By Barb Feige, Deputy Director, ACLU-PA
So, I got married last weekend. It was a small wedding, performed in accordance with my observant Jewish faith and practice as well as in accordance with the law and regulations of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And everyone had a lovely time, including me and my new husband, whose name is Sanford, but who is known as Sandy.
As we ran the errands and got all the required paperwork in order in the weeks leading up to the wedding, I couldn’t help but think about other couples who would like to get married, but can’t… like those who are a part of our ACLU-PA lawsuit to rid the state of its Defense of Marriage Act. Two weeks ago, as I waited in line to apply for and then a week ago when picking up our marriage license, I thought about those women whose loves may have the same name as my love, but who happen to be female Sandy’s. They can’t sit in a stuffy hallway in the Allegheny County Marriage License Bureau, smiling because you just can’t help it, and realizing how “official” everything is about to become. They and my gay men friends- couples who have been together for 20 and 30 years, and who have warned Sandy that he better treat me right – cannot know the tingle of saying for the first time, “This is my husband” or “This is my wife”, without anyone casting a sidelong glance.
Sandy and I are not exactly a young couple and we are combining two complete households, so we had no desire or need to register for gifts. Instead we thanked friends and family for the gift of their love and support and asked that if they wished to do something to honor and celebrate our marriage, that they make a donation to one of six specified organizations (including the ACLU-PA, of course). We received an acknowledgment from one of the organizations a few days ago—it was addressed to “Ms. Feige and Ms. R_______”. Obviously the Western PA Humane Society had no trouble acknowledging the marriage of what they thought to be two women!
As Jews, we break a glass at the conclusion of the ceremony as a reminder that not all is well and peaceful and joyful in the world and that our job is to make the world better – tikkun olam. I was happy and joyful on my wedding day but was reminded that not everyone can have that same joy and I am more committed than ever to doing what I can—as an individual and as an ACLU-PA staff member – to bring about the freedom to marry for all Pennsylvanians.