went to a carnival where we posed beneath a “Just Married” sign. It seemed like an amazing day, in part because of this certificate that proved our committment.

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