This last Sunday the weddings began. And while I don’t think it will be long before the exuberance of this historic moment fades, for now I am still feeling wonderfully swamped by stories of joy and justice that have come from more than a week of marriage equality in the state of Washington. So let me offer one more post before moving on.
First I will take you to the narthex of our own church. It is Sunday morning after worship, and we have announced that while we do not have any weddings scheduled here on this historic day, we do have wedding cakes. The cakes are to celebrate the many couples in our church who, although they have not the option of being “lawfully wedded” until now, have taken vows, made life commitments to one another, raised families, and lived together in holy matrimony.
By the time I get to the lounge where the cakes are displayed, a group of young children have surrounded one of the cakes. They know immediately what it is.
“Who’s getting married?” one of them asks. We adults all look at each other, wondering for a moment about how to answer. Eyes turn to me. I am the pastor, after all. Not sure what I will say, I plunge in.
“Have any of you heard about the new law in our state about marriage equality?”
A few kids say they have.
“Well, today is the first day of that new law. So this cake is for gay and lesbian couples, who have not been able to marry until today.”
After a moment of silent reflection, one child asks the most important question: “Does everyone get some?”
We all laugh. “Yes,” I say, “Everyone can have a piece of cake.” And so the cutting begins, and the cake is distributed, first to the children and then to everyone else, until it runs out. And it turns out the cake does run out. I do not get a piece of it. But that was just fine. I love it that so many folks lined up to celebrate. I love it that my congregation has so thoroughly embraced the justice journey of marriage equality that children gathered around a cake have no bigger question than whether or not they get a piece.
It is now Sunday night, and as I am eating dinner I get a text from a member of the congregation: “Watching two same sex marriages at the Seattle men’s chorus concert. What a great day for Washington.” Their family is in the middle of the weddings for Jane Lightly and Pete-e Peterson, as well as Neil Hoyt and Donald Jenny, conducted by retired judge Ann Levenson just before intermission. Together those couples have a total of 59 years of commitment. I wish I could have been there.
“Jealous,” I text back. And early the next morning I get to watch that wedding myself when the twenty minute ceremony was posted on Youtube. One of the things I love about it was how many times the ceremony was interrupted by standing ovations from the audience of about 2,000 folks, who hung on every word the judge said. “By the authority vested in me by the state of Washington . . . ” was a show stopper.
On Wednesday morning I go with some others from my congregation to a fundraising breakfast for Equal Rights Washington. Their theme is “Toasting Equality,” and there, with Gov. Christine Gregoire, Governor-elect Jay Inslee, and a host of individuals and groups who have been working on human rights for LGBTQ nfolks in our state for decades, we do celebrate with toast after toast. Almost every time someone is introduced, or says something about this moment, we all jump to our feet clapping and cheering. And every time, even after we have given many, many such standing ovations, I am happy to stand again. This just doesn’t seem to be a time to remain seated.
On Thursday morning, after my chores and before I head in to work, I open the little box of cereal from the “Toasting Equality” breakfast. It is a wonderfully quiet moment for my own reflection. Before picking up my spoon, though, I pick up my camera and take a picture. Then I send out a Facebook message: “Enjoying my Marriage Equality cocoa krispies. . . Turns out equality tastes great- and chocolaty too.”
I know there is still much work to be done in moving human rights forward for LGBTQ folks. I think of couples in other states who still cannot get a license, or even in places in our state, cannot be open about their love. I think of the marriage equality cases that our supreme court will be hearing this year, and what their rulings in those cases might mean. I think about GLBTQ folks in this country and around the world, who live in places where to express their love would be to risk their lives.
But today, I think I will bake a cake of my own. Because as I continue to reflect on last Sunday, and on this week of joy, I am even more deeply aware of that question a child asked: “Does everybody get some?” Yes, I get to answer. In this state, today, everyone does.