According to tradition, the seventh anniversary is the copper anniversary, but for George and me, our seventh anniversary was the paper anniversary. We celebrated today by going down to the County Clerk (inside the Beverly Hills Municipal Courthouse) and obtaining a legal marriage license. Our friends Bill and Leo, who have been together twelve years, went with us, and they got a license too. When we got there, we saw a couple of dapper elderly gentlemen at the marriage license window, which made us smile to see. And I have to say, everybody there -- the clerks, the guards, other courthouse visitors -- were full of smiles, congratulations, and well-wishes for us. The forms had been revised so they no longer say "bride" and "groom", instead they now say "party A" and "party B". It took the clerk a moment to find our application, as I didn't remember which of us I had put down for "party A", but we got that sorted. (Just for the record, George is "party A".) After that, it was just verifying all the personal info on the document, providing identification, and writing a check for the fee. Simple as that. Next month, we'll have a very small private courtroom ceremony, and then we'll be legally married.
From the State of California's legal point of view, we'll be getting married for the first time next month. From our point of view, next month we'll be simply renewing our vows for the benefit of the State, who wasn't able to attend our wedding seven years ago. Since then, our relationship has undergone various legal evolutions in status. When we got married in July 2001, we executed mutual healthcare directives and financial powers of attorney, which were later recorded. And we registered as LA County Domestic Partners. Most people aren't aware that both LA County and the State of California maintain domestic partner registries, which are separate and independent statuses, each with their own benefits. When we married in 2001, the state registry was mostly just symbolic, whereas the county registry had a few actual benefits associated with it (e.g., hospital visitation rights). In 2003, the state registry made a major advance from symbolic to substantial, and so on Valentine's Day 2003, we became registered domestic partners with the state. In 2005, the state domestic partner status was made to be substantially equivalent to marriage (including responsibility for one another's debts, required court dissolution, etc), and there was a grace period when those who had registered under the previous definition could "opt out" of the new definition. So we have a number of dates on which our relationship marked an "upgrade" in legal status, and we will have one more next month, but we will always celebrate our anniversary as the day seven years ago today when we stood before God, family and friends, and exchanged mutual vows of lifelong loving commitment.