On Gay Marriage In Ireland, From An Oklahoman In Love With An Irishman

I met Cormac in France. I’m from Oklahoma and before him I had no ties to Ireland. Now I average about three yearly trips. Every January, after spending Christmas with his family, Cormac says we won’t go back for another year. But he knows he’s defying destiny. There are birthdays, family vacations, funerals, anniversaries and weddings. This summer we have another wedding—his cousin’s. She’s marrying a man so the referendum on gay marriage in Ireland this Friday won’t have an effect on their plans. But if the “no” side wins, I’m not sure how we’re going feel at the ceremony. I know it’s a selfish thought. The event isn’t about us. It’s their day, not ours.

But the idea that we can’t eventually have our day will hurt.

A more immediate problem will be that uncomfortable question every unmarried couple hears at a wedding: “So when are you two tying the knot?” There you are with one of your boyfriend’s uncles or cousins, who’s got a few pints’ worth of carefree chattiness in him, asking you when you’re going to commit your life to his relative. How do you say, “Well, I’d like for us to live together for X number of years first, just to be sure…” without sounding like a jerk?

I try distraction tactics.

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“That’s funny. You know, once his mom had a dream about us getting married. Apparently we pulled up to the ceremony in a Hummer. I think the Hummer is my influence on the dream. Fair enough, I’m from Oklahoma. I’m lucky she didn’t dream of us riding in on a giant pit bull. So we get out of our traditional Midwestern marriage Hummer wearing, her words here, ‘absolutely gorgeous suits,’ which she obviously designed since it was her dream. Oh hey, that pint’s looking low, how about I get you another one?”

If the “no” vote wins, will telling that story make people feel sorry for us? The minute Cormac and I enter a conversation, will people feel like they have to check themselves and edit how they talk to us, filtering out the references to marriage, at a wedding? After a “no” vote: If they do, it might hurt; if they don’t, it might hurt. It’s an impossible situation. Something about it almost feels worse than the idea of us wallowing in bitterness, hunched over in the no-marriage corner of the room, trying to convince the barman to just hand over the bottle of gin for Christ’s sake. Oh God, what if he just gave us the bottle without a fight? Out of pity? That would be the worst. Free drinks for the party killers, the tiny dark spots on the married couple’s otherwise flawless day.

I’ve tried to prepare a way to deal with this. I could say we can always get married in Oklahoma. Let’s think about that for a moment. In Oklahoma. In a state where not one single county voted for Obama in the last two presidential elections. We could grab fifty bucks, hop in a Hummer, train a pitbull to be our ring bearer, drive up to the courthouse in my hometown Pryor Creek and there we would be legally recognized as a married couple.

Honestly, that does sound amazing (especially the pitbull part). But here’s the problem: I can count on one hand the number of my family members that think I should be allowed to marry Cormac. If I add two by including my deceased parents (Where are your heartstrings? I will pull them…I will!), I can still count it on one hand. If my family members showed up, they would probably come with their funeral faces. Pitbulls and Hummers aside, it would be a pretty depressing ceremony. Who wants a wedding like that?

If it was in Ireland, how many of Cormac’s family members would show up? I couldn’t count them on the hands of every member of my family. They’re a dream family-in-law. It has to be Ireland. Also, his mother would kill me if it wasn’t.

I’ve really set myself up to end this with a proposal. Well, I’m not going to. Like I said earlier, I want us to live together for X number of years first. And even after X number of years, just like with any other couple, a proposal is something between us… and (if Cormac will let me get one) our pit bull.

Vote “yes.”

Lead photo: William Murphy on Flickr

David Lewis is short story writer from Oklahoma, now living in Paris, France. A version of this post appeared on Medium.

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