Out of the closet and into married life

W&A outside the Henrico County Courts building with marriage license
Outside the Henrico County Courts Building with marriage license

On October 7, 2014, W and I became legally married in the Commonwealth of Virginia, less than a full day after it became legal for same-sex couples to marry here. We arrived early at the Henrico County Courts Building, expecting a line, and not only was there no line, it was not particularly early. The clerk’s office was already open. With at least a degree of mild apprehension about the reaction, I told the woman at the desk that we wanted to apply for a marriage license. She pointed us to a set of clipboards, labeled “Bride” and “Groom,” that sat on a table behind us. “The forms are both the same,” she said, expressing little affect. “Just pick one.” We both decided to pick clipboards labeled “Bride.” It somehow seemed most appropriate, although I have never thought of myself as a bride.

When we turned in the forms, two other staff people hovered around the woman at the computer who, with a wrinkled brow and pursed lips, set about entering the data. We weren’t sure if she was displeased with the fact we were both women, or if something was causing her distress. Soon she made it clear.  “The computer hasn’t been updated yet so it takes a while to put everything in,” she explained to the others. One woman expounded to us that she had to cover for her at lunch time so that’s why she was looking on. As the woman at the computer made progress, I saw her face relax, and as it did, I could feel myself relax. This wasn’t going to be so bad after all. Within minutes, we exchanged our money for the license and we were ready to leave.

As I moved toward the door on my immediate right, I read the sign posted on the door, “Closet, Do Not Enter.” I quickly rotated a little further to my right to the actual door, and as I did, quipped, “Oh, wrong door. I just came out of there.” The whole place, staff and visitors, alike, erupted into laughter. People followed us out of the building still laughing. “That’s going to be something they’ll remember,” one man said. I imagine it’ll be a moment the staff carried home with them on their first full day of granting same-sex marriage licenses in Virginia. I was glad to bring them joy on our joyous day!