Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our (first) Wedding(-ish) Story

Or Gay Marriage Part 2

While we were on vacation in California this past weekend Ange and I done and got hitched! Ok, well kind of but not really. We did file our paperwork to become officially registered domestic partners!

Here's the story:

Ange and I have been wanting to make our relationship "official" for some time. To us, we are married, but to the outside world, we are not. We had been toying with the idea of going and getting married in a state (or country) that would allow us to get married but just hadn't gotten around to planning our "destination wedding."

When I accepted the job at CSU-Chico we started to arduous process of figuring out what hoops we needed to jump through to make sure she is recognized as my legal spouse and is entitled to (most of) the benefits that would be extended to a legally married couple. When you are LGBT you always know that there are hoops. So we found out that we would have to legally register in the state of California as domestic partners. We then had to figure out whether we needed to already be citizens of the state (No) and if what we would need to do (fill out a paper). So I downloaded the form and we did nothing with it for 2 weeks. Procrastinators much?

So while we were in California this past week we decided we'd fill out the forms and hand deliver them and yay! we'd be "official." So we downloaded the forms to my mom's computer and looked them over. Ange realized that she had the opportunity to legally change her name if she so desired. Since I am an academic (that sounds SO fancy doesn't it?) and I have already had publications under my name I had decided not to change my name for professional reasons. Since she had a day to think about it she did what any reasonable person would and posted a poll on Facebook! That's NOT to say that her decision was based solely on the opinions of her Facebook "friends." We had discussed it previously and continued to discuss it all day with my mom and Dale and amongst ourselves. Basically we could not come up with a reason not to, and all the feel good reasons to do it were enough. So we filled out the forms later that night with Ange changing her last name to Bledsoe-Briggs. We then decided to deliver them the next morning. 

The next morning we were looking over the papers again and it dawned on us that we would have to pay an extra $15 to hand deliver the papers and we weren't even sure that would expedite the process any. We tried to call the SOS's Office but the recording very hilariously informed us that due to the Governor's budget cuts there were not enough staff left to answer the phone and all you could do was listen to the menu over and over. Lovely. 

So we decided to just fill out the form, have it notarized, and then stick it in the mail and wait for our certificate and lovely "Your Future Together" brochure to come in the mail.

Side bar #1: First of all, "Your Future Together" is the silliest thing ever. Apparently all married or domestic partners get a copy of it when you get married/registered. In spirit, it's fine. It has bland tips for having a healthy relationship. However, I'm sure almost no one reads it and flings it in the trash. Keep the money and pay someone to answer your phone instead of printing up stupid booklets. Secondly, the brochure is created for heterosexual couples so why are you sending it to us? It's all heterosexual imagery, and all the health issues are covered from the perspective of a straight person. Not. For. Us.

Side bar #2: If heterosexual senior citizens want to become domestic partners rather than get married, which they would do to preserve certain financial benefits related to social security, they have to pay $10 to register. If you are a same-sex domestic partner then you get to pay an additional $23! Why? Because apparently once we get partnered we're all going to start beating each other. Old people apparently do not beat each other, but we do. Good to know. I mean, whatever, $23 to support LGBT domestic abuse programs is minimal but still, double standards people. Annoying. 

So long story short, for $33 we get a little certificate that says we are officially domestic partners, a lame booklet that isn't really for us, and the knowledge we're helping some people get out of domestic abuse situations (maybe--the whole program seems fishy to me). Funsies. We still aren't married, but we're a step closer. We don't get any state or federal benefits for being partnered, but we do get insurance from my employer (which is technically a state benefit) and the satisfaction that we are somehow legally acknowledge (although at a drastically less level than married heteros). 

So we drive on over to the UPS store to get our form notarized. PEOPLE. If you want a serious notary to sign your forms head on over to Long Beach, California to the Spring St. store because I have never seen anyone as serious about being a notary as this girl. My mom had already warned us that she was VERY serious about her duty and that we should not expect jovial joking around with her. She was so right. 

We went in the store and there was a man who asked us if we needed help. We said we needed a form notarized and he said the woman who was the notary would not be in for another 10 minutes. Apparently when you are a fancy public official you don't have to come to work on time! So we went next door to get a coffee and wait. 

After about 10 minutes we went back over and the same guy was at the counter and told us to hold on a minute. Now, it was just me, Ange and my mom in the store. But Ms. Professional Notary comes out from the back and says "Did someone need a Notary?" just like someone would say "Does someone need a doctor?" She was so serious. We had to stifle some giggles. We said yes we needed to notarize a form and she said very formally "What will I be notarizing?" We handed over the form and she scrutinized it as if it were the Declaration of Independence. Since there were two signatures required on the form it was going to cost us $20 rather than $10 (SIGH) but whatevs. What's $10 more than what we were already going through? She then took our identification and began copying it down in her special Notary book. While she was working on this she made us read through the form AGAIN to be sure we understood it all and to make us write N/A in any open space "just in case."

After she got done copying our information down she asked us if we were both here on our own free will and were not being coerced into this. I almost held up my right hand to swear to it, but I kept it together and just said yes. I was surprised that was all she asked. No proof that we were partners (whatever that would be), no financial statements, just swearing it and filling out the form. She then filled out her portion of the form...which took forever. She literally read through her statement WORD FOR WORD and even marked all the his/her/they parts of the form, either crossing out what didn't apply or circling what did. I was dying. 

Then she took about 5 minutes trying to line up her stamp so it was situated perfectly. Then she stamped it and seriously let the stamp sit there for like 30 seconds. Just to make sure it was good and inked I guess. It took all of my willpower to not lose it. I quickly folded it up, stuck it in the envelope and dropped it in their mail crate. We hit the road to drop off my mom and head out on our "honeymoon" at the freshwater springs spa. 

When we were at the coffee shop I picked up a bag of shamrock cookies because they looked yummy. We decided they were like our wedding cake. And they were like good luck charms right?

About 20 minutes down the highway we were chatting about our domestic partnership and I started to say "And it only cost us $53!" but I only got the "And it only cost..." when I realized that I forgot to write a damn check for the registration!!! 





We'd only been partners officially for 30 minutes and I'd already ruined everything. Of course I am dramatic and no good in stressful situations so I started going into hysterical convulsions and flapping my arms around the car screaming about how I'd already ruined everything. Luckily Ange has been with me for 2 and a half years and is used to me being ridiculous so she calmly exited the freeway, pulled into a parking lot, googled the UPS store and called them to see if it was ok if we came back and took the envelope out of the carton and put the check in. They said no problem. Huh. Who knew that the super serious crew would be so flexible with the US mail? So we buzzed back to the store, I made Ange go into the store to retrieve the mail and put the check in because I was too embarrassed by my carelessness of our new partnership to show my face. She was out in about 2 minutes and we were back on our way. Day saved. I knew I picked a good one! 
So that is the first wedding-ish story we have. I'm sure there will be more to follow as laws progress and we gain more rights and freedoms in this oh-so-lovely country of ours. But for now, I present, The Bledsoe-Briggs Family!

So happy together :)


PBJdreamer said...

Happy for you!

I freak out about things like that too....I guess we should end up with partners that naturally counter our weaknesses.

I hope you have a ceremony in the future.

Love the pics!

that is all

Krissy said...

Cute story! I'm very happy for you!