out of wedlock

May 16th, 2008 | Oddments, Sketch Diary

wedding detail

With all this fuss about the California Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage, I can’t help but reminisce about my own marriage in San Francisco four years ago. And its subsequent annulment three and a half years ago by that same Supreme Court. Hmm. I just emailed my now ex-partner Amy to ask her if we need to get a divorce. She says no.

45 Responses to “out of wedlock”

  1. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    I’m glad that Robin Tyler and Diane Olson were plaintiffs in the case that led to the California ruling. I’m glad to see that the issue of gay marriage keeps coming up over and over again. I was very bummed when the Domestic Partnership Act did not pass the New Mexico legislature last year. I’d really like to have the option to be able to marry my dear partner Ara. You bet I’ll be nervous too!

  2. Deena in OR says:

    I actually did wonder about the divorce thing. Glad to hear that the detangling is/was less complex than mine.

  3. Leda says:

    Life truly is stranger (and sweeter) than fiction…. which is why we’ll happily take just the blog during the sabbatical!

  4. Chris says:

    Akbar and Jeff. I love you.

  5. Chris says:

    (lovely colour scheme, too.)

  6. ksbel6 says:

    So what happens when a gay couple gets married in CA, but lives in MO (where gay marriage is banned by the constitution…what a sad day that was for this state)? I know many couples who were married in IA or some other state, and they get all the rights of married folks here, so would a gay couple?

  7. Cealygirl says:

    My wife and I married in Portland, OR in 2004 when, for a brief shining moment, the county allowed us our rights to marry (only to susbsequently void the whole she-bang a year later…). I am STILL trying to get my $63 dollars back for the voided marriage license!!!

  8. toadfood says:

    ksbel6 — I’m afraid not. The Defense of Marriage Act (signed by the oh-so-progressive Bill Clinton) says that states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. I don’t think anyone has brought a legal challenge yet, but I’m sure it’s coming.

  9. Larissa says:

    Pretty sure other friends (who live here in CA) will need to get re-married again to make it legal (I mean friends who married in Feb 2004)… so yeah, you’re basically safe on the divorce front. Ah, freedom to participate in every (sometimes ridiculous) American custom. (I am actually thrilled about the decision, don’t mistake)

  10. C. says:

    Toadfood – well, there’s the ongoing case of a couple who married in Massachusetts but are Rhode Island residents and wish to divorce. RI won’t hear it because they don’t recognize the MA marriage (it’s been appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, which ruled against them), and MA won’t take it because the women are not MA residents. See http://www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2007/12/08/ri_court_wont_let_gay_couple_divorce/ for the story.

  11. tas says:

    ksbel6: Unfortunately, no. I was married in Ontario, CA, and was told by companies too various to name or count that it “matters to you,” but not to the legal or business systems.

    I just wonder how many dollars are going to be spent trying to overturn the SS Court’s ruling in California. Because, you know, that tax money isn’t better spent housing the homelss or feeding the poor. Why do some people find it so much easier to hate than to love–or to at least let alone?


  12. Al et al says:

    Alison,are the family in front of you in line the McLaughlin-Farkases by any chance? That look of grim determination on the one in the wedding gown seems strangely familiar….

  13. jayinchicago says:

    Amy looks like she’s about to eat that crab.
    I wish any two people (hell, maybe more?) had the right to legally define their families.
    And this wouldn’t just be good for gay people in committed relationships–it would benefit bi people in same sex relationships and trans people basically in any relationship.
    That said, it does seem weird to me that we want to focus on that as queers–especially when many queer people worldwide lack basic civil rights. And after the whole ENDA “political expediency” debacle–it’s hard for me to get excited about same-sex marriage.

  14. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Akbar and Jeff!!! *rofl*

  15. pd says:

    I am confused. Is that Amy and Alison in the cartoon or Mo and Sydney? We know that Alison and Mo bear a certain resemblance, but that Alison’s ex looks so much like the evil Women’s Studies professor is a bit scary.

  16. June says:

    The color is gorgeous. How many artists would’ve bothered to use slightly different colors for the walls of their home, the floorboards at Fisherman’s Wharf, and the city clerk’s walls? There are echos of J.S.G. Boggs in the attention to detail in the certificate.

    I am slightly puzzled (or is it intrigued?) about the arrows in Panel 3. Do the “nevers” apply to both Alison and Amy? There are two arrows, but only one “label.” Perhaps it’s better not to know.

  17. Ann S in Madison says:

    Not trying to hijack anything, but this community is one of my favorite sets of people anywhere. So, speaking of anywhere, I will be traveling with my documentary film (mentioned from time to time by AB, http://www.hollywoodlibrarian.com) in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Munich, Geneva and various place in between from 20 May to 6 June. If anyone would like to get together for a pilsner somewhere (or if you’d care to come to a screening), especially from 27-31 May, please do get in touch with me on cleverfemme at gmail dot com.

    Hope it’s all right to post like this. Peace out.

  18. shadocat says:

    Wow, that was great. This is the first time I’ve seen this, so I was vastly entertained. And ksbel, as a sister/fellow Missourian, because if it weren’t for DOMA, my S/O and I would be on the next plane to California, tyin’ the knot. Thanks, Bubba.

  19. JoVE says:

    Actually, states don’t have to recognize any marriage from another state or nation. It is not a legal requirement but a customary one, as I understand it.

    And I’m not so sure it is that easy to disentangle yourself from an invalidated California marriage. If you were ever registered as domestic partners or had significant financial or other entanglings… Check out this article for example:

  20. Em says:

    And now Akbar and Jeff can open up a Gay Marriage Hut! (God I miss Life in Hell, I think it’s still theoretically around but I haven’t seen it anywhere in ages)
    I always love your use of ‘aside boxes’ (is there an official comics name for the arrowed boxes of descriptive text?)

    I’m thrilled for the CA decision, and as a Missourian strengthens my conviction for getting the hell out of MO soon. I’m straight and not getting married to anyone anytime soon, but the fact that not only did the ban pass but it did so by a 75% margin, oh good god it makes me wonder what the fuck is wrong with people.

  21. Mothra in NYC says:

    Wow, an AB strip in color! I love that purple/lavendar is the predominant note … the one lesbian wedding I ever sang for in NYC had purple balloons all over the place … sweet! (It was of course not technically a marriage according to the laws of New York State, but it was performed at the Park Avenue Christian Church, so presumably God approved, and who has more authority?)

    The CA decision the other day was awesome. It has been pointed out that the court were not acting as activist judges; they were merely upholding what the law of California already says about equal protection under the law. Cool, yes?


  22. Ariadne says:

    It’s great that California seems to have come to its senses at least in this matter. Washington (my state) has a “Civil Union” law, which allows same-sex couples almost the same rights as heteros, but exclusively bans having more than one “civil union.” It makes me a little sad that no matter what marriage laws pass, I could only legally wed one of my beloveds, even though the three of us have been together long enough to (again, binarily) qualify as common-law spouses.
    Also, Cealygirl, I hadn’t realized that Multnomah co. redacted it’s progressive moment of glory, I’m really sorry to hear that! (They were awfully quiet about it. Jerks.)
    Congrats to the pending nuptials to the south, let’s keep pecking away at it.

  23. Ducky Sherwood says:

    JoVE (Hi JoVE!) — I am not a lawyer, but I am pretty sure that recognizing marriages and divorces from other states is required, not merely a pleasantry. I haven’t been able to find much on the Web to support my case, but there is a discussion of Williams v. North Carolina at
    A and B snuck off to Nevada to divorce their spouses and marry each other; when they went home to North Carolina, they were arrested as bigamists. The US Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina had to honour the Nevada divorce and marriage.

    Now, the Defense of Marriage Act does rather throw a spanner into the works. If it is constitutional (which I doubt, but I am not a lawyer), then states are expressly permitted to not honour marriages.

    I would be amazed if a couple had to dissolve a revoked CA marriage. However, it *is* true that if you have a domestic partnership in California, that you *would* have to revoke that. The California Domestic Partnership, as of 2006, has the same state-level rights and responsibilities (including divorce) as marriage, just without the word. The author of the article you cite would have needed to dissolve the DP, and the state probably didn’t bother changing the form to say “Divorce or DP Dissolution”.

    My favorite husband was in a conference call yesterday with the top California marriage activists, and he said that Shannon Minter (lead counsel on the CA marriage case) advised people who have California DPs to keep them *and* to get married. Basically, some states that don’t recognize marriages do recognize DPs, go figure. See the FAQ:

    By the way, shadocat or anyone else thinking of going to California, don’t jump on the *next* plane: the court’s ruling doesn’t take effect for 30 days. June 16th is when the party starts. πŸ˜‰

  24. Ducky Sherwood says:

    BTW, I was *at* San Francisco City Hall the day the marriages started. It was an amazing experience:
    and going back on Monday was also an amazing experience:

    Although I live in Canada now, I am planning on going back to California on 16 June. (And I’m already married!) I figure that San Francisco will be having one heck of a party!

  25. chriso says:

    Akbar & Jeff FTW!!!

  26. Anonymouse says:

    Cealygirl – Multnomah County mailed us a check for our wedding license stuff less than two weeks after the marriages were overturned. I thought it was an automatic thing.

    By the way, we were on Thursday. In case that means you and we might have been standing in line together! πŸ˜‰

  27. April says:

    Nice peanuts.
    Akbar & Jeff!!!! (Is there an echo in here?)

  28. Juliet says:

    I’m thankful to you US residents for reminding me how fortunate we are in the UK sometimes.

    My country has at least enshrined some kinds of rights to same-sex couples through Civil Partnerships (it’s been 3 1/2 years and they haven’t turned it over yet). They still won’t call it ‘marriage’, even though to all intents and purposes it is. I don’t know whether I’ll ever do it myself (I did promise to marry my girlfriend in January 2017 “if we’re still talking to each other”) but every Civil Partnership I have attended has felt like a political act and it is just so exciting.

    Or it’s buying into heterosexist assumptions of romance, nuclear family and monogamy;
    Or it’s some strange desire to have your relationship recognised by the State;
    Or it’s the only way to protect yourself against our marriage-obsessed Government and their twisted next-of-kin laws;
    Or it’s just cool.

    I can’t decide.


  29. Lisa (Calico) says:

    (Echo indeed!)
    Finger Kissing! I hope they’re doing well too.

  30. ken says:

    Alison, this is one of your best. If this is a taste of your next book, then I can handle your sabbatical a little better. No one captures ambivalence, anxiety and all the emotions like you can. You are a comic genius!

  31. Grisha says:

    As a San Franciscan, let me thank AB and Amy (as well as the 4000 other couples) for the $157.00. Our municipal budget needs all the help it can get.

    Back in ’04, a friend in Russia e-mailed and asked what I thought of the marriages. I wrote back:

    The Governor says it’s illegal.

    The Archbishop says it’s a sin.

    We’re doing a marriage a minute.

    My God how the money rolls in.

    I’m looking forward to seeing more happy couples here on or about June 16.

  32. Anonymous says:

    The characters look so different in color.

  33. Straight Ally says:

    The characters are Alison and Amy, not Mo and Sydney.

    1. The strip’s subtitle is Autobiographical hijinks . . .

    2. And is the dark-haired partner wearing stripes? No! I rest my case. : )

  34. ready2agitate says:

    Me too I love this strip (and never saw it b4). Hear! Hear! re: capturing the emotions of angst & ambivalence — a real AB forte (thankfully!)

    >>I always love your use of β€˜aside boxes’ (is there an official comics name for the arrowed boxes of descriptive text?)

    I like “Arrowed boxes,” Ern. Or, maybe since the word/thought bubbles are called balloons, the *aside* boxes should be called cubes?

    Thx for pulling this one out for us, esp. since it kind of deals with a sensitive past… (although my dental floss never curls like that).

    ps I inferred that the “never” box applies to both women.

  35. ready2agitate says:

    oops – pardon my use of “cube” – those rectangular boxes would never hold up to this learned crowd!

  36. B says:

    AB: fantastic. As always. I’m much more of a lurker here, but just want to voice my support of the sabbatical. And the continuation of the blogging. Have been reading Ackerley’s memoir ‘My Father and Myself.’ Would be gorgeous to pair with ‘Fun Home.’

    Marriage question for the masses of brilliant readers/procrastinators: I’ve heard that MA is using a 1912 law banning interracial marriages to keep from performing marriages that the partners’ home state does not recognize. 1) Is this true? 2) Is CA going to do something similar?

    My partner of 7 years and I thought we might wander by City Hall sometime around/after June 16, but since she may be considered resident of a state with a ban we aren’t sure if the thing would be ‘legal’ or not.

    Ahhh, ambivalence. If I have to hear another straight relative tell me how marriage changes everything (esp. the ones who haven’t been partnered half as long as I have) I think I may run screaming for the hills. And all for an antiquated patriarchal institution with the ultimate goal of monopolizing a woman’s sexual, social, and economic productions. Peculiar.

  37. Ducky Sherwood says:

    B – While MA will not marry people from out-of-state (unless they say they are planning to move there), CA will happily marry people from out of state. Be careful, though, because there is a 6-month residency requirement to get divorced in CA.

    JoVE (Hi JoVE!) — I am not a lawyer, but I am quite certain that it’s legalities and not just politeness that requires states to recognize each others’ weddings and divorces. There was a set of cases called Williams v. North Carolina that established that pretty firmly, if I understand correctly. (Any lawyers in the house?)

    As for recognizing marriages from other countries, countries have treaties saying that they have to respect contracts carried out in other places, but there seems to be wiggle room for not respecting others’ marriage laws. See
    (This means that 13 year old Canadians can’t go to Nigeria to get married, return, and be married in Canada, for example.)

    JoVE again, it is also my understanding that the SF marriages of 2004 were completely voided. However, the author of the article you cite was in a California Domestic Partnership, and those *do* have to be voided in exactly the same way that marriages have to be voided. My bet is that they never bothered to change the language on the divorce paperwork to say “Marriage or Domestic Partnership”.

    ksbel6, the Defense of Marriage Act says explicitly that states have the right to not recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This is in direct contradiction of the Full Faith and Credit Act, so is totally ripe for a constitutional challenge. I believe that My Side has not felt comfortable in pursuing such a lawsuit while Their Side appears to control the US Supreme Court. If the court composition changes somewhat, I’d expect a lawsuit pretty shortly afterwards.

    Re colour choices: I got married in California (hetero, so still valid), and that’s the color of my marriage certificate as well. πŸ™‚

    Grisha, loved the little ditty. πŸ˜€ I plan on coming down to SF City Hall to witness all the fun on June 16! I was at SF City Hall on the day they started issuing licenses:
    I was also there on President’s Day helping out:
    and those were two of the bestest coolest funnest days of my life.

  38. Sherri says:

    There’s never been a polite way to ask this, but I’m taking this entry as an opportunity: Don’t Clarice and Tony have to go live in Vermont in order to officially dissolve their civil union? I saw that they changed their wills, but is that, that? Are Toni and Gloria now living in sin?

  39. Sherri says:

    Whoops, I can’t believe I did that to the spelling on Toni’s name. Can this blog get an “edit” function?

  40. David in Athens GA says:

    Sorry to hear about estivation, but I know what a grind putting out a good strip on a deadline can be. Fortunately, my memory is such that I can do a lot fo rereading of the books to get my fix! This strip reminds me of a huge New Yorker one panel with people talking about gay marriage at a party; one character said, “Of course I’m for gay marriage–I’m a divorce attorney.” Can’t see how it’s fair to not allow gay couples to marry when they want to. A friend of mine had to get a lawyer to do a humongous amount of work to adopt each other, protect their rights to visit each other if hospitalized, etc., to marry his partner. Of all the things that make heterosexual marriages difficult, I think gays getting married is low on the list, if on it at all.

  41. Jeffster83 says:

    That color scheme is the same for vital records in Orange County. Both my daughters’ birth certificates look like that, and although I’ve never seen the original, I would imagine our marriage license does too. I don’t recall that they say “State of California” across the top; most of them say “County of Orange”, since we keep our vital records, and issue licenses, by county. The detail is beautiful, and just think of the job AB had to do, to draw all those leaves and squiggles by hand.

  42. geogeek says:

    Re: recognition of marriage contracts from state to state: there are two different issues, civil unions or other contracts similar to marriage but with different names, and marriage itself, called such.

    You’d think that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Consitution would cover all of this, since it basically says “If you enter into a contract in one state, it’s a valid contract in all states.” However, there’s a cute little out, where it’s been determined that State 2 need not recognize State 1’s law if State 2 has a “legitimate public policy interest” that conflicts with the law of State 1 (_Nevada V. Hall_). I read through _Hall_ and am not sure I see just how far this would go, since it wasn’t really about contracts but about who can sue whom, but it’s come up in some states as they discuss whether they need to recognize civil unions or marriages.

    I think it boils down to the question of whether or not preventing same-sex marriage is a legitimate public policy interest of State 2. Sadly, our case here would be damaged by DOMA, because the US Congress established a national public policy interest.

    So, you could conclude that not recognizing same-sex marriage contracts in State 2 reflects that state’s public policy interest.

    Or, you could conclude that such public policy is fundamentally unfair, which means we get to use Full Faith and Credit.

    Which one do you think this Supreme Court would go for?

    If you look at civil unions or comparable contracts, you could make a parallel argument to the one above if State 2 has no similar type of contract. In this case you’d probably have a tougher time convincing a court of the public policy interest in preventing the contract, since it seems less scary. But if State 2 has something substantially similar, they must recognize the contract from State 1. This hasn’t been to the Supremes, but I don’t think it woudl ever get that far, this seems pretty straightforward.

    I’m sort of curious how exactly that recognition would work. Say State 1 and State 2 both have some kind of civil union, ut the rights and resposibilities of the parties are slightly different, say, with regard to custody of children. Would the law of the state in which you were “unionized” hold, or the law in the state where you reside? Would both parents be legit on State 1, and then suddenly find one of them can’t take the kids out of school in State 2?

  43. Ellen O. says:

    I’m wondering what percentage of GLB folks are in a place where they could or would want to get married to take advantage of marriage benefits. I’m thinking it’s probably 25% or less at any given time.

    Is marriage really where our political time and energy should be going?

    I’d rather see a more general “designated partners” act, one that works for straights and gay people, to allow friends and relatives to have those marriage privileges. Our tightest, longest bonds, practically and emotionally, are often not with a romantic partner.

  44. mlk says:

    I’m w/you, Ellen O. the marriage model is confining, and our relationships are too varied to fit a “one size fits all” mold. it saddens me that the GLBT community has chosen a goal that doesn’t fit for many of our own.

  45. jude says:

    Cealygirl –

    the ex and i got married in Portland – and within weeks of the closing of the window, they sent us our money back. i’d say if they kept yr money, you still married!:>