An elegant ceremony at the Four Seasons in Seattle was the kind of wedding many little girls imagine. For Michelle and Lily, reality is better than a dream.
Saying their vows and celebrating with a kiss in front of their friends, Lily West and Michelle Odo’s married life is just beginning.
“We met in college 13 years ago, Michelle moved up to Seattle first,” Lily says.
“No, 14 years, ago,” Michelle interrupts. “We’ve been together 15 years.”
“Well, okay,” Lily smiles.
They act the same as any couple who playfully bickers about how long they’ve been together.
The wedding backdrop of tulle, crystal and candles looks like any other ceremony at an upscale hotel. So, even they were surprised that the day seemed to change them.
“It means more to me than I expected,” says Lily.
Both women are in their 30s.
They had a civil commitment ceremony this summer, but now that they are legally married in Washington, Lily finds herself more emotional on her wedding day than she thought she would be.
Her feelings pop up like bubbles in champagne.
“Oh God,” she says with a sigh of relief after the ceremony. “I feel probably what everyone feels on their wedding day. I’m lucky, and happy and snuggly. I just want to go home and be together all the time.
Lily says she’s also feels something new. She never really fit in in school, and has felt discrimination because she’s a lesbian, but not anymore.
“Just knowing that we’re now included – and I don’t think either one of us were big on being included in school or whatever – feels better than I ever thought it would.”
Michelle says their wedding, for her, was a political statement.
“Not that it’s a ‘take it to the streets’ kind of politics,” she explains. “It was important to us to get the license on the first day and get married on the first day just to be part of the numbers and to show how this legislation affects as many people as it does.”
Also at the Four Seasons last night, Dick Francisco witnessed his first gay wedding.
He was born in Seattle 95 years ago, and he’s seen a lot of changes to his city.
“Welcome everyone. We’re here on this glorious day to celebrate the love that Jordan and Danny have for one another, and to recognize their decision to marry.”
Francisco’s grandson Jordon Rayburn, married the man he wants to spend the rest of his life with, Danny Schaub.
He watched the ceremony from his wheelchair. It’s a spot he’s earned as a former Marine Colonel who’s been through three wars.
“I’m old school, you know,” he says.
Francisco is a member of the greatest generation, with an attitude that’s more like the current generation’s than his own.
“You either stay away or you give them all the support you can, and I feel I’ll give my family all the support regardless of the situation,” says Francisco.
He never thought there would be a day when two men or two women could get married.
“It’s about time, he says. “You can’t stop progress. Seattle is a wonderful place and we all have to either get with it or get out.”
Although Washington joined eight other states that allow same-sex marriage, there could still be challenges to the state’s new law.
The U.S. Supreme Court will take up gay marriage during the current term. Several pending cases challenge the federal benefit provision of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
A separate appeal asks the justices to decide whether federal courts were correct in striking down California’s Proposition 8, the amendment that outlawed gay marriage after it had been approved by courts in the nation’s largest state.
By LINDA THOMAS