Civil Unions (the ugly-stepsister to Marriage) are legal in Colorado now by virtue of a new law that goes into effect May 1 of this year. And, while I’d prefer if we didn’t split hairs over “traditional marriage” and “gay marriage,” I consider this an encouraging step in the right direction for humanity.

158672931The other day, my roommate from college and I got to talking about civil unions. Ryan’s been in a monogamous LTR with his boyfriend for seven years now, which is a year longer than Ben and I have been plotting each other’s deaths. Ryan and his beau live in a bustling old river city smack-dab-in-the-middle of the great Midwest, a thick block of unrelentingly red landlocked states known for delicious things like toasted ravioli and full-fat cheese. Sadly, the ideologies that shape the Midwest are less savory than the foods. Which means a legal declaration of Ryan’s queer love is likely a ways off.

During our chat, I was all, “It must be difficult to stay together for the long-haul when there’s nothing forcing you to make it work during the rough patches.”

Ryan was like, “Actually, I think it’s easier to stay together when the only thing keeping us together is love.”

If Ryan and his partner get fed up, they can part ways without the legal hoopla. Ryan wouldn’t have to go to court or spend money dividing his assets or change his name back to whatever it was before he was legally synthesized. The only thing keeping this pair together is pure, beautiful love. I picture it looking a little like a trickling blue stream meandering through Chautauqua on a crisp fall day.

dv087008aMy husband and I have love, too. But ours hasn’t been peacefully meandering lately. We just made it through a rough patch – one that made us question our commitment. When we talked about longevity, we talked about our kids first, our legal obligations second. Then, we talked about love (which, at the time, probably looked like the disgusting clumped ash stuck to a fireplace after the embers die).

Love is important. Legal marriage doesn’t dictate love.

Yet, there’s something special about making a promise – declaring a love – in front of family and friends and, perhaps, God too. When we got married, the minister asked the whole congregation to verbally agree to support us through our marriage. Not one of those assholes has ever come over to mediate a fight or help through rocky times, but the public promise was meaningful nonetheless.

Legal marriage doesn’t dictate love, true. But, love (pure, beautiful love) is manifested and cultivated through the ups and downs of a life-long marriage (or civil union, or whatever).