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    Newlyweds Share What It Feels Like to be Legally Married

    reverendThis summer on July 25, I had the joy of marrying two young women from North Dakota. Amy White and Jessica Weisz got married at the Bodega Bay Lodge on a gorgeous sunny day with the bay and wispy fog off in the distance.

    Their joy was palpable as they were finally able to marry one another after loving and living together in a state that still seems pretty far from marriage equality. They chose to come to California, where Amy had grown up in Healdsburg. They selected Bodega Bay, in particular, because Amy’s family used to come every summer to be cool by the Pacific Ocean. (Well, they were all probably “cool” anyway, but you know what I mean!)

    Amy and Jess told me that North Dakota was the last state to receive, finally, a legal challenge to its antiquated and discriminatory laws against marriage equality. They hope for, and support, the coming of marriage equality in their home state soon, but are glad they didn’t wait around any longer.

    I recently re-connected with them.

    Rev Elizabeth River: You and Amy lived together before you got married, so how has your marriage changed things?

    Jessica Weisz: Before marriage you are living as two separate people, and after marriage you become one. I say there is no difference because, as a couple, when you make the commitment to take those vows you are making that commitment for life from that moment on. So, for me, there is no difference between now and then. We were already “one.”

    Rev Elizabeth River: But do you feel more committed than you did before?

    Jessica Weisz: We both agree on this one. Our commitment to each other hasn’t changed; we are still as committed now as we were before. What has changed is how real that commitment became. Marriage for us didn’t seem a possibility and now it is, so that aspect of it became more real.

    Rev Elizabeth River: Do you still hope for legal marriage in North Dakota? Do you have friends who hope to marry in their home state?

    Jessica Weisz: Yes, we hope that North Dakota will change its laws. I think that people should be left to do what they will in their personal lives as long as no harm is coming to anyone else. Love/marriage should not be in the hands of the courts to decide. People need to learn to mind their own business and allow everyone in this country the same rights they are afforded.

    Rev Elizabeth River: Right on, Amy and Jess!

    Jessica Weisz: We do know other gay couples who talk about marriage and, until recently, it was never a possibility to get married here. Now you can see that twinkle of happiness for them. Some have gone to other states as we chose too as well.

    Amy White: I was offered a chance for us to be the first (LGBT) marriage in North Dakota. I am from the Turtle Mountain tribe and a lady contacted my mother from there and asked if we’d be the first to get married in North Dakota and on a reservation. But, she stated that there is no legal precedence on the reservation. We didn’t know how that would have affected us, so we chose to go to California. Also, it was a dream of mine to go back to where I grew up.

    Rev. Elizabeth River is an ordained Interfaith Minister based in the North Bay. For more information, please visit www.marincoastweddings.com