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Lawfully Wedded Husband

How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family

Joel Derfner

Publication Year: 2013

When Joel Derfner's boyfriend proposed to him, there was nowhere in America the two could legally marry. That changed quickly, however, and before long the two were on what they expected to be a rollicking journey to married bliss. What they didn't realize was that, along the way, they would confront not just the dilemmas every couple faces on the way to the altar—what kind of ceremony would they have? what would they wear? did they have to invite Great Aunt Sophie?—but also questions about what a relationship can and can't do, the definition of marriage, and, ultimately, what makes a family.
            Add to the mix a reality show whose director forces them to keep signing and notarizing applications for a wedding license until the cameraman gets a shot she likes; a family marriage history that includes adulterers, arms smugglers, and poisoners; and discussions of civil rights, Sophocles, racism, grammar, and homemade Ouija boards—coupled with Derfner's gift for getting in his own way—and what results is a story not just of gay marriage and the American family but of what it means to be human.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-2

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pp. 3-4

What are you guys wearing tomorrow?” asked the assistant director of Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, the reality show my fiancé, Mike, and I were being filmed for in May of 2010.
“I’m wearing jeans and a nice vest,” I said, “and Mike will be in shorts and a T- shirt.”...

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1. Saying Yes

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pp. 5-25

Ibought more ornaments for the Christmas tree!” Mike called as he closed the front door behind him.
“We already have too many ornaments for the Christmas tree,” I said, not looking up from Persuasion. Louisa was about to get her concussion, and I’d be damned if I was going to interrupt...

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2. Researching Family Marriage Traditions

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pp. 26-41

In the meantime, while I figured out a way to apologize to my family in Los Angeles, I figured I ought to get Mike an engagement ring, if only so that if he went to a bar he would now be forced to expend a modicum of effort to appear available, though since his bar visits coincide with the appearances of Halley’s...

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3. Deciding on Living Arrangements

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pp. 42-67

We envision our ceremony,” I read, “as being—” “Tedious,” Mike offered.
I glowered at him. “We envision our ceremony as being—”
“Full of bitterness.”
“Sweetheart, this is the third question on the first page of the book. If you won’t even let me finish asking it, how are we ever going to plan a wedding?”...

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4. Dealing with the Legal Business

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pp. 68-91

The first same- sexers to wed in California after the state Supreme Court’s decision in favor of marriage equality, I understand, were Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, activists who had been together since 1952—fifty- six years—and the mayor of San Francisco himself performed the ceremony. I spent a lot of time...

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5. Dealing with the Legal Business, Take Two

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pp. 92-124

Take a look at this link,” said the email from my friend Sarah. “It’s a reality show looking for straight women and their gay male friends.” “Are you and your friend the real Will & Grace?!” read the website to which the link took me (I quote it verbatim). “Are you...

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6. Planning the Ceremony

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pp. 125-141

We need to have a conversation about planning the ceremony,” I said to Mike one Saturday afternoon about a month after we’d returned from Iowa.
“You keep saying that,” he said, “but then you never actually start a conversation about planning the ceremony.” This was not an animadversion I could duck, because it was true; I never actually...

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7. Taking Stock of the Relationship

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pp. 142-169

So,” said Dr. Basescu during our first meeting, “what brought you two in to see me today?”
“Well, the short version,” I said, “is that I made Mike go on a reality show and now he’s deeply resentful but we’re getting married in two months and we’ve wanted to do couples therapy for a while anyway and his individual therapist said you were terrific...

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8. Taking Care of Last-Minute Details

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pp. 170-205

One month from today, I am getting married to my boyfriend of seven years. I suspect I would feel much more nervous than I do if it weren’t for the fact that all my energy is taken up by the HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway, which is in the grand scheme of things at least as important to me as my wedding, if not more...

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9. Getting Married

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pp. 206-213

The thing that strikes me most is the silence.
I don’t know whether Rachel has read Walter Kaufmann, whose thoughts on ritual helped me understand what I wanted out of a wedding ceremony, and wants us to hear “the voice that the rest...

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10. Living Happily Ever After

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pp. 214-225

The party afterward was lovely. The sixty- odd wedding guests—some of them had taken it upon themselves to bring “plus one”s, and I could not find it in my heart to begrudge them— sat and stood around our backyard while our dogs wandered delightedly among them, Sasha playing the graceful...

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pp. 226-228

It’s October of 2012, and as Mike and I are now coming up on our two- year anniversary it seemed appropriate to tie up a few loose ends.
I did not win the HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway, even though I stayed up all night the night before the wedding writing entry cards and addressing envelopes and filled up both our neighborhood...

Appendix: A Brief and Highly Biased Legislative History of American Marriage Equality with Respect to Sexuality

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pp. 229-234


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p. 235-235

Further Reading

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pp. 246-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780299294939
E-ISBN-10: 0299294935
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299294908
Print-ISBN-10: 0299294900

Page Count: 247
Publication Year: 2013