It’s been a big, emotional week for Florida. We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could share Miamians’ experiences in a unique, decidedly local way. So we asked our cofounder to write the first of what will be many first-person stories from Miamians about their lives here. We want to know and share your stories, too—about gay marriage, about any part of life here. Hit us up. And read on.
On Tuesday, I got married.
Andrea and I have been together for almost nine years. We’ve bought a couple homes and a couple cars together. We care for three wild but lovable dogs and a cranky 13-year-old Siamese cat. I do the cooking. She does the dishes. Our families love us, and we love them. We built a life together that resembled the lives of most other happily married couples, but the truth was, we weren’t married.
As legal victories for gay marriage swept across the country during the past few years, we were frequently asked whether we would marry. Our answer was always, “It’s not legal in Florida.” Miami is our home, and it was important to us that our marriage would be recognized here.
While challenges to Florida’s gay marriage ban wound through the courts, we talked for hours about whether we would marry if the ban was overturned. Much of our discussion was practical. We wanted assurances that we could be together in emergencies and clarity on property rights and inheritance without complex legal processes. We wanted to merge our lives together on paper as we live in reality.
From the state’s perspective, marriage is essentially a legal arrangement. But at human scale, I agree with religious institutions (many of which would prefer that I not be able to marry) that marriage is a much bigger proposition. Married people promise to love and support each other without knowing what’s ahead, for life. There is no amortization schedule, no back-out clause, no contingency plan. Marriage is an extreme, possibly even irrational, act of love and hope. We wrestled with whether we were ready, and agreed that we were.
When it became clear that the stay on gay marriages would be lifted, we called friends and family to tell them we’d be getting married on Tuesday, the very first day we could. We took an online pre-marital counseling course. (TLDR; Talk to your spouse. Use a budget. Violence is never OK.) We bought a couple of rings. My mama booked a flight to attend the ceremony. Our friends scrambled to help us find clothes and flowers and spread the word.
On Tuesday, Andrea, my mom, a few of our dear friends, and I entered a dingy downtown county office and asked to get married. The clerk reviewed our counseling certificate, put slashes beside “bride’s name” and “groom’s name” on our form and scribbled “spouse” above the lines. We signed, smiling. The clerk led us into “the wedding room” and we repeated our vows. And then, we were married. We kissed. We hugged our friends and family. And then we walked down the street and got a cafecito, like married Miamians do.
That night, dozens of friends and coworkers found a way to come celebrate with us at an amazing party that our friends pulled together on a few days’ notice. They wished us well, hugged us, toasted us, and told us how happy they were to support us as a couple. We left after midnight with cake in our bellies and love in our hearts.
I know there are many people who find our marriage unpalatable or even wrong. That’s OK. We don’t have to approve of each other, or even like each other. But, we live in a great nation, a nation that continually strives toward equality and fairness, no matter how unpopular those ideals may be in the moment. Marriage is both a legal privilege and an emotional one. Maybe we shouldn’t have had to ask the state for that kind of privilege, but we did. And it is certainly nice to have.
Today I have the great honor and the great responsibility of being married to the person I love most in the world. Andrea and I made a promise, to each other, to our families, to our friends, and to the State of Florida to love each other, care for each other, and to share our lives with each other, no matter what.
Making that promise is the biggest, most important thing I have ever done. I am proud to live in a country and a state where I have the opportunity to make that promise. I am grateful for the rights that promise affords my family. Above all, I am overjoyed to spend my life making good on it.
Rebekah Monson is cofounder of The New Tropic.