Alex & Sean got married yesterday. As close to home as they could make it, and still be legal. They said their vows on a beautiful boat sailing around New York City. Cruising close to New Jersey, both grooms and many of the guests climbed up topside and gave New Jersey the finger. (Photo courtesy Jeff Tureaud, candidshotphoto.com)
Don’t get the wrong idea. Alex & Sean love New Jersey. So do I. So do their guests, especially the ones who live here, as Alex & Sean do. But they’re disappointed in their state, where their commitment to each other is recognized only as a thing apart, not quite what it is.
At Blue Jersey, we mostly report about marriage equality, not so much actual weddings. (Why is that?) But I was lucky enough to be invited to this wedding, and both the grooms are members of the Blue Jersey community. So for me, ME will forever be about Alex and Sean, who have loved each other for 13 years, and waited most of this time for the law to catch up to their own jubilant love.
I love weddings. And this one was spectacular. Vows topside on a yacht, under sunny skies the color of the water. Both grooms escorted by family to cheers from all of us as they came upstairs into the top deck sunlight. Marriage vows warm and personal. Guests gay and straight. Present, a same-sex couple just married in New York this week, at our table another getting hitched on Thursday. Even a proposal on board. “A rainbow tsunami of love,” one guest called it.
When Garden State Equality lobbied state senators in the runup to their crushing 2010 No vote, part of the case made was economic.
A few years ago, the Williams Institute at UCLA projected $248 million in spending in NJ if we gained marriage equality before surrounding states. Our friend Jack Bohrer did a great job illustrating how that might impact tourism in destination Atlantic City, still struggling with revenue loss and hotel layoffs. At this point, with NY and destination NYC getting the jump on us, we can only guess at the money flowing across the Hudson from family-minded Jersey couples. And those across the country spending their money there, instead of here. With our failure to come in early, we can only guess at the revenue sacrificed.
But something even bigger is lost. Yesterday, the proprietors of this lovely boat were so excited by their inaugural same-sex wedding, that all the servers were outfitted in different rainbow colors. Spirits were high; it meant something to be there.
There is so much goodwill for Love. And that’s what skittish legislators have missed, the goodwill good people have for happy families and loving couples. Even beyond the loss of wedding revenue, we lose living in a culture of greater acceptance of each other, in celebration of the happiness of our neighbors, in the infectious joy of people pledging forever to the one they love for the world to see.
So, here’s to the day New Jersey’s decision-makers catch up to her people. Here’s to the day we strengthen marriage itself by recognizing all our families. Here’s to the day when this most extraordinary day in a couple’s life can take place on our turf, or in our waters.
Here’s to Love. And here’s to Alex & Sean. Married October 2, 2011, in New York City.
Disclosure: Yes, I’m on GSE’s board. And Blue Jersey’s all in for Love. Any questions?