BY Charlene Strong

October 22 2009 12:20 PM ET

“Does it feel any different ... being married, that is?”
 
It had only been 45 minutes since we’d said “I do,” and Keith and I were hit with the first real question of our married life. We looked at each other, paused a moment, and then both answered “Yes.”
 
I can’t really explain it, but there was something different, and there still is. There was a feeling of permanence that seemed to color the two of us more so than before. It was a very profound experience to stand up in front of friends, family, and, in our case, the state of Connecticut, and declare to love, honor, and take care of each other for the rest of our lives. For us as gay men, it was particularly poignant, as it wasn’t easy getting there, figuratively or literally.
 
Our flight took off from sunny Fort Lauderdale, bound for New York City. From there we’d spend the night with two close friends and catch a train from Grand Central Station to Westport, Conn., about an hour outside of the city. Longtime home to Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, it seemed like the perfect place to cement our lifelong union.
 
CHARLES PEREZ KEITH RINEHARD WEDDING STATION X560 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COM
 
Our wedding officiant picked us up at the train station outside of Westport, in south Norwalk. A ball of energy and efficiency, Mary Pugh sang the praises of her home state all the way into town. She told us that, unbeknownst to her until a fellow justice of the peace informed her, she’d performed more same-sex unions than anyone else in the state of Connecticut. She seemed to be pretty proud of that. She went on to tell us that he (her colleague) said he preferred performing same-sex ceremonies because “when they get married it’s something the really want!” She enjoyed sharing that with us as well.











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