Finding Alice

What I Can't Help But Say

Sandy&Kris3Our friends, Kris and Sandy, are on their way home from D.C. today and I bet they’re exhausted. I know it’s depleting most of my spare energy just keeping up with them on  Facebook and the news. This post is in their honor, and in honor of all couples across our nation fighting for their civil rights. Some of you might recognize the following from seeing it previously in one of my Middle Ground columns on Alameda Patch ( because the times, they are “a-changing” fast:

Our friends, Kevin and Rick, were married at San Francisco’s City Hall on June 27, 2008. (For the record, they consider their true anniversary to be their first date, more than 22 years ago.) Their small family ceremony was beautiful and memorable, and we were honored to be included.

I spun in circles on the polished marble floor of the Rotunda, taking in the grand staircase, shining brass elevators and warm layers of early evening light in the carved dome high above our heads. Every City Hall cove, staircase and balcony was filled with other wedding parties — tight family clusters and close friends accompanied by either black-robed judges or city clerks shuffling pages of vows and marriage certificates.

Every so often spontaneous applause erupted as a ceremony ended and lights flashed from assorted cameras across the hall. A little girl twirled in pink silk, taffeta and brand new shiny patent leather shoes, swinging a basket of rose petals. (A cautionary sign near the glass door forbade her to throw them…) Two tall handsome men in dark suits smiled for a camera while struggling to hold a wiggly dark-skinned toddler in layers of petticoats. Tired and cranky, she had no idea how lucky she was that these men chose to make her part of their extraordinary family.

Up in our designated alcove, the ceremony began. Rick wore a jade green shirt with a blue silk tie, and Kevin wore a blue shirt with a green silk tie. Rick surprised Kevin with custom wedding rings in red boxes that snapped crisply open and shut. His sister brought a bouquet of stargazer lilies and hydrangeas wrapped in blue tissue and cellophane.

Rick’s father’s eyes were just like his son’s — the color of a lake twinkling blue in Sierra sunshine, the curved eyes of a painted German Christmas angel. They were moist at the edges as he watched his son marry a man who had become another son to them over time. Rick’s petite mother reached up to embrace me, and then thanked me for accepting them and being “good enough to come.”

Good enough? Even years later, I’m still unsure I was worthy.

What I really want to say is that everyone should have the right to take a shot at “happily ever after.” Everyone who wants one should have a beautiful and memorable wedding, surrounded by supportive family and friends.

And everyone who thinks that same sex marriage is a bad idea should get to know people like Kevin and Rick, or Sandy Stier and Kris Perry. And if they aren’t fortunate enough to know them, or someone like them, perhaps if they stood quietly in an alcove at City Hall for just a short time, surrounded by simultaneous weddings — love emanating from every shadowed corner, off every limestone balcony — they might just change their minds.

After over 30 years of marriage I can tell you that there’s a reason they make you take those vows — “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” Being married can be damned hard, and no one is guaranteed a happy ending. As a matter of fact, it’s a long shot.

But everyone should have an equal chance for a shot at it. That’s all.

4 thoughts on “Sandy and Kris

  1. Mary says:

    Well said!

  2. Jaan Kathleen says:

    Lovely the first time I read it, and timely and lovely now.

  3. Greg Fischer says:

    I can’t improve on Jaan’s comment so “ditto” to that. I posted the column on Facebook. Thanks, Alice!

  4. Susan Sherratt says:

    Lovely piece, Alice. Thank you for sharing. Everyone deserves to marry the person they love!

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