Double Happiness

jeri and amy-3

Amy and I have been meeting at Elliot Bay Book Company on Wednesdays from 10 am to 12 pm for over a year.  Each week while sipping Genmaicha tea, we critiqued a chapter from each other’s memoir until finally both of us completed our manuscripts in August.  Amy had a deadline of August 12th to complete her memoir; a year prior, at her wedding ceremony, she promised her new bride, Jeri, a completed manuscript on their first year anniversary.   Amy’s memoir,An Ex-Pat’s Wife, is about the year the adventurous couple spent living in London on an ex-pat assignment.

In An Ex-Pat’s Wife, Amy exuberantly embraces the wife role even though as a couple, they hadn’t yet sanctified their relationship with a private wedding ceremony, nor did they have the legal sanction to do so. Through all her daily devotionals, from vacuuming to making pumpkin bread to waiting long hours alone in their flat while Jeri worked 16-hour days as a corporate executive, Amy, as a wife, brings both dignity and credit to her female lineage. However, Amy, an emotionally fearless writer, also exposes her struggle to find self-value and worth in the traditional support role, a common struggle for straight and gay wives alike.

On the evening of December 5th, Amy and Jeri headed to the Seattle municipal courthouse alongside hundreds of other gay couples and applied for their marriage license.  They were 36th in line.  The media descended on these two celebrating beauties that night; photographs of them, with Amy in her original wedding veil from their private wedding ceremony in 2011 were routed throughout national wire services.

A few days later, I was not surprised to receive notice that Jeri and Amy were having a flash wedding ceremony at 9 am on December 9th, the first official day for same-sex marriages in Washington, at Elliott Bay Book Company.  In the prior twenty-four hours, the wedding came together through the generous and spontaneous support of their Seattle community. Elliott Bay Book Company donated the use of the bookstore, Bakery Nouveau donated a wedding cake, Kan Flowers donated florals, Barrier Mercedes Benz arranged for a videographer, Jill Marie Denckla Smith donated complete make-up services and Cicada Bridal outfitted Amy with a dress.  Their officiant, Annemarie Juhlian, who had performed their ceremony in 2011, and renewed their vows in 2012, was the first to commit to the joyous celebration.

Of course, it was entirely appropriate to have their wedding at the bookstore because with the passage of Referendum 74, a new chapter is being written in history as same-sex marriages are legalized in the state of Washington.  And of course, Elliott Bay Book Company is the place where, week after week, Amy had the safety and comfort to continue her reflections on what being a wife means to her.  Her narrative is of enormous importance, because although she identified her sexual orientation in her teens, she came of age as a wife at a pivotal time in history when same-sex couples can be legally bound in marriage.  Amy and Jeri will not be excluded from the rituals and social benefits of having one’s union be affirmed by their community and state.  They are legal.  They are wife and wife.

As Amy and Jeri tearfully took their vows on the stairs of Elliot Bay Book Company, their guests wept with them.  Their love, mature and deep, sealed and codified, inspired everyone who witnessed them that morning.  Books are written of such powerfully loving women who stood on alters, platforms, stages or street corners to gain their civil rights.

After the ceremony, Jeri shared their personal call to action.  She and Amy, through being their best selves, want to improve the institution of marriage. With women like Amy and Jeri, same-sex marriage looks doubly durable and twice as adorable.