Guest Post from Trans Woman Who Married Her Lesbian Partner Legally in Texas:
On Monday, the Rude Pundit received an email from Dani Pellett, who said she was part of an awesome story that kicks Texas law right in its homophobic ass. So he asked Dani to tell her tale of love and legal marriage, which she kindly and vividly did (with minor edits because that's what you do):
"I had once thought that getting the marriage license itself was declaring victory for marriage equality; now I’m realizing that I’ll be fighting every step of the way, over the objections of conservatives, rending their garments and gnashing their teeth. But by gods I’ll drag every last person, kicking and screaming if I have to, to acknowledge that I’m legally married.
"I’ll keep my own introduction short, but tie it into the important things for full clarity. I’m a transsexual; I was born with male parts, but my mind thinks/acts/identifies itself as female. (Science has suggested that my hypothalamus might resemble a woman’s more than a man’s, but I’m not about to have my brain dissected to prove this theory.) I identified as one of the girls back when I was in first grade. I knew enough in my youth to try and hide it, even until I was two months away from a commission in the US Air Force. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was the law then, and I knew my gender identity would be a swift and fast Section Eight. 'Integrity First' is a Core Value of the USAF, and because of it, I knew I couldn’t serve and live in the closet. So I transitioned to living female full-time and became more Liberal as George W. Bush’s first term proved to me that everything conservative/libertarian that I had believed in was either a lie or didn’t work as effective policy.
"In 2005, I met a girl, and it was pretty much love at first sight. It was awkward at first because she thought I was a cute gay boy and I thought she was a straight girl. We had a non-legally-binding commitment ceremony two years ago because we knew the law and that conservative judges would rather yell down from their bully pulpit that we can’t marry anyone because either it is a same-sex pairing or that it would appear to be on the surface. (I wonder how they would handle intersexed people who don’t fit their binary, small-minded views.)
"This year, another lesbian couple we knew (one transgender like myself, the other not) decided to get married. The law is, technically, on our side. But they were turned down by 17 judges and two Justice of the Peace offices. They were told that the District Attorney is ‘looking into it’. Naturally, that pissed me off enough to flippantly say, 'I ought to call up that DA and threaten to marry my own partner!' JJ, my partner, heard me and, agreeing with my sentiment, made me put my money where my mouth is.
"So we went to a JP court where we were told a judge would marry us, thinking that his clerks understood that the 'M' [for male] on my birth certificate meant I could marry someone with an 'F' on theirs. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo. Within minutes of us being there, all the window blinds were drawn shut, save for the occasional peek and gawking. Then a clerk swore up and down that JJ had been here before and been turned down, only to come back with a different hair color and a different partner just to ‘get one over’ on her. (One thing you should never do is call my wife 'a liar' and go so far as to suggest she just dyed her hair to commit some sort of fraud. Hell, her roots were slightly showing.) Still, we were informed that the DA ‘was onto us’ in hopes that we would simply go away and not be her problem.
"That’s when my wife pointed out that we were, in the eyes of the law, an opposite sex couple because the law only cared about how I was born. Apparently, talking slow and pointing out the letter of the law confuses them, as the clerks there said that they would only let me marry a man. I really wanted to point out that she would be violating the constitutional ‘definition’ of marriage because two penises touching makes their Baby Jesus cry. We were told we’d have to go to the JP office in downtown Dallas, and hinted that she’d happily call the police to help us leave in matching handcuffs.
"Once downtown, it was easier. We got our license, and called the nice JP clerks back to schedule our time with their judge to be married on Valentine’s Day. They tried ignoring our calls and emails, then said they penciled us in, but they were very wary about the legality of it all and wanted to know who issued it because ‘they could get in trouble as well’. After our first encounter, the judge apparently ‘politely declined’ to be ‘associated in any way with this’ and swore he sent us an email.
"A marriage license can expire if it’s not signed in time, and we started to realize that this may have been their plan if ‘make the lesbians go away’ didn’t work. We had about two weeks to get this done, and we knew we wanted it done by a judge for that extra bit of legitimacy so it couldn’t be nullified by challenging the officiant we may have had to use.
"So we had to find a new judge to marry us, and on a ticking clock. Nineteenth judge is the charm, right? We were informed there was a judge willing to do this for us, and got married the morning of Valentine’s Day. A week before, however, a local news channel reported that it would be ‘up to the judge’ to allow the marriages ‘to be sanctioned.' (Again, the law is on our side and this was merely more conservative, passive-aggressive, tantrum-throwing in an attempt to seem ‘fair and balanced’.)
"Now we just have to get the paperwork turned in and filed without any more ‘accidental snafus’ or ‘misplaced paperwork.' In the end, despite the invasive and big-government meddling of Constitutional ‘definitions’ to ban GLBT persons [from getting married] and this futile last stand that the GOP is fighting to enshrine this discrimination, I got to use legalized transphobia as my loophole to marry the woman of my dreams. Eventually we’ll have marriage equality and all their efforts will look really spiteful, but until then, two lesbian couples got legally married in Dallas."
The Rude Pundit wished Dani Pellett and JJ well, and he hoped any challenges would be over with quickly. Dani responded, "The license was accepted without any problems in downtown Dallas. The actual clerk we got it issued by and returned it to seems gay and was being very professional about it all. So here's hoping there's no challenge on it, that is, until either myself or the other trans woman decides to get her sex marker changed legally on her documents."
Perhaps we can all advocate finding subversive ways to turn hateful laws against those who created them.