They met at a pool party 12 years ago, dated for a year, took a honeymoon to Spain, were engaged for 11 years and on Oct. 18, Nick Macierz and Gary Freeman were married.
Since marriage was never an option before the California Supreme Courty made it legal, preparations for the wedding included “telling people ‘no,'” said Macierz to having a best man, to having rings, and to other traditional marriage preparations.
“I wanted a cake with two grooms on top of the cake,” said Macierz, 53, whose taking painting and life drawing.
“When he was growing up playing with turtles, playing with exotic fish and drawing clothes, we knew he was different,” said Kevin Macierz, Nick’s brother, reading a toast as their families gathered in the couple’s Glendale home.
“When he went away to college and told me that he was different, I said ‘I know.’ When he met Gary 10 to 12 years ago, we knew there was something there. That it was going to last a long time. The family just took him in and Gary took us in.”
With tears in his eyes, Kevin handed the piece of paper on which the toast was written to their sister, Michelle Haddock.
“I saw how much they cared for each other and over the years, loved each other.I never thought that we would be here today; look how far we have all come,” said Haddock
“Cheers,” said the group of friends and family raising their champagne glasses.
“I hope Nick and Gary have a long and happy life together, like their parents did. I love you both, we love you both,” said Haddock.
Elaine Macierz, Nick’s mother, whose anniversary date was “borrowed,” said during the reception: “My heart is filled with love for them. I wish my husband were here to see it, because he would be just as happy with everything.
“All he ever wanted was what I wanted, for our kids to be happy. We’re seeing Nick happy with Gary. I just hope that other people who have children who are gay can be as loving and can accept it.”
On May 15, the California Supreme Court ruled that “An individual’s sexual orientation – like a person’s race or gender – does not constitute legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights,” taking down the ban on same-sex marriage.
On Nov. 4, Proposition 8 will be on the ballot with a “yes” vote counting towards eliminating the right for same-sex couples
Macierz and Freeman know same-sex couples that have decided not to get married.
“It’s about the rights,” said Macierz, “it’s about having the full right to do it or not do it, and right now we have the right to do it.”
“There is a certain power to refer to someone not as an acquaintance, or your longtime companion, which sounds a little bit like someone who takes care of you in a nursing home, but to refer to someone as your husband,” said Freeman, 61, who is majoring in art history.
“It means that you made a commitment to that person. It’s not your man of the moment, it’s someone that you’re intending to be with the rest your life and have said that to all your friends and family.”
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California are the only states in which same-sex couples can get married.
Countries where same-sex marriage is legal include: Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, and Canada.
Even though same-sex couples would be able to marry, under federal law, other states would not have to recognize the marriages as valid and the couples would not be eligible for federal benefits like Social Security benefits for spouses and joint filing for income taxes.
On Nov. 3, 1998, South Carolina removed the ban on interracial marriage, a step that some people think is similar to the progress that will be made if same-sex married couples continue to have the right to get married.
The supporters of Prop. 8 are supporting the exclusivity of a traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
Elaine said that since it’s tradition, it’s hard for people to accept change.
“This is just the next step, being married we’re ready to be in society like everyone else; it’s the real world, we live in it, but people are unwilling to accept that because it’s been alright to be hidden away,” said Marciez.
“Husbands, it’s a simple statement of who we are,” said Freeman.
Same-sex marriage could have a major positive impact on the state’s economy. According to The Wedding Report, an online wedding industry data base, the estimated amount of money to be spent on weddings in California in 2008 is $7,043,366,790, up from 2007. That’s right, more than $7 billion. An estimated 11,442 same-sex marriages were were recorded in Calif. between June 17 and Sept. 17, 2008, according to the Williams Institute. a think tank dedicated to the field of sexual orientation law and public policy; almost 17 percent of all marriages for the same period. In other words, a potential market of $1,197,372,354 per year could be created by same-sex marriage.
Other 2008 wedding statistics for California:
Total number of weddings between June 17-Sept. 17 – 67,905
Estimated weddings between same-sex couples – 11,442
Average Number of Guests per Wedding – 168
Average total spending per wedding – $29,628