Nevertheless, we paid close attention in 2001 when measure AB 25 was introduced by San Francisco Assemblywoman Carole Migden. Whereas the 1999 act did little more than set up a state registry and provide hospital visitation rights, AB 25, passed into law by Governor Davis on October 15, provided a host of economic and legal rights and benefits to domestic partners — inheritance rights, the right of step-parent adoption, the right to sue for wrongful death. Shortly thereafter, the fateful day came: My best-beloved turned to me and asked, “Will you go to the notary public with me?” The decision was a practical one. Our “ceremony” consisted of mutually holding the envelope as we put our application in the mailbox, then hosting a wedding feast at Ciudad.
This Saturday, my 52-year-old brother will marry the woman he has loved for 20 years and lived with for the past 13. I don’t doubt that I’ll shed a tear or two — it gets me every time I hear his stepdaughter’s children call him “Grandpa.” Still, Laurel and I will need to guard against sudden displays of affection; heaven forbid I should plant a big wet one on her in a moment of, yes, passion and, yes, utter and complete devotion — since I know another brother will be shooting me poison darts and blocking his young daughter’s gaze.
Canada will likely need to brace itself for a northern trek of gays and lesbians, who will enter into contracts of dubious merit back in their native country — it remains unclear whether under current treaties between the U.S. and Canada same-sex marriages authorized north of the border will be recognized in the States. On neither side of the border, however, will a license assure us simpler lives. The validity we seek is still decades away. Whether I am married, registered as a domestic partner or have entered into a civil union, I will still have to explain who I am to the guy who comes out to read our gas meter, to the kind but confused health-insurance customer-service rep at the other end of the telephone line. It might help my mother-in-law, Tamiko, if she could introduce me as Laurel’s wife, since “daughter-in-law” inevitably leads to confusion for those who know she doesn’t have a son. For now, I’m happy with her current resolve of introducing me as her daughter alongside Laurel, and letting the poor saps blink and brood over why I don’t look Asian.