I spent the day outside of a county clerk’s offices with about 30 other people there to cheer on couples coming in droves to get their marriage licenses. It was 97 degrees in the shade, no gun rights activists showed up to stunt, and no one fainted. Here are highlights from a day of ground zero happiness for LGBT people in Austin, Texas.
1) I held a 25-lb. bag of white rice on my hip, throwing handfuls over the couples as they exited. Other revelers handed out slices of wedding cake and cups of sparkling cider. Very few couples actually got "married" that day, but who cares. We get to have all the wedding party favors now.
2) The interracial gay male couple wobbling through the parking lot on wooden canes had been together 53 years. The look in their eyes as they walked out with their brown paper marriage license envelope cannot be described.
3) I saw my dear therapist from 10 years ago cut up her white lace wedding dress and tie scraps of it to people's arms as a statement. “There's more work to do! Civil rights for all! Keep fighting!"
4) County staff were stunned by this level of sheer enthusiasm and happiness demonstrated by grown-ups. One gruffly handed out rolls of brown paper towels to crying people.
5) A boy studiously kept his bubble machine going on the sidewalk so people walked in through magical iridescent bubble rain.
6) Who coordinated the flower fairy brigade? People in pickup trucks drove up with buckets of rose bouquets and bags of ice all day long, put them on the sidewalk, then zoomed away.
7) So many lesbians with adopted children – it appears that lesbian couples are almost singlehandedly adopting a majority of the 7,000 foster system children of Texas.
8) Pizza donated from Eastside Pies gets even more delicious in the blazing sun. Rainbow cupcakes from H-E-B, each with a little candy rainbow flag on top, melt into sticky puddles. But we'll eat them anyway.
9) The staff of Workers Defense Project – a nonprofit fighting for fair employment for low-wage workers – turned out en masse to cheer LGBTQ equality. All struggles are connected. More kissing!
10) I had no idea there are so many intergenerational couples out there—people with a 20-, 30-, 40-year age difference, holding hands, walking at the same pace. This means there's still hope.
11) Policeman set up orange safety cones to keep the cheering gallery confined to a small boxy area. I got miffed and asked them if they could please just not do that.
12) I found the silver-haired Sergeant in Aviator shades. “Sir, could you all please not do that? It feels like you’re saying we need to be controlled.” He paused. “We just want everybody to stay safe. But I guess we’ll just take these back up then.” He gestured and the other officers moved in reverse, scooping the orange cones up and away.
13) “As a matter of fact, I got married to my own husband just last year,” the Sergeant leaned over and said. “You did?! OMG! Hey, everybody! Our Sergeant here got married to his husband!” People cheered and jumped up and down and threw confetti over him, too.
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