words, mere lines drawn on frail paper
(and this, they say, is how history endures?)
When my partner Jeffrey died of AIDS in 1994, one of my greatest comforts was to sort through and organize a drawer full of mere lines drawn on frail paper – birthday cards, holiday greetings, anniversary remembrances, various notes I’d written, a few he’d written me.
This book was written as a marriage proposal to Charles Stephen Hughes, my domestic companion for fifteen years. I wanted him to be my husband, and I wanted to be his husband. We were granted our wish, but only for three and one-half months, before he passed away on November 15, 2013.
I’m inviting you to read this proposal because I want my declaration of love for this man to be entered into the realm of public knowledge, to be on the record, to be a publication. You see, this wasn’t the first time I’d asked him this question. His answer had always been that he’ll answer the question when the outcome can be legally recognized as a marriage. And not a marriage “equivalent”; he wanted the full force of history behind the word for our relationship. He wanted a marriage, and so did I.
My hope is that making a public declaration of what marriage meant to us as a couple will accomplish two ends. I hope that those who read these words will find the commitment I proposed worthy of the word marriage. These are words I’d written to him over the nearly fourteen years of our having lived together. I offered them to him, and now to you and to the world, as evidence that we, along with all same-sex couples who wish to commit their lives to each other, are meant and deserve to be together in a state of lawfully wedded bliss.