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Front Porch: What’s in a name? Their vows were meant to be

Thu., June 26, 2014, midnight

This is a story about a couple who married this winter and the little sign from the universe they received just before saying “I do.”

They didn’t need a sign, as they had been together more than nine years and knew what they wanted, but a sign is a sign, so they didn’t question it.

Casey and Chris are men in their mid-30s. Both are from Victoria, Texas, and met in 2004 through mutual friends in Austin, where Casey worked and Chris was visiting. Not sure they wanted to get involved in a long-distance dating situation, they were reluctant initially to see one another beyond that first meeting, but took a chance and began making the two-hour commute to see if a relationship would flourish. After a year, Chris moved to Austin, and they’ve been together since.

A job opportunity took them to San Francisco in 2006 and then another one drew them to Seattle in 2010, where they still live. Casey is in technical sales for a software company that supports Microsoft, and Chris recently earned his BFA in industrial design from the Art Institute of Seattle.

They had always talked about being able to marry “but it didn’t become a big deal for us until it became legal in Washington,” Casey said. They wanted to have a wedding their families could attend, but that would not be able to happen until this summer. Still they wanted to be legally united and last fall decided to have a brief civil ceremony before year’s end and take time to plan the more formal event involving their families.

Why do both? There certainly were practical reasons. With Chris a full-time student, Casey would be able to claim him as a dependent for 2013 if they were married.

“I know that seems a little crass,” Casey said, “but we also wanted to be official, legal. We’ve heard all the stories about couples not being protected for health and insurance and other reasons. Being married applies rights and responsibilities across the board, and we wanted what every other couple is able to have.”

So they decided for a no-frills courthouse ceremony before Jan. 1. Come Dec. 15, they realized they’d better get going with that and began calling judges to see who might be available to perform the ceremony. They found a judge who had time the following day. They already had the rings and their license, so it was a matter of rounding up a few friends to serve as witnesses, one of whom was my son Sam.

“We really thought it would be reciting a few generic vows and signing some papers,” Chris said, “but the judge made it a wonderful experience. She spoke about how happy she was to be part of this event in our lives and how meaningful it was that the citizens of Washington voted for same-sex marriage. She made it personal for us, and we all teared up.”

Several days later they flew home to Texas for the holidays and shared the news with family, and they began planning for this summer’s ceremony, which will be held on Whidbey Island in August. They might have done things a little differently had they known that the first ceremony would be so meaningful, Chris said, but they are looking forward to having two wonderful events to remember, especially since it wasn’t long ago that two gay men couldn’t consider having even one.

As for that pre-wedding sign just before the December ceremony – when Chris and Casey and friends were seated in the hallway outside the judge’s chambers, they were chatting and Chris noted they “were joking and teasing a little about how we can’t back out now, that this was it, no turning away.”

Then Sam started laughing, hard. He’d looked over at the nameplate by the judge’s door. When he asked if they had seen it and pointed it out, the laughter got contagious. The sign read: Mary Yu.

And so they did.

(Note: A few months after Chris and Casey’s wedding, Judge Yu was appointed by the governor to the state Supreme Court. She became the first openly lesbian, first Asian-American and first Latina judge to serve on the high court.)

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at upwindsailor@comcast.net. Previous columns are available at spokesman.com/columnists.


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