The Day I Married my Husband in Utah, Yes, That Utah

Sunday, December 22, 2013 35 Permalink 0

For the first time in my life, I can use the word husband to define the nature and status of my relationship with Michael.

Michael is my husband. We were legally married in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, December 20, 2013. Michael proposed to me in July while we were in Japan and since then we have been making wedding plans. We planned (and still plan!) to have a big celebration in Salt Lake, but we did not think that we would actually be legally married in Salt Lake.

Earlier this year our friends Derek and Moudi along with two other couples filed a lawsuit in Utah challenging the legality of Amendment 3, Utah’s version of Prop 8. Thanks to them, the other plaintiffs, and their lawyers, the case went to court and on Friday U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby declared Amendment 3 unconstitutional. The day started as any normal Friday: Michael and I woke up, I answered emails, I did a little Christmas shopping, then took the train to my tea shop to work. At 1:43 p.m. our attorney friend called and said that Amendment 3 had been struck down by Judge Shelby and that if we were serious about getting married, to rush to the County Clerk’s office.

After we got the call from our friend, Michael and I looked at each other, stopped everything we were doing and jumped in the car.

In a nutshell this is what happened when we got to the County Clerk’s office.

Michael got out of the car and ran across lanes of traffic to get in line while we were waiting at a red light. We didn’t know how much time we actually had before the state would intervene to put a stop to our right to marry. Time was of the essence and we felt it slipping. I finally parked and ran to the office where the clerks had not even heard the news. Not three minutes after we got there the Salt Lake County District Attorney, Sim Gill, walked in.

“This is it,” I thought. “They are here to stop us and any other couple who comes here today.” He knew why we were there but asked, “Are you here to get married?” to which we answered, “Yes we are.”

Gill pulled some of the clerks aside and told us to “hang tight for about 20 minutes.” Michael and I nervously paced but the electricity in the room was building. There were a handful of people there, some to get passports, a different young straight couple to get their marriage license, and everyone just beamed that we were there to be married. Smiles, cheers, pictures, high fives. My heart raced.

Meanwhile, I kept tweeting each new development.

The line was short, in fact we were second in line after the people who were there for a passport. A woman called us to the counter and we presented her the application and our IDs.

She sighed and in a kind whisper told us, “There is nothing more I want to do than to issue this license, but the state forbids me to.”

“No,” Michael said. “Amendment 3 has been struck down. You can.” I showed her the email of the ruling.

She gasped when she realized we were not there for civil disobedience and that we could be married in Utah. She said, “Wait just one moment. I need to speak to someone.”

Two minutes passed and she came back with a second woman who I believe had just left a meeting with the DA.

“We’ve been told we may proceed,” she told us.

This was Michael’s reaction.

reaction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She signed the form and then we paid the fee. Wany filling out the form.

“What’s your name?” I asked her. She had tears in her eyes. “My name is Wany. I am so happy…” she paused and wiped a tear from her eye, “…I am so happy that I can do this for you.”

By this time Bob Henline, a reporter from Q Salt Lake, arrived to cover the developing story. We had texted some friends and they were rushing over to be with us. Michael’s cousin Blake arrived first.

Wany asked who was going to marry us and to be honest, the answer was no one. We didn’t have time to plan for that. Bob stepped up and said he had credentials and could marry us if we needed him to. The situation was that we now had an official marriage license valid for 30 days unless the State put a stay on Judge Shelby’s ruling. We didn’t know if that was moments away from happening so 30 days meant nothing. We had to be married by someone qualified to do so immediately.

“I can do it” Wany said. “Please let me do this for you.”

Michael and I, Blake, and all our new friends from the office moved into an open room where Wany began signing papers.

Then someone came and pulled her away. We waited, uncertain of what was happening.

waiting after wany got pulled away

Minutes later Wany returned and informed us that the DA had given instructions that she could only issue licenses not perform the ceremony. We could feel the cold fingers of the state government reaching in to strangle us so Bob immediately signed papers, Michael and I expressed our love and commitment to each other, we kissed, put our engagement rings back on, and we were married.

bob

selfie

Fox 13 News arrived right as we were signing papers as did some other friends. When we walked out of the room we saw other news media eager to talk to us. Then a handful of other couples showed up because by now word was out and the quiet office that we had walked into was growing loud and crowded.

The rest of the day is a blur but seeing pictures now I wish I wore a cuter shirt because I was dressed in my frumpiest work clothes, not expecting anything else except going to work at my tea shop and maybe going out to dinner.

Instead, Michael and I got married. So everyone who continues to use the scare quotes around the word married needs to knock it the hell off. Michael and I are not “married” we are in fact married. Legally. In Utah.

 

 

35 Comments
  • Andrew Joseph Pegoda
    December 22, 2013

    Incredible!! So happy for both of you, my friend. All of your LGBT brothers and sisters thank you for being such a brave pioneer.

  • Jim Reeves
    December 22, 2013

    Congrats to you both! Best wishes from sunny California.

  • Miguel
    December 22, 2013

    You two are my heroes!!
    I’ve cheered, cried and cheered more as I’ve seen your trajectory online–many congratulations!
    Hugs,Miguel

  • Christy Sadira
    December 22, 2013

    I got chills reading your minute by minute first-hand account. Such an exciting day! I shed many happy tears Friday on behalf of all my wonderful LGBT friends. Much love to you and Michael. Wishing you a most beautiful life together. xo

  • Afknick
    December 22, 2013

    Thank you so much for sharing such a personal experience with so many. You’ve touched our lives in ways we can never explain, and I’m so grateful for it. Congratulations!!

  • Sheryl Ginsberg
    December 22, 2013

    Thank you for posting this. I had tears of joy in my eyes as I read it. I’m going to go find that adorable Wany and give her a big fat hug! Love love love!!!

  • Joseph W. Czarnota
    December 22, 2013

    I sit here teary eyed after reading your beautiful story. The tears are of sadness and joy. The tears that roll sadly down my cheek do so because of the unnecessary fight we must endure to have our civil rights bestowed upon us. Why does this have to be a battle state by state? This is ONE NATION and the civil liberties of all people should be equal. Our own Forefathers said so and documented it! Yet many of those who portray themselves as leaders of our country do not lead this country forward. They are trying to hold us back as they did those forced here from Africa. I understand the difference of the brutality faced among millions of slaves, and I am not comparing the inhumane treatment our fellow mankind suffered to the fight we endure. But we are being enslaved nonetheless. It’s sad that you had to play “Beat the Clock” to become legally wed to the person, who happened to be a man, in the United States of America. I’m still waiting for that part of, “with liberty and justice for all” to actually mean something.

    The other tears are for nothing less than my complete happiness for you and Michael. I am encouraged by your determination, dedication and drive. I am ecstatic that this was able to happen to, and for you (both). If it can happen in Utah it can happen anywhere! It was enlightening to hear that Wany was teary eyed herself. Some people get it and hopefully that continues to rub off on others and one day this will just be a sad piece of history. The piece of history that moves me to more happy tears is Michael’s emotional expression. I can literally feel it!

  • Sean
    December 22, 2013

    Love it!

    Very happy for you both, and everyone else who was able to get married on Friday!

  • coreynjoey
    December 22, 2013

    Congratulations to you both! We just celebrated our one year (legal) anniversary in Washington State!

  • Kris Cantil
    December 22, 2013

    I’m thrilled for you!

  • Jann Schott
    December 22, 2013

    Congratulations to you and your husband. Your mom (I know her via CTMH) bragged about how happy she is for you!!

    I just had to laugh at: “I was dressed in my frumpiest dress clothes.” I can *SO* identify with that comment when at around 12:30 on 12/31/07 I decided to say “YES” and was wearing a lime green t-shirt and raggedy jeans. By the miracle of God, I was married that same day–for tax purposes ONLY since our chapel wedding was scheduled for June 09, 2008. Hubby and I did marry that day as well, and we celebrate BOTH anniversaries. I suggest you do the same, because it’s just twice as fun each year.

    Please read and share with your husband, “The Art of Marriage” http://www.njwedding.com/articles/artofmarriage_peterson_short.cfm The judge read to Erik and me at our superior court wedding in 2007. I asked the chaplain to read it at our chapel wedding as well. It’s such great advice for those who just got married.

    May God bless you both as you venture into a new life of happy memories!

  • Amber Alvarez
    December 22, 2013

    I bawled reading this.. I’m so thankful for this stranger, Wany, willing to marry you on the spot, even if she wasn’t allowed to. I’m glad that she works there. It gives me lots of hope for other couples on their way to the alter. I’m so glad you love this boy that I love too. I’m so thrilled he gets to call you husband on the exact same terms as everyone else. Congratulations and so much love, you’re in my thoughts and a brilliant light in my Christmas season, even all the way from New York.

  • Meg Abhau
    December 22, 2013

    Tears again!! Thank you for letting us all join you on this amazing day. I LOVE you guys!

  • Marni Zollinger
    December 22, 2013

    I could not be happier for you. Thank you for writing it up for us to “be there” with you.

  • Jamie Wilcox
    December 22, 2013

    It has been so fun getting to know you and Michael since February when Chris took me to one of your first tea classes. You are both such wonderful men individually, and together you are (obviously) unstoppable.

    I grew up Mormon in Sandy, Utah. I had questions about “my” religion from a young age, most of them about the way I felt “we” excluded those around us who were not Mormon. Too many things have happened in my life for me to respect the church, and I still feel a great deal of anger. But I will always be grateful for growing up where and when I did, because of the boy next door who changed my life.

    Despite my struggles with the church, I grew up a good Mormon girl and Ryan had a blue mo hawk and smoked on the side of his house. But when we got older and just before he moved to L.A. to become a famous actor and writer, we became more than neighbors, we became friends, then best friends, and he has had more influence on my life than anyone else. Ryan loved his family more than anything else. He was hilarious and the most true, honest and loyal friend anyone could ask for. He pushed me to be a better person and to follow my dreams. Which was so much easier to do because he led by example.

    Ryan died following one of his dreams on February 27th, 2009 in a freak plane crash in L.A. During our last phone conversation, just a few days before his death, we talked like we had hundreds of times before about the state’s (church’s) oppression of people in the LGBT community. But we also talked about what we knew to be true- that they didn’t speak for all Utahns, and that someday it would be possible for Ryan to marry someone he loved in the place he grew up.

    Friday was an emotional day for me. I was so happy when I heard the news! Thrilled when I got word that you and Michael were the first to obtain your marriage license and make it official!!! And I cried, a lot. Both tears of joy and tears of great sadness. I really wish Ryan were here to celebrate this historical and momentous victory. I really wish I could be his best woman and watch him marry the man of his dreams.

    Thank you Seth and Michael for being you. For fighting. For loving. For sharing. Seeing your happiness has made missing Ryan a little less painful.

    xo~ Jamie

  • Richard
    December 22, 2013

    Congratulations Seth and Michael. Again, you are leading the new generation. I am so PROUD of both of you.

  • Renee
    December 22, 2013

    My mother is Wany and I have to tell you that moment she got to be a part of was a total honor for her. After the clerks office closed, we (my mother, my sister, my boyfriend and I) went out. Wany told us, that aside from having her kids, this was one of the happiest days of her life. The outpouring of love and emotion there was like nothing else any of us had every seen. I can only imagine what it was like for you. You were both amazing in the interviews, especially considering it was all off the cuff. Congratulations to you both! I wish you many, many happy and wonderful years ahead.

  • Chad
    December 22, 2013

    Seth,
    I have been following your blog for years now. It was so awesome to me to see you in all the news articles and everything. It felt so much more real and personal to me, knowing of you from this blog. Congratulations to both you and Michael, I am so happy for you.

  • Oliver
    December 23, 2013

    I am SOOOOOO happy for you! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!

  • Juli
    December 23, 2013

    Thank you for sharing this Seth! Though I haven’t had the honor of meeting you yet, meeting Michael is something I will never forget. Knowing what he is like tells me much about you, the man he loves, and now calls his husband. Your story is romantic and so full of love. Really, my hope for true love is renewed! Gay or straight , what a blessing to find someone you race to the alter with! In your case literally. If some day you two decide to have children, be prepared, this is a story they will ask you to repeat over and over again. The day love won.

  • Layla
    December 23, 2013

    Oh my goodness! Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m bawling my eyes after reading your post. Sooo soo happy for you two and Utah!

  • Dave McGrath
    December 23, 2013

    Thank you. Your courage has made the world safer for my two gay sons. And… for the rest of us, too.

  • Lisa
    December 23, 2013

    I followed your story through mutual friends on Facebook and let me just say–I am THRILLED beyond belief for you both!! Congratulations!!! Much love and many blessings to you both!!! xo!

  • Gregory A. Clark
    December 23, 2013

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. May your joy together continue to grow.

  • Corey D Clawson
    December 23, 2013

    It was such a joy to hear this good news from across the country the other day as well as to read your beautiful account of such a special day. There was also something beautiful about seeing a student and scholar of history making it as well. Here’s to the wonderful life of Michael and Seth.

  • Taylor
    December 24, 2013

    I just absolutely love this story. I’m always a sucker for a happy story, but the accompanying pictures made it so real, and so human. When I got to the picture and text about your husband’s reaction to the issuance of your marriage license, I just freaking LOST it. Tears. From a grown man. My reaction even scared my cat, and I had to reassure him they were happy tears.

    Congratulations on your marriage (no quotes), and I hope you two have decades upon decades of a life together.

  • pat L
    December 24, 2013

    I am teary-eyed reading your story! You and Michael are forever a part of history! It’s very fitting you & Michael were the 1st couple to be married after Prop 3 was invalidated! God bless you both!

  • Sarah
    January 8, 2014

    Seth:

    I didn’t even realize you had moved to Utah until I saw you on the news (multiple times now!) I am so happy for you and your husband and wish for nothing but amazing things for you. I know we have lost touch over the years but I will always think of how much fun I had with you back in Arizona, between ditching Sunday School or you being my very first prom date. I hope you are doing well and again, I couldn’t be more happy for you and sincerely wish that you and your husband can always be husbands.

  • Heather
    January 28, 2014

    What a beautiful story! I am so happy for you guys. I wish you the best and hope that more people in Utah will begin to kind and accepting of you, your husband and other couples like you.

  • Eric
    February 25, 2014

    Awesome! My comment is a bit late, but… Congratulations! Also consider me a new reader.

    • J. Seth (I go by Seth) Anderson
      February 27, 2014

      Thank you, Eric!! I promise to post more often in the near future. Research for grad school sucks up all my times these days. :)

  • sandra
    March 4, 2014

    do you speak portuguese?

  • sandra
    March 4, 2014

    vc foi um missionario na bahia brasil?
    eu estou procurando o missionario que bateu à minha porta.por acaso é vc?
    ajude-me
    thanks

    • J. Seth (I go by Seth) Anderson
      March 8, 2014

      Unfortunately, that was not me. I went on my mission to Russia.

  • sandra
    March 4, 2014

    vc foi um missionario na bahia brasil?
    eu estou procurando o missionario que bateu à minha porta.por acaso é vc?
    ajude-me
    thanks

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