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

At left and below: Our wedding party, which was divided between femmes and butches instead of boys and girls so everyone could choose which team suited them best

After 16 years together, we had lived in five different states, had four committment ceremonies, and one of us had lived in two different genders (well, one gender and two different gender presentations might be more accurate). So I was confident that this would be our last wedding ceremony, and I did it big.

I wore a knockoff Monique Lhuillier dress, we had 10 bridesmaids and groomsmen, our best man and maid of honor from our 1996 wedding flew down to serve in the same capacity, and the reception featured a five-tier wedding cake (the cake toppers depicted a black man and a white woman, neither of which we are), retro sodas, and colors inspired by Wham! because we’re just that old and into the ’80s.

The least we could do to make sure we were working with people from cake designers to stationery printers who also worked with LGBT couples. Jake’s family is Catholic, so we looked for a priest who would marry us, but with the caveat that he would also marry same-sex couples. We found a priest, by the way, in the White Robed Monks order who welcomed same-sex couples. His readings were lovely, universal, and pleased my in-laws.

The ceremony was in an amphitheater overlooking Central Lake in Foster City, Calif., and nearly all of our family members were in attendance. My brother, sister, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew were all in the wedding party; my much younger brother walked me down the aisle. The aunt and stepmother who helped raise me both came, and Jake’s whole immediate family was there. Other relatives sent real gifts off our first-ever wedding registry, some family heirlooms they were now ready to pass down to us after this show of commitment.

Honestly, for us, a wedding changed everything. We suddenly had privileges we didn’t even know existed until that day. Sixteen years as a lesbian couple hadn’t prepared us for how seriously people react to a real, legal wedding. The types of privileges we got — including the tiny ones that simply make life easier — are too numerous to list here, but ones that we know we utilize every single day.

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