Back in 2008 when marriage equality had already appeared on the scene in neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut, Jack Waite, my partner of more than 25 years, and I began serious conversation about our getting married. It would have been easy to slip over into CT and "do the deed" but we decided we would rather wait until it became legal in our own state of New York.
Shortly thereafter, Jack was diagnosed with incurable and inoperable cancer. On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, a marriage equality lobby day was scheduled in Albany and I had planned to attend but Jack was deteriorating. However, he not only encouraged but insisted that I follow through with my plans to add our voice to the mix in the legislature that day. Reluctantly, I made arrangements for someone to be with him while I was away.
Upon arrival in Albany we received our information regarding the time we were to meet with out state senator. And the wait began. As we approached the scheduled time, we were informed that there had been an conflict in the scheduling and that we should have already had our time with him. Our senator made no effort to reschedule another meeting and my day away from my partner ended up being a waste of time. The worst part of that was having to return home and deliver that news to Jack. He was devastated.
His physical deterioration really began to slip the next day and on Saturday, May 2, 2009, in the very early hours of the morning just a little over three days after my return from Albany, he slipped away from me at the age of 95. Not only was I heartbroken, I was livid that I had lost the togetherness of one of the last four days of his life on a futile trip to the state capital.
In June of 2011, marriage equality came to New York. The excitement and joy were palpable in my community and a celebratory meeting was planned in the Peace Park of New Paltz, the site of the controversial marriages officiated in 2004 by mayor Jason West. I was asked to speak. Obviously, I was overjoyed at this victory for equality and I shared it with those assembled even though it was a very bittersweet moment for me.
I am an octogenarian and an ordained, former minister. One of the great joys I had during my active time in ministry was the officiating at the joining of two lives of people in love to face together whatever the future had in store for them. Now, thanks to the state of New York, I am able to once again have the privilege of joining together the lives of two loving persons. So while I didn't get to share that experience with my beloved, I now have the opportunity to experience that joy all over again. It is even sweeter this time around.