On February 12, 2001, I dressed up in a make-shift tuxedo with a pink ruffled shirt and my wife, Molly McKay, put on a wedding dress and we walked up the steps of San Francisco City Hall. This is was not the first time either of us had dressed in wedding attire before. We wore wedding attire and rode in Dykes on Bikes in the 1998 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. Molly drove her red Honda Shadow and I rode on the back and held a sign that read "Support same-sex marriage." That was an amazing day of being affirmed as a loving same-sex couple.
Some two years later on February 12th, National Freedom to Marry Day, we went down to San Francisco City Hall to affirm our love in another way. Yes, rendering visible the discrimination that same-sex couples experience every day at marriage license counters around the world, but also to render visible our love. Like the loving different-sex couples who everyone sees openly expressing their affection and commitment. We wanted to render visible same-sex love, just as beautiful, committed, and tender as the love between a man and a woman, and as we were to declare at that license counter worthy of equal treatment and recognition under law and in the eyes of society.
This was our dream... that one day same-sex couples, two men or two women who loved one another, would have the same legal rights and societal recognition as their heterosexual counterparts.
Before same-sex marriage was legal anywhere in the world, we knew that we could make it so. And so we went to San Francisco City Hall and asked for a marriage license. We were denied. It hurt. Molly cried. I stifled my pain with my conviction that we would come back every year until it was legal. And we did. We fought back tears and frustrations and our numbers grew and spread.
On February 12, 2004, our dream began to poke through the veil as on our third annual ask we were married in the San Francisco City Hall Rotunda by now Senator Mark Leno. In the days that followed 4,000 same-sex couples from around the world were married at San Francisco City Hall. On that same day, Mark Leno introduced the first marriage equality bill to grant same-sex couples civil marriage and Troy and Phillip Perry and Robin Tyler and Diane asked for marriage licenses in Los Angeles and, after being denied, filed a law suit that would become re: Marriage Cases, which eventually granted Californians the right to marry same-sex partners June 16, 2008.
Why am I telling you all this, you may wonder. Because as we sit on pins and needles waiting for the courts or Congress to bring us our rights, we have a right we can exercise called the Freedom of Speech and we have a right to go to our county clerks' offices where marriage discrimination is happening everyday and ask that we be served.
I'm inviting you to join Molly and me, Marriage Equality USA, and GetEqual on Monday, February 14th, Valentine's Day, by going down to your marriage license counter and rendering visible same-sex love and commitment and the discrimination that each and every one of us experiences in states and countries that deny us the right to marry a person of the same-sex.
You do not need to be in a relationship to do this. You can declare your right to equality at the counter. You do not need to be LGBT; as an ally you can affirm that equality means equality for all. You do not need to be in the United States. I call on my brothers and sisters across the globe to step out for your love and make your request for equality. You can read more about this and see how it's been done in the past to get ideas for your event at www.marriageequality.org or www.requestmarriage.com.
I also want to invite you to go to my site and join me for a free "Calling All Love Warriors Leadership Workshop" or sign up to attend my free tele-seminar interview, "How to be out, proud, and powerful!" with Senator Mark Leno February 1, 2011 at 6:00PM PST/9:00PM EST.
We will see the manifestation of our dream of equality for LGBT people in our lifetime, but we are all needed to play a part in rendering visible our love, our humanity, and our expectation of full equality under the law. Come out Valentine's Day and let's celebrate the beauty of same-sex love.