My first marriage ceremony with Michael was in Ontario,Canada, in the city of Toronto. And it was not only the emotional experience we thought it would be, but I’ll never forget the respect we were afforded.
We were married in Toronto shortly after marriage equality became a reality in Ontario in 2003. I was on tour with CHICAGO the Musical, and Michael had never been to Canada, so we planned that he would come visit during that time. With the new marriage law, I asked Michael to marry me thinking this might be the only time we would ever have a legal marriage ceremony and license. Even if it weren’t valid in the US, we would know we did “something” legal.
It was my job to get the marriage license forms from City Hall as Michael wasn’t in town yet. When I picked them up, no one blinked or acted in any way that seemed disrespectful. As a matter of fact, I was struck by – even at the early date in marriage equality’s existence in Canada – that no one even hinted at “you know, this is new for us.” The clerk at City Hall was warm and congratulated me on my upcoming ceremony.
We were married by Senior Justice Lauren Marshall in her chambers. The way things worked, you needed to find someone who could and would officiate the ceremony. Somehow I was led to Justice Marshall and I clearly remember how happy and supportive she was to be a part of our special day.
My second marriage in Palm Springs was just as wonderful. But I’ll always remember how people in another country treated Michael and I with such respect and support at a time when marriage equality was still so new.
And I’ll value how Canada was an early leader for the world in terms of marriage equality.