This morning, Sunday, December 9, 2012, hundreds of couples are donning tuxedos and gowns, nervously getting their final preparations in place to step into an institution of public declaration - marriage.
I've been there - more than once - being uncertain, unsure and excited, certain, sure. Hands shaking as I pulled on the lacy undergarments and was helped into my wedding gown, checking the mirror one more time to make sure my hair and makeup was straight. I was make a decision, a commitment, a hopefully lasting moment truly until death-do-us-part. Marriage.
In Washington State, there are men and women preparing to stand before their family and friends, before a licensed and/or ordained official to declare legal the license they picked up on Friday. They will recite vows - traditional with a twist or those they wrote themselves - and will seal the commitment with a public expression of affection. They will keep names or change names and will walk back down the aisle for the first time as a married couple. Marriage.
Washington joins Maine and California and the other states that make today's nuptuals just a bit different - these are same sex couples.
Does that make it any more exciting and the butterflies any less real? Is marriage just about sex? What about the ones who are in sexless marriages? Is marriage just about kids? What about the ones unable to have kids - biological or adoptive? Is marriage just about health care choices? Is marriage just about legitimacy? Is marriage just about business? What is it?
Millions have asked that question through millenia. At one point, it was so that starry eyed young virgins (and hopefully, young virgin males) could explore the Song of Solomon beauty of physical intimacy. Many young people with raging hormones sat through sermons about the horrors of sex outside marriage and how they would essentially burn in the fiery pit if they gave in to the natural inclinations of their changing bodies. Is it to have as many children as her womb can possibly hold, what is it?
Perhaps, ultimately, as we learn through the couples who are taking the leap into a commitment, marriage is just that - a commitment to love this person with all their faults, with all the loss, with all the gains, with all the hopes, with all the dashed dreams, with all the everything that comes when you share a life and space with another person.
Marriage...just...is...what...it...is...for...each...couple. And that is ok.