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Extra steps down the wedding aisle

Jenny and I are getting married.

The problem is where.

Oh, not where we’re having the wedding. That’s easy. Our wedding will be held in the church we attend, a 100-year-old Lutheran Church on the Upper West Side of New York, with well-worn wooden pews and slightly peeling paint.

Our church welcomes all and marries all (as does the Lutheran denomination now), which is probably why it’s so vibrant, with children scratching out drawings during the sermons and straight and gay couples of all races mingling during the social hour.

Our minister, when we asked her to officiate at our wedding, was thrilled. “Oh!” she said, clapping her hands. “I’ve been wanting to marry a gay couple! This is great news!”

So our wedding will be in a church.

But our marriage is a different story.

New York state recognizes gay marriages performed in other states and countries where they are legal – so once we are married somewhere, anywhere, we will be considered married at home.

We had been hoping that New York would go all the way and legalize marriages performed here, as well. And that looked likely for a while. There was strong support in the state legislature and the governor put his support behind the bill.

And then came last June, when the legislature careened into a circus, the governor lost all credibility and – well, suffice it to say that it’s doubtful our minister would be able to say “By the power of the state of New York I now pronounce you spouses for life” even if we waited until next year. Or 2012. Or 2013.

So we can’t get married officially in New York.

We could get married in Washington, D.C., where Jenny’s father is a judge. That would be perfect, except that he has yet to accept that Jenny is a lesbian.

And for a time we thought about Iceland. Iceland will likely get marriage equality this June, and Jenny has always wanted to go there. It’s a small country. For a few days we thrilled each other by imagining jetting off to Iceland after our wedding to get officially married by their lesbian prime minister.

“Why not?” we thought. “Why shouldn’t she officiate?” It’s a small country. It would be good publicity, at least to the well-traveled gay set.

And then we imagined waving around a marriage certificate in Icelandic should we ever have to prove that we are married, say, in Arkansas, and shuddered.

There are other choices: Spain. New Hampshire. Massachusetts. Iowa. Each has its own draws and drawbacks.

Straight couples do not have this issue. They do not have to figure out the logistics of both a wedding and a marriage. They don’t have to decide both who will see them walk down the aisle and who will see them officially tie the knot. They do not have one outfit for the minister and one for the judge who signs the papers.

But we do.

In the end, we’ll probably do the easy thing: Connecticut. It’s right over the border on the MetroNorth. We don’t know who of our friends and family will be able to make it – we’re already asking them to fly in from all over the country during the week instead of a weekend, so asking them to tack on an extra day seems wrong.

But what is really wrong, of course, is that we should need to perform an extra step at all.

We can’t just walk down the aisle. We also have to drive, ride or fly across state lines.

But we will do it, because at the end of the day, beautiful as it will be, we don’t just want a wedding. We want to be married.

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