11 Reasons My Florida Gay Marriage Was Better Than Your Traditional Marriage

Franky and I got married ...

John, Zachary, Franky

... and I HAD to write about it.

As many people know, on January 6 of this year, Florida became the 36th state to allow same-sex couples to legally marry. My partner Franky and I were ready: In eight years, we bought a house together; we’ve let our finances become intertwined (*COU-hepaysforeverything-OUGH!* oh, ‘scuse me. I must have had someth... anyway); and we’ve been raising a child together for the last four years.

Now usually people dream of weddings with beautiful flowers, and well thought-out ceremonies where people make toasts and walk in the room in the perfect way while the sun reflects off golden tan skin while the man person and the man woman other person gaze into each other’s eyes lovingly.

Our wedding was not this traditional kind. Ours was the marriage-equality-damn-we-can-get-married-drop-everything-let’s-go kind… and it was so much BETTER than that other stuff, and here’s why:

11. There was zero planning

Weddings typically take years of planning and organizing and scrutinizing over every last detail. What kind of glass wear will we use? Where will everybody sit? What gorgeously romantic exquisite elegant matrimonial ceremonial traditional spiritual location shall we chooseth?

Nope. Not us. Facebook invite: Meet us at the courthouse in three days, b*tches! We’re getting hitched! Done and done. Even the father who married us just sort of appeared outside.

10. We didn't have to go it alone

Most marriages can be really frightening, stressful, and lonely when it’s just you and your significant other taking the plunge. There's so much to think about, like what if we’re not ready? What if s/he’s not the one? This marriage is just the two of us. No one else.

Unless of course you’re getting married with every committed gay relationship in the entire state! If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you? Yes! Of course you would! Because, as I told my mom once, there’s probably a really good reason if everyone is doing it. Maybe the bridge is over a chocolate river? Maybe the bridge is only a foot high and on the way somewhere important? The point is, it’s more reassuring when you are surrounded by so many damn people you’re required to take a number out of those number roll machines you see at the deli counter. Literally, we did. Ours was A26.

9. It was way more important than any ole traditional marriage

As a small child I remember my mother always saying, “Now John, if you want your marriage to feel really special, have it one minute after it’s legal in your state.” I held on to that motherly wisdom and I’m glad I did. Yes, I could have gone traditional, worn the dress, done my hair up in a $2000 bun, but was that going to get me in gay magazines across the country? No. No it wasn’t. My mother knew that instinctively.

8. We could bring our kid

The thing that’s so messed up about traditional marriage is it’s so out of order. How are you supposed to have your kids at your wedding if you haven’t even had them yet? Thankfully, as gay people, we were given the right to raise kids long before we were given the right to be an actual family in the eyes of the state. Thank goodness, because it wouldn’t have been the same without our little Zachary.

7. It was one-zillionth the cost

The dress, the dreamy location, the fancy hors d'oeuvre, and the man playing the piano, and the hand-made encrusted encrypted engraved metal napkin holders all add up. It takes loans and savings and in-laws and sometimes years and years to pay off this beautiful day.

Our wedding? Rings, new outfit, bam, done.

6. The hot guys in cop uniforms were NOT strippers

Actual Cop

They were actual cops ... Wait, none of them stripped; that’s totally a downside. Never mind.

5. It was at midnight

Let’s face it, nobody would ever choose to get married at 12:01am on a frickin’ Tuesday. Gay people work too, y’know. But think about it, how rebelliously cool is THAT? Like, who gets married in the middle of the freakin' NIGHT?

That’s right. We do. Maybe it’s the teenager in me, but having a Starbucks Grande dark roast coffee at 8pm without ANY guilt was a tiny private marriage in and of itself. Yeah, that’s right; I married that cup of coffee. Hmm, on second thought, that’s probably not so much the teenager as it is the old lady in me.

4. It was in a government office building

This might not seem like an advantage necessarily, but you have to think about things that are cool because of their juxtaposition. Like, when that town in Washington erected that noble monument of Kurt Cobain. Sure, towns erect monuments, and sure, Kurt Cobain was an important part of history for many people…but WHAAAT? It was cool like that.

We were escorted in the usual way. We went from the front door metal detectors, up to the third floor to fetch our numbers, then to this huge jury duty room with theater seating and huge TVs and a podium. After announcements were made, numbers were called (think bingo night), we were shuffled down the matrimonial stairwell to a room that I dubbed “Where the DMV and Gay Pride collide.” It was so exciting that 300 or so gay people, a zillion news reporters, and a handful of cheery, lighthearted police officers and government workers had partied up this otherwise dark, closed-for-business building downtown. Even coffee, sparkling cider, and a bunch of beautiful wedding cakes were brought in by Stork’s Bakery, which is a local café in Fort Lauderdale. The whole thing was actually pretty organized too.

3. The elected county clerk and county sheriff were there

Were the elected county clerk and county sheriff at your traditional wedding? Nope? Nope. I didn’t think so. Awe, don’t cry about it, your mascara will run.

2. We’ll share our anniversary with our closest friends

And several thousand others in Florida. So basically, if you ever hear, say, a new coworker tell your office buddy that his wedding anniversary is January 6, you can safely assume that he’s gay and from Florida. If YOUR wedding anniversary is January 6, you are most likely gay and from Florida. If your parents were wed January 6, they are now gay and from Florida.

Lori, KJ, Zachary, Franky, and John

In all seriousness, though, we did get to get married together with two women who mean the world to my partner, my son and me. Lori and KJ, who got married together with us, have been a huge, stable and shiny part of our lives for a good while. Our son knows and loves them about as much as he loves us. These girls know how to instill values, keep him safe, buy adorable toddler clothes, and just love like no other, and we are so lucky to have shared such a special day with them. Zachary will have a better grasp of the meaning of marriage with them having been with us.

1. Love

We love each other. That doesn’t actually make our marriage better than anyone else’s, and the truth is that of course it’s not, but the number one reason it’s so great is not just the love we have for each other but the love we receive from family and friends. That’s it.

See, neither of us really thought much about marriage, never dreamt it would happen. As a gay person, you spend your childhood trying to hide inside yourself, and your young adulthood trying to find yourself again, and then explain yourself to everyone else. Marriage? Kids? That was backburner. Gay people have been ridiculed, mocked, beaten; their bodies left naked and dead, tied to chain-linked fences because of who they were. Many, many, many gay people missed this opportunity, and many people still live in so much fear.

Not my family. Not anymore.

Throughout Zachary’s life he’s never knew that we were all supposed to have the same last name. His face lit up like I’d given him a giant Jawbreaker when I told him his daddies would now have his last name. He couldn’t believe it.

The Duffy-Sweeneys aren’t just equal; we are completely surrounded by gratitude, joy, inspiration, dreams and love. If you are reading this, you are likely a giant part of that love. We got cards, gifts, a fruit basket not 24 hours after we mentioned it, calls and texts from family and friends, so much Facebook activity from our pictures and posts that my eyes actually sting from reading so many comments. It’s insane. We go outside and people congratulate us and we say thank you, but that’s just a speck of the gratitude we feel. Really, ours was just another marriage in an ocean of marriages.

Yet it was so much more. People are much more grateful for the things they have to fight for. Maybe that’s why it feels so much more special? We had to fight for this marriage. Well, the fight’s over, bam, done and done.

Equality = Love.

And to anyone who reads this marriage lovey crap and wants to barf, grab a bag bitch, all that bitter is gonna sting coming up. Just kidding, I’ve been there. I’ll probably read this in a year and need to borrow your bag. Anyway, love. Love is the answer. < Barf>

(all photos courtesy Peter Cross - Queerty.com except the one I got from Michael Solney's Facebook page)

Posted by John Duffy

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