This story was initially created as part of the Marriage Equality Movement Family Story Quilt which premiered at San Francisco City Hall on National Freedom to Marry Day in February 2007, honoring the historic Winter of Love and the 40th anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court Loving vs. Virginia decision. These family stories -- created in 2007 -- now have many updates, babies have been born, many couples have gotten legally married in California in 2008, some have divorced, some have won historic union battles and so much more ... stay tuned for updates!
Ray Aguilera & Michael Guillot
- Ray is 31 and Michael is 38 years old
- Ray is a writer, Michael is a Records Coordinator
- Our family is Irish/English/Mexican/Cajun
- We live in Oakland, CA
- We've been together since 2001
We're not the type of guys that would be so cutesy as to get married around Valentine's Day. But hey, when City Hall starts issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and no one knows how long it will last, you do what you have to do. So we got married on 13 February 2004. Friday the 13th.
The funny thing was, a few weeks earlier, I had already decided to propose to Michael. I had a ring and everything. So when the news hit that San Francisco was marrying gay couples, I took it as a sign.
We rushed to City Hall, waited and sweated and waited some more, and after more than six hours we left City Hall exhausted, looking like crap -- and married! Since our shotgun wedding didn't allow us to share the event with friends and family, the first thing we did as a married couple was to start planning a proper celebration. A few months later, more than a hundred well-wishers helped us celebrate our commitment to each other.
For nearly six months, we were legally married, but I knew the marriages would eventually be overturned. To prepare for that, I told myself over and over that the legality didn't matter to me. I managed to convince myself that I really felt that way. "My marriage isn't contained in a piece of paper" is what I told myself.
When our marriage was declared null and void, on the day before our six-month anniversary, I realized how important that piece of paper had become. All the joy and excitement I felt on our wedding day got turned into sadness and disappointment. As a disabled man, I've experienced discrimination on many fronts in my life, but somehow this was the worst. The most overt, the most deeply personal.
Three years later, we're still happily married. That sadness and disappointment has been replaced by conviction; that we did the right thing, that we will continue to do the right thing by each other. The government might not recognize it, but in our own minds, and the minds of our family and friends, our marriage endures. Yes, the legal aspects are important, and worth fighting for, something that we will continue to do.
To the best of my knowledge, our marriage hasn't threatened any hetero marriages. Ironically, what it has done is turned many of our straight friends and family members into educated, articulate proponents of gay marriage.
In this country, marriage has a split personality. It's supposed to be all about love and commitment, but at its core, the government treats marriage as a legal/social/financial contract. We've got the love and commitment down, but unfortunately none of the legal protections nor responsibilities to one another.
California has domestic partnership laws, but what happens when we cross state lines or international borders? We have friends and family in several states and countries, and whenever we go to visit, I think about what would happen if one of us needed to act on behalf of the other. Outside of California, we have no guarantee that our rights are protected. Drawing up additional legal papers to protect ourselves takes time, money, and the foresight to carry around a binder of legal documents anytime we're away from home. It certainly doesn't feel like freedom.
At this point, it's just a matter of time before same-sex marriage becomes reality. People are getting smarter, and old prejudices are being exposed for what they are. When that day comes, we'll be ready.
The exhibit has toured extensively and is now part of an ongoing exhibit called THE LOVING QUILT 2010: A People's Living History - and Herstory - of Marriage Equality & Family Justice Movements
A Project of Marriage Equality USA in collaboration with NUMEROUS creative individuals & community, state and national organizations.
Maya Scott-Chung, MPH is the Creative Director and Curator of THE LOVING QUILT 2010 which was created during 2006-2010 as part of Maya's Masters in Public Health/ Community Health Education Thesis at San Francisco State University.
For exhibit booking and further information contact Maya: email@example.com (510) 381-0876
THE LOVING QUILT Webpage: www.marriageequality.org/quilt