Thursday, March 11, 2010
Well it's the day after and we wanted to share a few thoughts...
There is music in the air and the song is called Love and Justice Win! How does one breathe in the magnitude of the tectonic shift of March 9th when marriage equality was realized in a concrete and recognizable way? We are not sure but are abiding in the afterglow of our day and a historic moment we shall never forget.
We are not sure how we worked this past week. We both worked, but we were swimming upstream against the mounting momentum of getting married. We applied for the marriage certification on Tuesday, March 2nd. After the press conference outside of the Court House, we each went back to work as though it were just any ordinary day. Yet in both our work places there were constant reminders that things were about to change for the good, not only for us but also for the many. As I (Candy) walked the hallways of my Federal agency, voices from multiple directions caught me off guard with their expressions of “congratulations Mrs. Holmes, we saw you and your partner on CNN, etc.” Some didn’t know how to reference us but they felt compelled to say something to let us know we had their support. How wonderful!
As the week progressed we rested some, yet even in sleep we were still awake on so many levels. How can you really sleep when every nerve in your body and every feeling in your essence are wired to the aliveness of this kind of moment in time? Though we slept, our spirits stayed awake for certain! Awake and watching history unfold as justice wrapped its arms around us and the entire community of “us” that had previously been barred from passing through the legal gate of marriage.
Throughout the week, requests for interview after interview poured in, each one allowing yet another opportunity for us to speak our truth in love. Of course there were lots of questions regarding being African American lesbians who were not only religious but also clergy; the fullness of who we are rocked some of their worlds. We fielded questions about support from our families, our workplaces, our church, etc., and what it meant to have all these places merge. To all of it we could say with a resounding affirmation that we have received an outpouring of support and love for which we are so grateful and that it was a wonderful experience to be whole in every aspect of our lives.
Rehearsal Day was March 6th. We kept wondering how in the world it would be possible for there to be three weddings in one hour. But you know what? We were too deliriously happy and had better things to worry about, like our shoes. Hello! The HRC (Human Rights Campaign) worked from start to finish like magical servant leaders to ensure that this experience was about and stayed focused on the three couples. From being present with us at the courthouse to transforming their Equality Center into a sanctuary, they were simply amazing! Our hats are off to HRC.
Right after the rehearsal, we were interviewed by a Washington Post columnist who has been following us since Candy’s congressional testimony around same-sex partner benefits in June 2009. We had seen him again in July when Candy went to the White House to with President Obama as he signed a Presidential Memorandum to extend some benefits to the domestic partners of Federal employees. The interviewer was gracious and respectful as he asked me about the impact of marriage equality on us as a family with a Federal worker and on all those who work in the Federal Government. We so appreciated the opportunity to connect the dots regarding same-sex marriage in DC, with other issues where the struggle is not over -- DOMA, DBPO, ENDA, and DADT. His article appeared on the day of our ceremony on the Federal page.
Well, the big day finally arrived and we felt like we woke up into Christmas, to borrow a phrase from one of the other couples! Hallelujah!!! (That’s Candy’s Pentecostal side – LOL). The day started early and love showed up. Knocking at the door of our hotel suite was a gift called Monet. She is by far one of the best make up stylists in the DC area. And she worked wonders on our “not enough sleep” faces! (smile) Then love knocked at the door again in the person of our BFF -- Donna Payne, who is always there for us, walking in with our breakfast and most importantly our JAVA! Then love knocked again and it was another friend with a camera in hand ready to take photos personally for as long as we needed. Thanks so much, Kareem!
Around 8:00, we were whisked off in cars sent for us and taken to a hidden entrance into the HRC building, so as to avoid the press. What we found when we walked in was like a fantasy come true -- our friends and family waiting for us. Friends, police officers, escorts, caterers, camera folks – everyone smiling and eyes so full of that something that said – “we are with you.” What a feeling!
For almost two hours, the three couples and our attendants waited inside the green room for 10:00 to arrive. Though HRC had generously provided us with coffee, juice, water, and pastries, I think we were all too anxious to eat or drink much at all. Finally, the magic hour arrived and the first couple left to claim the sanctuary as their own. The rest of us stayed in the green room, watching each other’s ceremony on a short-circuit TV. And then our time came.
Rev. Dwayne Johnson (Pastor of MCC DC), Candy’s brother, and Donna processed in before us as the voice of Rev. David North singing one of our favorite songs -- I Love You Just the Way You Are – filled the sanctuary. Stepping arm-in-arm into the center aisle, we carried one another to where yesterday, today, and tomorrow would meet and our lives would be forever changed. As our ceremony moved too swiftly toward ending, we remember feeling a wave that lifted us. For a moment, we thought that wave was the anticipatory hope and dreams of not only me and Darlene, but of the countless people who desire equality. And then the words were spoken that now and forever will be remembered as the shot that was heard around the world – “By the authority vested in me by the District of Columbia, I now proclaim you legally married! Now no longer separate, but one.”
I think we all won on March 9th. Better yet – Love and justice won!
PS. Thanks to the management of Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse who, upon hearing that we were in the restaurant for lunch, honored us with a bottle of champagne. And thanks to the father of young lesbian who, sitting alone in the corner eating, gifted us with a round of whatever we wanted. You have just got to love our community.
The Associated Press
Associated Press (w/ photo gallery):
Associated Press - "In DC, blacks were crucial to gay marriage debate":
New York Times:
Washington Post Editorial:
All Headline News:
International Press Coverage:
Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC):
British Broadcasting Corp (BBC):
Agency French Presse (AFP):
E News Canada:
Local TV Coverage:
ABC WJLA 7:
CBS WUSA 9:
Windy City Times:
Washington City Paper:
Lez Get Real:
NBC News DC:
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
There will be quite a bit of national and international media coverage today ) for Candy and Darlene’s wedding! You can actually view all three of the ceremonies that will be conducted in the HRC Equality Center today, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. We are told that CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC will all broadcast the three ceremonies live. In addition, go to www.hrc.org for live streaming beginning at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time. Rev. Dwayne Johnson (Pastor of MCC DC) will officiate at Darlene & Candy’s ceremony, which will be the third and final one to be performed.
See video from last week.
See video of the ceremonies
Ceremonies (Video collage) - March 9th
Courthouse - March 2nd
Thursday, March 4, 2010
We are Candy Holmes and Darlene Garner. On March 3, 2010, we were one of the first couples to submit our marriage license application in response to the new marriage equality law in Washington, DC. We are sure we slept the night before, but it was a restless sleep, interrupted by the fearful thought that we would sleep through the next day! But by 6 a.m., we were awake and walking through a chilling wind and rain into the Moultrie Courthouse for one of the most important moments of our lives with an application in hand and determined to exercise our right to love and to marry.
As we waited for the office doors to open, we felt the energy of anticipation rising as more and more couples arrived. We were the sixth couple in line and only feet away from the moments we have only dreamt about. While waiting in line, we saw the most amazing thing – the diversity of our glbtq community. There were African American, white, and Asian women and men from under 30 to over 60 years old, clergy persons, Federal government workers, couples with children, couples wanting children. We are sure there was probably even more diversity than this in the fullness of the line. And so it should be, for love is not bound by race, class, or gender. Hallelujah!
The doors opened at 8:30 a.m. and our hearts leapt. We could not stop smiling though nothing had actually happened yet. But the jubilation was too much to contain. Who would have thought that two African American, Lesbian, clergy and great grandmothers would be poised to declare and honor their love in this way? We were ready and the time was now. We stepped into history after a long journey speckled with dashed hopes and disappointments because of who we love. But no more. Though the sky was as gray as our hair, rain could not spoil our parade this day. No one could take or steal away our joy. Thank God for this moment and for such a time when the essence and importance of our love can be counted.
After we completed the painless application process, the African American applications process clerk congratulated us with the widest smile this side of the sun. Hand in hand and jaws wonderfully tired from smiling, we left through the same hallway we had entered to the applause, singing, and cheers of other waiting couples. It felt like the cheers at the Super Bowl for the underdog that won. We encouraged others as we moved toward our next destination – the press. The amazing HRC field staff gathered us with the first five couples and ushered us out of the courthouse. It was a rainy morning, but joy that comes from being free stopped the rain. We stood in front of the cameras, the reporters, the protestors, and most importantly God, and shared our collective stories of our lives and why marriage was important to us.
Many questions were about our being part of the African American community. We spoke from our hearts about why the right to marry is important to us as African Americans and to all African Americans for that matter. We are not unfamiliar with the struggles for freedom, what it feels to be treated as a second-class citizen, and the pain of promises of equality going unfulfilled. We know of the barriers and beliefs that historically and even now impact our families. Like our foreparents who fought for the freedom to be who they were and to be treated as full citizens, as contemporary African American lesbians we join our voices with the chorus of those who lived and died for this day. The page of history has turned. Today we began a new chapter in our lives that allows us to enjoy the joys of love and caring and to embrace without fear the responsibility for protecting our family.
Join us and our families as we rejoice in this historic day and all that it means for us as part of the African American community and the gbltq community as a whole. In words borrowed from President Obama’s Inaugural Address, “The time has come… to carry forward that precious gift; -- that noble idea; --passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”
Metropolitan Community Church, founded in 1968, is a human-rights movement and ministry operating as a Christian denomination in 25 countries around the world. MCC has often been and continues to be one of few leading advocates for vulnerable people in places where religious orthodoxy, sexism, and homophobia can result in violence and death. MCC's promise is stated in its tagline "Tearing Down Walls. Building Up Hope." For more information about MCC visit: http://www.mccchurch.org.