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How Long Have You Been Together?

We all mark time in different ways. Anniversaries and celebrations for this or that event, or a particular occasion. Relationships are often top of the list. Growing up, wedding anniversaries were often the major milestone I witnessed people took the most note of. There are even particular gifts designated for each year of wedded bliss.

Unfortunately, society was to erect roadblocks to marrying the person of my choice, at least for several years. Same-sex marriage was something done piecemeal for awhile, before finally being legalized nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. And let's not forget the precursor to same-sex marriage, civil unions. Those were also done haphazardly, on a state-by-state basis.

What the aforementioned scattershot approach has meant for same-sex couples across the nation is that there are often several different anniversary dates, and not borne of choice. Ashley & I alone have four anniversary dates (when we met, a commitment ceremony, civil union and then marriage). Honestly, it's all gotten a bit silly.

The range of halting and, at times, confusing progression toward marriage equality has made a difference in how same-sex couples count their time together as compared with their heterosexual counterparts. Until recently, gays and lesbians did not have the luxury of marrying whenever they chose to. It could not be part of the plan from the beginning of the relationship. This is why Ashley & I consider our anniversary to be when we first met and started dating, rather than a long-delayed legal recognition date.

Truthfully, I prefer such a marker. For everyone. Whenever a straight couple celebrates their wedding anniversary, I'm always wanting to know more about when they met. How did they meet? What day was that? How did it go? What was the path like from first date to wedding day? It would seem that to notate only one's wedding day would be to exclude the time that came before. That is just as much, if not more, important than the time that came after, surely?

So, yes, celebrate your wedding anniversary by all means. But know that it doesn't tell the full story and, for some of us, it is more of an arbitrary date than anything else, a day when those who make or judge the laws of this country finally got their act together. And, there are still people who would like to see such freedom rescinded. But they can't take away when we met.


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