By A.J. Llewellyn
"Daddy, are we getting a divorce?"
These were the traumatized words my friend Tracy woke up to yesterday morning. His daughter Eleanna shook him awake, having heard the news on the radio that Proposition 8, the measure to ban gay marriage had passed.
Tracy opened one eye and nudged his husband Chris, beside him. They already knew the news but thought they'd done a good job of protecting Eleanna from the truth.
Chris and Tracy were one of the first couples to get married five months ago on Super Saturday, the very first day gay marriage became legal in California.
Gay or straight, it was the best wedding I ever went to. There was a glow over those marriages. Each couple lined up had waited years for the privilege of exchanging vows, the biggest smiles I noticed were on the faces of the parents and children of the brides and grooms.
In one ghastly evening, Chris and Tracy became one of the 18,000 couples whose marriages are now in jeopardy.
"No," Tracy told her firmly. "We are not getting divorced."
I blogged about Chris and Tracy's romantic background some months ago, the adoption of their little girl and their magnificent wedding this summer. On Tuesday night we watched Obama's historic speech together, stirred by the powerful tide of change...then watched, aghast as Prop 8 passed into law, albeit by a slim majority.
Chris's mother called first, sobbing from her home in San Francisco. My father called them and me from his cruise in the north seas, distressed.
"I don't want to go to school," Eleanna wept yesterday morning. "What if my friends are mean to me? What if they say we shouldn't be married? I like being married, daddy."
Half her class went to the wedding, but beyond fighting over chunks of wedding cake, gay marriage has never been an issue in her class room, despite but the proponents of Prop 8 will tell you. Now, suddenly, thanks to some shock jock on morning radio, Chris and Tracy's little girl was learning about hate, ignorance and fear.
For Eleanna, her parents' wedding was her big day, too. At the time I blogged about this beautiful day, I said that if all proponents of Prop 9 could have seen the love at all those weddings on Super Saturday, they would re-think their stand.
Chris and Tracy spent a lot of time yesterday morning, assuring their normally sunny, upbeat daughter that no matter what, her family was intact. Tracy made them all breakfast, Chris kissed his loved ones goodbye and went to work. Tracy looked out the window, watching his husband drive away. The street looked the same, the car looked the same, his neighbor waved to him as usual. Nothing had changed, yet, everything had changed.
He told me that in that moment he thought, 'What harm did we do to anybody else getting married? What harm have any of the 18,000 marriages done to anybody?'
The answer was none.
He made his daughter's lunch, Eleanna being picky about her sandwich's contents, arguing about fruit versus cup cakes - business as usual. He drove her to school and despite her trepidation, her friends greeted her the way they usually did.
"Hey, Eleanna, did your dad bake cupcakes?"
Tracy hugged his little girl goodbye, called me to see if I was up for coffee, and of course I was. Big, strong, hunky, muscular Tracy walked into my house and for the first time in the 12 years I've known this man, stood in my doorway and cried.
His concern was for his daughter, for all the children so loved by their parents who are now scrambling to cope with new legislature which as of this morning has seen same sex partners already being denied marriage licenses.
"Nobody can take your wedding day away from you," I reminded Chris, searching for some nugget of good out of the wreckage.
"True." He finally laughed. "And they can't take away all the wonderful gifts we got. I'm in love with my pasta maker...oh and the cappuccino maker. They can take back the Martha Stewart cookbooks I got with that Macy's gift card. None of her recipes work. I swear that woman leaves out one ingredient in each recipe, just to make us all feel like morons."
Tracy stopped talking. "A.J. is your kitchen tap still leaking?"
"What am I going to do with you?" He stomped up my stairs, found the nifty tool box I bought but am hopeless at actually using and searched through all the tiny plastic boxes for washers and bolts. At least, I think that's what he said.
He went outside and turned off the water mains, attacking the pipes with a wrench. He chatted with my loony old next door neighbor, who for some reason, always recognizes Tracy when she hardly remembers her own name.
"Can you fix my blinds?" she asked him. He went into her house and did his thing, walking back to my house with a murderous look on his face.
"She just told me she voted Yes on 8."
I was stunned. Chris, Tracy and I are always helping her out, taking care of her yard, fixing burnt out lights, taking garbage bins in and out, rescuing her cat from tall trees...you name it.
"She said she thought long and hard about it, but was worried about children." Tracy looked dangerously red in the face. "I told her 'What about my child?' and she said, 'Oh, she's a sweet little girl.' "
So there you have it. Democracy in action.
He picked up a screw driver and walked toward the front door.
"Where are you going now?" I asked him.
"To fix her front door. Her screws are loose."
We looked at each other and laughed.
I put on another pot coffee and thanked heaven that it's hard to keep a good man down.