By Harry Anderson
A subplot in the 1966 Broadway musical “Cabaret” concerns the doomed romance of an elderly Jewish fruit vendor and his non-Jewish landlady in early-1930s Berlin.
Their love was taboo in the anti-Semitic German culture of the day, and their marriage was against the law – even before the Nazis made it a capital crime. At one point, the man sings these words to his forbidden lover:
How the world can change.
It can change like that-
Due to one little word:
See a palace rise
From a two-room flat
Due to one little word:
And the old despair
That was often there
Suddenly ceases to be.
For you wake one day,
Look around and say:
Somebody wonderful married me.
I have thought about that a lot since Referendum 74 was approved by the voters in Washington, and same-sex marriage became legal in the state this month.
My partner Terry Bible and I have been together for 37 years. We met in 1975. Our relationship was still against the law in many states.
Those old laws were rarely enforced by then, but everybody knew they were on the books.
Even living in a big city like Los Angeles, we were cautious whom we told about having a “roommate.”
Our official status was always checked “single/never married,” our public lives were quite separate, and only those we chose to tell knew who we really were.
Prejudice, if it happened, wasn’t overt. Just whispered.
It has gotten so much better through the years.
The “stigma” that my mother worried so much about has pretty much disappeared. We have lived in diverse communities in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Dallas, and have shared our lives openly with everyone.
It’s amazing how many straight couples these days tell us how much they admire the longevity of our relationship. On our 30th anniversary in 2005, we had a church wedding at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara before 200 friends and family members.
And since we moved to Coupeville in 2009, we have enjoyed a warm reception by this very friendly, close-knit community that we love so much.
This is where we intend to spend the rest of our lives. On Dec. 6, the first day it was possible, we got a “legal” marriage license at the Island County Auditor’s office in Coupeville.
At least 10 other same-sex couples, most of whom had been together for many years just like us, were lined up, waiting for the office to open.
After the required three-day waiting period, we had a civil marriage service on Dec. 9, officiated by Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard.
So, after 37 years together, with every aspect of our lives already enter-twined, and every human being we know already aware of who we are, what difference does “legal” marriage make? A lot. It feels good knowing that Terry has all the legal protections and benefits of any other spouse in Washington.
It feels good knowing that when I am introduced as his spouse, people will automatically know we’re married.
And it feels good knowing that all the young gay men and women who come after us won’t have to share their love in the shadows or pretend to be something they’re not or tell lies about the person they love.
They’ll be able to marry that person, just like anybody else can.
Most of all, it feels complete. Somebody wonderful married me.
Thank you, Washington voters. Thank you very much.