Fire Stations, Broadway, & Weddings That Might or Might Not Occur

When my eldest two guys were small, like preschool and kindergarten small, they had a grand plan to marry each other and move to New York City where they’d live in the fire station near Broadway. The eldest was going to work on Broadway by night, and be a librarian by day and the younger was going to be a firefighter.

I almost didn’t break it to them that brothers can’t marry. I finally did, explaining that they were already family so they didn’t need to marry one another.

Always, always, when we spoke of marriage that gender pronouns remained—remain—flexible. He or she, your husband or wife, if you choose to marry, we talk like that (I am not kidding, if it comes up, that’s what goes).

I remember pushing strollers with a lesbian friend at the Pride March one year during that era and her talking about how friends had asked her whether she’d be upset or pleased if her then-preschooler son turned out to be straight. She told me that she replied, “As long as there are grandchildren, I don’t care what happens.” Agreed (sorry, kids, maybe there is a tad bit of pressure on that one).

The fire station on Broadway evolved to a plan to move our big yellow house on a giant flatbed truck and relocate it to Central Park, where the boys could live with all of their friends. They decided that marriage was out; living with friends was in.

These days the only plan I know about is that the second guy hopes to own a restaurant on a farm (that might also have a B&B set-up). I’m guessing that particular dream will not occur in New York City.


Whatever of that: last night, the New York Senate voted to make same-sex marriage legal in their state. Marriage is—regardless of all else you might think—an institution we attach to home, and to family, and for that reason its weight in terms of legitimacy in society and attendant civil rights is great. It is a force. And equality, that’s a compelling force, too. I surely hope that my children find love. I surely hope if the love they find is with a same-sex partner and they want to marry, the wedding can take place in any of our 50 states. After a frustrating period of waiting about New York, I thought maybe I wouldn’t care so much. I thought I’d just fall asleep and find out what happened in the morning.

I couldn’t do that.

Once the news came through, I felt—as I did in my fair state of Massachusetts—elated and much more moved than I expected to feel. Love affirmed. Families affirmed. This is pretty spectacular. It’s totally worth losing a little sleep over.


The powers of the Interwebs allowed me to perform marriages (ridiculous as that is) and I would indeed travel to marry folks wanting me to do that. Just saying. Hooray!

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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