Walking Down the Aisle . . . and then Walking to the Passport Counter


Rodger StreitmatterMy partner of 28 years and I will be getting married later this month.

We’re pretty much going high gay, so to speak, with the ceremony taking place in a beautiful Episcopal church in Georgetown, followed by a reception at a historic house in downtown Washington, D.C.—the same place where Abe Lincoln used to party down!

Tom is in charge of the details, which means everything will be the definition of tasteful. The flower arrangements will include white peonies and white tulips, and the music will be by Beethoven, Handel, and some other guys with similar wild and crazy hair.

Our daughter, Kate, and our son, Matt, will walk down the aisle before us and serve as our legal witnesses, and our 5-year-old twin grandsons, Elijah and Noah, will be the ring bearers . . . though I won’t be surprised if, at the last minute, the boys team up and opt not to carry the satin pillows but, instead, balance the things on top of their heads.

Tom and I will come at the end of our little processional. After talking to our friend Peter earlier this week, though, I’ve come to realize that walking down the aisle won’t be the end of the line for us as we’ll then have to decide if we’re also going to walk to the passport counter.

Say what?

You see, Peter and Robert got married in Connecticut a couple years back. So I casually asked Peter, “The only real difference is that now you guys file joint D.C. income tax returns, right?”

An expression of defiance suddenly appeared on the face of our generally mild-mannered friend as he told the story of the events that unfolded when the couple returned to the United States after a recent trip to Europe.

Their flight arrived at the Philadelphia airport, and Peter and Robert disembarked from the plane and entered the U.S. customs area. They dutifully stood behind the yellow line, waiting their turn to step forward and approach the security officer who was checking and stamping passports.

When it was their turn, Peter and Robert presented themselves to the officer as a couple.China_Picture

“I check passports one at a time,” the officer said gruffly. “Why are you both here?”

“We’re married,” Peter said, holding out a copy of his and Robert’s marriage license. “So we’re both here because we’re a family.”

The officer glared at them. “We don’t want your kind here,” he said. “I check passports one at a time. So one of you get back behind that yellow line and wait your turn.”

“No,” Peter said, in a firm voice. “We’re a legally married couple, and that’s how we’re going to be treated.”

“No, you’re not,” the officer said. “Get back behind that line.”

Our friend and the officer stared fiercely at each other. No one blinked. They’d clearly reached an impasse.

After a few moments, another passenger joined them. “I’m an attorney,” the man announced. Then he spoke to the officer, “I suggest you think seriously about your next move. If you plan to hold onto your job, you’d best treat these two men like the married couple they are.”

By this point, the officer was scowling at all three men. His expression was one of hatred.

Muttering under his breath, he checked and stamped Peter and Robert’s passports.

The two husbands then nodded a thank you to the lawyer and moved forward to claim their baggage. They didn’t gloat and they didn’t give each other a high five, but anyone watching them could see in their stride that their dignity and their self-respect were fully intact.

In early June, Tom and I will leave for our honeymoon in Rome and along the Amalfi Coast. We’ve learned, over the years, that it’s best to travel light when we go overseas, but I guarantee you we’ll find room in our luggage for a copy of our marriage license.

By Rodger Streitmatter

*Editor’s Note: Everyone here at LGBT-Today wishes Rodger and his soon-to-be husband, Tom, the best wishes for a wonderful marriage and long and happy lives together. Just remember to take along the Viagra, Rodger!



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