Today is the third anniversary of my marriage to my wife, and thought that I'd share the story of how we met and the obstacles we had to overcome to exploit a (admittedly transphobic) legal loophole that was in my favor to get where we are today.
In 2005, I met a girl, and it was pretty much love at first sight. It was awkward at first because she thought I was a cute gay boy and I thought she was a straight girl. (I was starting my transition but still living as male due to being in the middle of a school term.) We had a non-legally-binding commitment ceremony in 2012 because we knew the law and that judges would try to argue that trans women like myself can’t marry anyone because either it is a same-sex pairing with a man (as Texas law will only ever consider me male with regard to getting married, gender marker change or not) or that it would seem to be a lesbian couple if I were to marry a woman (which is completely legal within the confines of how the law was written back then.)
That year, another couple we knew (one assigned male at birth like myself, the other assigned female at birth) decided to get married. The law is, technically, on our side. But they were turned down by 17 judges and two Justice of the Peace offices. They were told that the District Attorney is ‘looking into it’ as a way to intimidate them to go away and not cause a fuss. Naturally, that pissed me off enough to flippantly say to JJ, 'I ought to call up that DA and threaten to marry you!' She heard me and, agreeing with my sentiment, made me put my money where my mouth is.
So we went to a JP court where we were told a judge would be willing to marry us, thinking that his clerks understood that the 'M' [for male] on my birth certificate meant I could marry someone with an 'F' on theirs. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo. Within minutes of us being there, all the window blinds were drawn shut, save for the occasional peek and gawking. Then a clerk swore up and down that JJ had been here before and been turned down, only to come back with a different hair color and a different partner just to ‘get one over’ on her. (One thing you should never do is call my wife 'a liar' and go so far as to suggest she just dyed her hair to commit some sort of fraud. Heck, her roots were slightly showing.) Further, we were informed that the DA ‘was onto us’ in hopes that we would simply go away and not be her problem.
That’s when my wife pointed out that we were, in the eyes of the law, an opposite sex couple because the law only cared about how I was born. Apparently, talking slow and pointing out the letter of the law confuses them, as the clerks then said that they would only let me marry a man. I really wanted to point out that she would be violating the constitutional ‘definition’ of marriage, but instead we were told by the other couple that we’d have to go to the JP office in downtown Dallas while the nice lady at the Justice of the Peace office hinted that she’d happily call the police to help us leave in matching handcuffs.
Once downtown, it was much easier. We got our license, and called the clerks in order to schedule our time with their judge to be married on Valentine’s Day. They tried ignoring our calls and emails, then said they penciled us in, but they were very wary about the legality of it all and wanted to know who issued it because ‘they could get in trouble as well’. After our first encounter, the judge apparently ‘politely declined’ to be ‘associated in any way with this’ and swore he sent us an email.
A marriage license can expire if it’s not signed in time, and we started to realize that this may have been their plan if ‘make the lesbians go away’ didn’t work. We had about two weeks to get this done, and we knew we wanted it done by a judge for that extra bit of legitimacy so it couldn’t be nullified by challenging the officiant we may have had to use.
So we had to find a new judge to marry us, and we were on a ticking clock. Nineteenth judge is the charm, right? We were finally informed there was a judge willing to do this for us, and got married the morning of Valentine’s Day. A week before, however, a local news channel reported that it would be ‘up to the judge’ to allow the marriages ‘to be sanctioned.' (Again, the law is on our side and this was merely more conservative, passive-aggressive, tantrum-throwing in an attempt to seem ‘fair and balanced’.)
In the end, despite the invasive and big-government meddling of Constitutional ‘definitions’ to ban LGBTQ persons from getting married, that futile last stand the GOP took to enshrine discrimination, I got to use legalized transphobia as my loophole to marry the woman of my dreams. In fact, the license was accepted without any problems in downtown Dallas. The actual clerk we got it issued by was being very supportive and professional about it all.
And, about a year later, the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land. Even so, some Republicans seem dead-set to overturn that as they cannot allow other couples access to the same legal, secular benefits afforded by marriage equality.
This was never an issue of forcing others to agree with us, or forcing their own religions to be compassionate to their fellow humans. This was simply a matter of equality in the eyes of the law, and of allowing loving couples the legal benefits to assist them in creating healthy and strong families.