(This story is a continuation from page 3 of our November 2014 newsletter)
by Walker Newton Leonard (son/step son of Dan and Elizabeth)
I have a story I would like to tell. It is a story of one of the most beautiful moments in time I’ve experienced, and I was lucky enough to be a part of today. I want to tell this because I know that if it touched me, it can touch others too. So, if you’re up for it, here it goes.
As many of you may know, gay marriage was legalized in Minnesota this most recent Spring, only 6 months after nearly being constitutionally banned. This month is the first that the bill has effected, and now marriage is legal between every human being and any other human being, just the way it should be.
Today, Jim Dryden and Wayne Groff, two men I have known my entire life, reached the moment they’d awaited for 32 years, the date of their legally recognized wedding. I’ve known them since I had no understanding of sexuality or sexual preference, and them, along with their family and friends, were always so warm and giving. I felt blessed to be a part of what was one of the first gay marriages to take place in Minnesota, let alone between two of the kindest people I’ve known.
My dad who has DJ’d for places like The Tradewinds Hotel in Fremantle has provided the music for the night, and was, along with his girlfriend of about 15 years whom I’ve been used to calling my “pretty much step mom”, the legal witness who signed the documents (legal hoops) that made the official wedding officially official. He sat to the left of the ceremony, and opened the whole deal with a song he wrote for one of my Aunt’s weddings, called “Say I Do.” It’s an instrumental piece that, when it’s played, rings of all the joyous occasions its since narrated. I was taking pictures in the front row, and everything was beautiful.
The flower girls spread their flower pedals across the green grass at the now official couple’s new home, unmistakably theirs in its décor and feel. In front of the Koi pond, they said their vows and exchanged rings, then they kissed, and the moment had arrived. You could feel the energy from every person (around 180 in attendance, including artists, musicians, politicians, and of course friends and family) on the same plane. There was no patronizing, no condescendence, no thoughts of being any better than anybody else. I was already choking back tears (not unusual for me, what a cry baby).
Now this is where you’d expect the story to end, or at least drift into a night of dancing and drinking and conversing with those people you see every now and then. But that was still a bit in the distance. Kyle, the Justice of Peace, as I believe is the title, who read the vows, kept speaking. “There are some couples at this wedding that have put off their own marriage until their dear friends could have the same rights as themselves. Is there anyone here who has waited?”
I had always known my Dad and Elizabeth weren’t going to marry until this level of equality had been reached, and of course they raised their hands, along with a few other strong couples further back in the crowd. The feeling that you can have something that your best friends can’t, because they are labeled a certain way by some controlling people with narrow-minded or restrictive perspectives, I believe would have brought not necessarily a sense of guilt, but if nothing else a greater sorrow for those who lack equal opportunity. My dad and Elizabeth rose, and I began to wonder what they were going to do. I thought maybe my dad would propose, or announce their wedding to the crowd, something like this.
“Would you like to be married today?” Kyle asked with a proud smile. I let out the biggest, most exaggerated gasp possible and instantly the tears flowed down my cheeks. I was yanked up there, hysterically in shock, still not believing that what I was seeing was real. Then they read the same vows, in the same order, word for word the same as the couple before them, who 30 days ago would not have even been given the opportunity to see this moment that grabbed every single one of us in the crowd by the heart and yanked it to the surface, showing us undeniably the love that exists inside EVERY ONE OF US! By the time they kissed, every one of us in front of the crowd were in tears of deep joy.
My dad and Elizabeth didn’t want to make a big deal of their wedding. They knew for a long time that the day of their legal union would come, but had envisioned a small group of just the two couples in a nice, quaint setting where things could go simply and truly. Then Wayne had a dream.
A dream that changed all our lives forever. He dreamt that they marry at the same day, the same time, the same place. That would be the purest display of why gay marriage and love not SHOULD be, but IS being increasingly accepted across the world in nearly all social circles. We are all equals, all of our emotions are the same, and all of us experience trials and tribulations that leave us feeling helpless, worthless, or not as good as everybody else. We also all share the same love, we love people, we love experiences, we love places. We love.
My dad and step mom were married today, without anyone knowing beforehand, in what slowly became the most beautiful gathering of all kinds of beautiful people I can remember.
This reminds me never to pass up a single moment, because you NEVER know what is going to happen and when your life could change forever.
Peace, love, understanding, and compassion to you all.