Bisbee’s First Civil Union

Well over one hundred people gathered at Central School Project (a cooperatively run art center) for Bisbee’s first civil union. It was almost legal.
When Bisbee passed the civil union law about two months ago, my friend Mark and his partner Hywel set the date: May 24th. Unfortunately, there were a few glitches that ran against state law, so a new civil union law had to be written and introduced. The new one will be passed at the City Council meeting on June 4.
But the date was set, and the couple plans to move to Vermont soon (where they can legally marry), so they went ahead with the celebration with their friends here in Bisbee.
The ceremony was held on the main floor in the broad hallway. There was live music before and during the ceremony and KBRP’s own Ryan Bruce as DJ for dance music afterwards. (KBRP is Bisbee’s low power community radio station, and Ryan is the director).

The "before" music

The “before” music

Ryan is ready to DJ.

Ryan is ready to DJ.

Ribbons and bows decorated the stairway newels, and there were simply scads of flowers.

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Alison, our local videographer, readies her equipment.

Alison, our local videographer, readies her equipment.

The “before” music stopped, and the crowd silenced. The candles at the altar (nicely decorated folding tables). The woman officiating the service asked us to rise.

Friends fill the hall.

Friends fill the hall.

Candles are lit.

Candles are lit.

Down the stairs, one at a time, attendees and the two grooms came, and they proceeded slowly up the aisle. Three groomsmen and three groomswomen. A flower girl, and a flower boy.

First groomswoman.

First groomswoman.

Flower boy.

Flower boy.

Flower girl.

Flower girl.

Mark, his hair and eyebrows freshly blue (you’ve gotta know Mark) for the ceremony, walked in near the beginning, and Hywel came last, carrying a bouquet.

Mark

Mark

Hywel

Hywel

The ceremony was short and so very sweet.

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The officiator spoke first and then Gene Connors, the man who proposed the civil union law, spoke. He read a piece of the law, after which everyone cheered, and then he read a poem. Everyone cheered again. Yes, there was cheering at this union.

Gene speaks.

Gene speaks.

Hywel spoke his vows. Mark couldn’t remember his – he was too nervous and excited. They then each repeated official vows and exchanged rings. The officiator then introduced the husbands and they hugged and kissed to clapping, cheering, and more than a few tears.

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The recessional, with Mark and Hywel leaving last, was “The Rainbow Connection” originally sung by Kermit the Frog (again, you just gotta know Mark and Hywel). It was absolutely the right song for the ceremony, and the crowd joined in the singing.
Then, of course, the food (potluck), cutting of the cake, and the bouquet tossing. The first dance.

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Part of what was wonderful to me was the number of children there. How beautiful that so many children were able to see love being celebrated, to join happily in that love, and to know that it is good and right to celebrate that love publicly.

About to have that first dance.

About to have that first dance.

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Oh, Bisbee. What a wonderful place to live, and such a wonderful time to live it.

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The day I died

He hugged me hard and long.

Mind you, this was a married man. So what prompted this somewhat reserved amigo to hug me like that? Well, it’s because I wasn’t dead.

I guess I should back up. Just over two weeks ago, my friend here at Islandia had to put her dog down. Two days later, I had to do the same, and I told her about it and we commiserated via email.

Now, when I’m in Kino, this friend and I walk each morning and on the walk we stop for a cafecita at La Ramada, a little open-air restaurant operated by my amigo Roberto. I know the whole family and part of the extended family as well.

My walking partner speaks no Spanish and Roberto speaks almost no English. Hence the problem. Mi amiga told Roberto that my dog had died. What he got was “Emilie” and “died.” He teared up.

Mi amiga thought that was a bit odd but having no way to communicate, she let it pass.

The following morning, mi amiga did her morning walk and ended up as usual at Roberto’s for her coffee. He came to her, mentioned my name, and began to weep.

This time there was a bilingual person available, and this person explained that he was really, really upset because Emilie had died.

I died? And I didn’t even know it.

She then clarified that it was my dog that had died, and he ran into his house and soon the whole family spilled out, smiling, laughing and crying for joy.

And when I showed up this morning at La Ramada, Robert hugged me hard and long, expressing over and over how glad he was I had not died.

Postscript: I wandered by there this afternoon, too, and one of Roberto’s daughters grabbed me and told me how very glad she was that I was alive. I expect I will go through this several more times as I run into the other family members.

Ah, it is so nice to be loved!