The Sexist

UPDATED: Gay And Getting Married Next Week? Bring $35, Work the Security Line, and Avoid Fred Phelps

Gay and itching to get married? On March 3, 2010, same-sex couples will be legally allowed to marry apply for marriage in the District of Columbia, and the D.C. government has just issued some guidelines on how it's all going to go down. Here's how to get hitched as soon as possible [This post has been updated to reflect the latest info from D.C. Superior Court]:

* On the morning of Wed., March 3, head to D.C. Superior Court's H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse at 500 Indiana Avenue NW. The courthouse marriage bureau will open at 8:30 a.m., but couples will likely be gathering outside beforehand in order to secure their place in line. God knows at what hour the most marriage-eager couples will arrive.

* Fred Phelps' anti-gay brigade plans to show up as well to district you from your mission, but Phelps is planning on a late start, around 11 a.m. Show up early and you may only catch their protests on your way out the door. Join up with these folks if you want to participate in the counter-protest.

* Once inside, know how to get through security quickly. You'll have to take off your coat and feed all of your belongings through a metal detector. If you have a camera or recording device, you may be asked to tag it with your name and leave it at the front door. You're wasting precious time! After you get inside, head up the escalators and find the D.C. Superior Court Marriage Bureau at room #4485. UPDATE: D.C. Superior Court says that in order to accommodate the rush, applicants will be asked to line up outside 4485.

* Once inside room 4485, be prepared with the necessary documents to get hitched. Both One party to the marriage must bring proof of ID for both parties (acceptable forms include a driver's license, passport, or government-issued I.D.). You also must have also decided on an officiant for your marriage ceremony. You must list the name of the person who will be performing the marriage—acceptable officiants include D.C. judges and "anyone who is authorized by a religious organization to officiate marriages, such as a minister, priest, rabbi, imam, so long as he or she is registered with the Marriage Bureau to officiate marriages."  UPDATE: D.C. Superior court says that marriage applicants can also request a civil wedding at the courthouse with their applications, but you'll have to wait a bit longer for that—the ceremony will be scheduled at least ten business days later.

* Familiarize yourself with the application [PDF]. This version, from Dec. 2008, specifies a "Bride" and "Groom." Presumably, there will be an updated version of the application available that doesn't specify the partners' gender once same-sex marriage becomes legal in D.C. UPDATE: The court has since updated its application in gender-neutral language.

* Come with $35 cash or money order made out to “Clerk of the Court, D.C. Superior Court." Bring along an extra $10 if you want a "certified copy of the marriage certificate." If you're already registered as domestic partners in D.C., don't worry about the $35 application fee—it's waived, as long as you bring your certificate proving the partnership. UPDATE: If you want, you can also pay the fee on another day before the license is issues; you can pay anytime, you just won't get your license without the receipt.

* Ask yourself: Are you already part of a domestic partnership or civil union from another state? If so, make sure you've checked up on your state laws to see if you need to have that union dissolved before you get hitched in D.C. Are you and your partner already legally married in another state? Go home! According to the D.C. gov, "If you are part of a same-sex couple that has been legally married in another state or country . . . there is no need for you to register your marriage or domestic partnership with the city."

* Save your receipt. You'll have to come back down to court to pick up your license. UPDATE: If you can't make it to the courthouse yourself, you can also have a friend pick it up for you!

* Wait. After you file your application, you're legally required to wait three full days before a license can be issued. So if you apply for a marriage license on Wed., March 3, your license cannot legally be issued until Tues., March 9.

Photo via nerdcoregirl, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • chris

    Wait, is it just one specific day that they're letting same sex couples get married? Because that's... kind of bizarre.

  • Amanda Hess

    No. (Although that scenario does sound like a reality television show that could plausibly be in development). This is for people who want to get married on the first day possible to get hitched in D.C.

  • John Dias

    All this story is about is newly available access to a marriage license for gays. Marriage has historically been defined culturally, and only recently (since the mid-1800s in the USA) has it been defined civilly. The reason why licenses exist is to restrict something, and this was the reason why marriage licenses were implemented to begin with, which was to enforce separation based on race and mental fitness. The context was that when marriage licenses were first enacted, there were various penalties to punish socially taboo behavior. But today, no such laws exist. Single people have all the same sexual rights as married people; both groups can sleep with their sexual partner, cheat on their partner, produce and/or raise children with their partner, and live together with their partner. With the exception of granting permanent residency to foreign nationals, a marriage license in the U.S. affords no substantial legal benefits. To that end, marriage licensing is purely symbolic. Cultural conservatives support excluding gays from obtaining marriage licenses because this validates straight sexuality and the traditional family (as if these required social validation to be healthy; divorce takes a more devastating toll on families than licensing gay marriage ever will). Gays, in turn, are also really only interested in obtaining social validation for their sexuality too. After all, once a gay couple has a marriage license they can say, "If the government validates my marriage, shouldn't you? And if the government no longer stigmatizes my sexuality, shouldn't you?" Marriage licenses, for gays, are thus the means to advance a cultural agenda. Licensing gay marriage has nothing to do with "legal equality" or whatever other platitude is invoked by its supporters; rather, licenses for gay marriage are the means to a cultural and symbolic end.

    I, for one, don't appreciate being socially conditioned -- neither by the conservatives who first implemented marriage licensing nor by gay rights activists. But I can put up with it if it's merely symbolic; that's what it means to live in a free society. However, I get the feeling that once gays universally have access to marriage licenses, the next step is to sue anyone who expresses distaste for or even religious opposition to homosexuality. Like I said, the goal of the gay community is not just to obtain access to a merely symbolic license, but rather to socially condition society to the point where gay sexuality itself is accepted (not just gay marriages). Social conditioning today, lawsuits tomorrow.

  • K

    John Dias, as slowly as you can, WITHOUT references to the bible or "natural law", explain to me what is "wrong" with gay sexuality being accepted by society?

    A marriage license in America IS NOT a symbolic document. It confers legal rights that a non-married couple lacks. A married couple does not need to adopt their own children. A married couple does not need to argue and cajole emergency room nurses to allow them to visit their ill or injured spouses. A married couple does not need to go thru a lengthy and expensive process to acquire legally-binding power-of-attorney documents to speak for their spouse in case of illness or incapacity. I have to know, John, does it hurt to be so wrong all the time?

  • Reid

    What I think the biggest injustice of all is that these couples will get to continue to pay federal taxes as singles. You wanna get married, pay up like the rest of us chumps!

    But seriously, congrats.

  • Contrarian

    Fred Phelps ---- now there is one really scary misinformed dude. Most of his kids are brainwashed by him too. He is the kind of person that make you sorry to say you're Christian.

  • John Dias

    K wrote (#4):

    "explain to me what is 'wrong' with gay sexuality being accepted by society?"

    Read what I wrote; I can put up with being socially conditioned so long as my freedom is not undermined. That's "live and let live." What I don't appreciate is people who don't embrace the live-and-let-live standard, such as advocates of social conditioning.

    "A married couple does not need to go thru a lengthy and expensive process to acquire legally-binding power-of-attorney documents to speak for their spouse in case of illness or incapacity."

    I can't believe that the gay community (in pushing for gay marriage licenses) is fueled by a mere desire to avoid being inconvenienced. Straight cohabiting singles are getting along just fine, even those with families. I won't shed a tear for those whose inconveniences move them to pine for privileges exceeding those of straight cohabiting singles. No, the gay community wants gay marriage because they feel excluded, singled out, vilified, and (to use Amanda's word) "othered." I certainly wouldn't want to feel that way either, and yet I'm not trying to change public policy just to condition society to accept me or "my group." In my view, that would be manipulative, to say the least.

    "I have to know, John, does it hurt to be so wrong all the time?"

    I wouldn't know... Why don't you tell me how you deal with the pain?

  • Typical DC BS

    @Reid - That's a HUGE issue (i.e. lower taxes for being married)! It's not just legal issues, but financial issues as well.

  • Pingback: Gay Couples: Prepare to Get Hitched! - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • chris

    Uh, hey, John. I can tell you as an actual gay person that I don't want 'privileges exceeding those of straight cohabiting singles.' I want to be treated the same way.

    'No, the gay community wants gay marriage because they feel excluded, singled out, vilified, and (to use Amanda’s word) “othered.” I certainly wouldn’t want to feel that way either, and yet I’m not trying to change public policy just to condition society to accept me or “my group.”'

    Funny that you'd say that considering that you don't actually have to deal with people that treat you that way because of your sexuality.

  • Rick Rosendall

    Amanda, I am happy to note that the application you linked to is now the February 2010 version which has been revised with the gender neutral "spouse" in place of "husband" and "wife."

    As for John Dias: you are simply wrong about civil marriage being purely a symbol except for immigration matters. There are nearly 1200 federal rights and responsibilities associated with marriage, and over 200 granted by the District of Columbia. The new D.C. law won't give us the 1200 federal Rs & Rs because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act; and it is true that registered domestic partners in D.C. already enjoy virtually all the Rs & Rs of married couples that D.C. law grants. So in that sense moving up to marriage will be largely symbolic until we win at the federal level; but it's a powerful symbol. And it's more than just a symbol, because "marriage" is far more widely understood and respected than "domestic partnership" is. The latter sounds like it could be a cleaning service.

  • John Dias

    Chris wrote (#9):

    "I don’t want 'privileges exceeding those of straight cohabiting singles.' I want to be treated the same way."

    How will a marriage license guarantee that you will be treated the same way as straight married couples? A marriage license has no substantial binding power that straight cohabiting couples don't also have, or that they cannot obtain (and certainly a marriage license doesn't coerce anyone to "treat" a straight married couple the same as a gay married couple). The license is symbolic, and its value confers social legitimacy. But even if you were to obtain a marriage license as a gay person, don't think for a moment that there will be some epiphany and all of the sudden everyone will be inviting you over for dinner and celebrating gay marriages (and gay sexuality), despite the fact that these are the ultimate objectives of the gay-marriage-license movement.

    Couples that the government recognizes do have some privileges, mostly minor (such as automatic hospital visitation, inheritance rights, tax breaks); I say "minor" because many of these can also be obtained by single cohabiting couples through contracts. One major privilege is that government-recognized marriage allows a foreign national to circumvent immigration laws and live permanently in the U.S. If a single person has a lover who lives outside of the U.S., their love for each other affords them no such privilege to circumvent immigration laws.

    Face it, Chris. Gay marriage licenses are intended to mold and shape social values; there is no other compelling reason why they should exist, except for some people to shove their values into the lives and faces of others.

  • chris

    How is keeping marriage between a man and a woman not shoving someone else's values in the faces and lives of gay people, then?

    I mean, no one's saying that if gay couples get married, people aren't allowed to voice their disapproval. God forbid I shouldn't have to hear the religious right telling me that I'm responsible for hurricanes and dying soldiers simply because I exist.

  • John Dias

    Chris wrote (#12):

    "How is keeping marriage between a man and a woman not shoving someone else's values in the faces and lives of gay people, then?"

    First of all, the issue is not "keeping marriage between a man and a woman," but rather keeping licensing of marriages between a man and a woman. The definition of marriage itself varies from culture to culture. Secondly, marriage licensing itself is a phenomenon that is meant to elevate one set of people at the social expense of another. Since licensing something is designed to restrict it, and if in the modern era we abolish all restrictions, the marriage license essentially becomes meaningless, doesn't it? Who are we restricting, once the license is available to all who request it? Why not just do away with marriage licensing altogether?

    Why not, indeed? I'll tell you why... Because gays want a crack at that apple too, the opportunity to use marriage licensing to show the world that they are no longer social pariahs, sexually speaking. The trouble with such an assumption is (1) gays represent a minority of the population, and therefore the exclusivity of a license cannot stigmatize straights in the same way that it stigmatized gays, and (2) even if gays and straights were numerically at parity, there would be no one left for the license to discriminate against.

    Why have a license at all if it doesn't discriminate, if it doesn't restrict, if it doesn't stigmatize?

  • Rick Mangus


    FROM: Gay Citizens of Washington, DC

    TO: Fred Phelps and Members of His Inbread Family

    SUBJECT: March 3, 2010

    We the members of gay community bid you welcome and as a parting gift for you and members of that family of yours a life time supply of condoms. This to make sure that you and yours, do not breed anymore bigoted human stains. Have a nice stay!

  • chris

    I'm not sure I agree that a marriage license has to be denied to certain people to have any power, but even if it does... isn't that a flawed system entirely? The whole point of democracy is everybody should get the same rights, isn't it? If a law's made that's designed to deny people rights that others have access to, then doesn't it go against pretty much everything that our government's supposed to be founded on?

    And I still don't see how gay people trying to be seen as universally socially acceptable is a bad thing. Nobody's trying to force anybody that already doesn't liek tha gayz or whatever to stop talking about it. Free speech and all that, everyone can say what they want, which means, hey, so can the gay community! And if you belonged to a community of people (and through no choice of your own) that people in the media labelled as deviant, or a bunch of pedophiles, or immoral, or disease spreaders, or people-that-only-care-about-sex-and-nothing-else-and-gay-sex-is-so-GROSS-you-guys, then wouldn't you try to tell people it wasn't true and you deserve to be treated equally, too?

  • Redhead

    John - it is not an inconvenience to be disallowed from a partner's death bed. It is far more than that. What if your partner had told you his/her final wishes and the hospital and your partner's legal next of kin would not see you to allow you to voice them? It has happened to too many people. Non-married straight couples run this risk too, and it's a shame that people are so caught up in the big wedding day fantasy that they fail to think about the legal implications of not being married. Legal marriage confers legal rights on a couple. Rights that are difficult if not impossible to come by any other way. Marriage is important. It's important for gay people. It's important for straight people. It's important for families. Pretending it does not confer legal rights is to be either very disengenuous or woefully misinformed.

  • LeftSidePositive

    You know, for a "Men's Rights Advocate" John Dias seems to be amazingly insensitive to the plights of those men who do not happen to share his sexual preferences. It's so lovely to have John Dias on this blog. It shows that when people say "Men's Rights Advocate" they really mean "self-important bigoted douchebag."

    John, since WHEN is the fact that someone may belong to a group with relatively few members justification for discrimination??

    Yes, marriage licensing is incredibly important to prevent marriage from becoming "meaningless." We wouldn't want gay couples who are devoted to each other for life to destroy the sanctity of Britney Spears' 55-hour Las Vegas marriage.

    And marriage licenses are still restricted from people who are 1) already married to someone else, 2) underage, or 3) not mentally competent to enter into a contract. You know, people whom society actually has GOOD REASONS for restricting access.

  • Q!

    John has pretty much encapsulated most of what I was going to say, albeit not in Amanda's post for simply do's and don't's for March 3rd. Honestly, we've heard all the arguments for and against. We've heard the scenarios, we've understood marriage as first a religious and cultural construct that became a civil/legal one. We've heard the heterosexual celebrities making mockery of marriage. We've heard the talk of toothless feigned "equality" and of course the comparison between the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.

    But what we haven't heard is a true discourse on the long term effects of this. If marriage is ever to be a true civil institution and something that the government treats beyond symbolic level and simply for probate distribution, maybe it should be regulated. Now, some would say that's taking things back to 1800's when Blacks, Native Americans and other non-white races were not allowed to legally marry in the US. What I mean by regulation is do something that the religious community does (albeit inconsistently), and that is have husband/wife/spouse go through serious counseling first. Then, upon completion of such counseling, have an unbiased party administer some evaluation of the results and share them with the perspective couple. These results will include issues of potential risk (finances, lack of patience, etc.) and other things that the couples need to make an informed decision. Yes, that sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare (especially if DC Govt has to administer it). However, we all agree that divorce is detrimental to society. So let's make sure that whomever is getting hitched, husband/wife/spouse understands the rigors of marriage and not treat it simply as something symbolic. Since not everyone is "religious", whom else but the "civil" entity who establishes Marriage Licenses can make couples "pass the test" much like getting a Driver's license.

    Yes this sounds odd. But to respect the institution of marriage, especially in this society, we must treat it as such.

    As an aside, in many of the "death bed" scenario's I've never heard of a Hospital Administrator saying, "If I don't see your Marriage Certificate, I will not honor your visit." I've never heard of a hospital taking someone to court for perjury based on an alleged "spouse's" visitation. Yes, people get denied, but a "Power of Attorney" type of agreement for Hospital Visitation can easily resolve this no?

  • chickenbot

    Hooray for tomorrow! Hooray, hooray!

    Congratulations to all couples getting hitched in DC tomorrow--what a historic day!

  • LeftSidePositive


    As someone who actually spends a lot of time in a hospital, I can assure you that those "deathbed scenarios" are, in fact, quite common, and very painful.

    And, as another detail, marriage has been civil for longer than it has been religious:

    One of the oldest known and recorded marriage laws is discerned from Hammurabi's Code, enacted in ancient Mesopotamia (widely considered as the cradle of civilization). The legal institution of marriage and its rules and ramifications have changed over time depending on the culture or demographic of the time.


    In English common law, a marriage was a voluntary contract by a man and a woman, in which by agreement they choose to become husband and wife.[18] Edvard Westermarck proposed that "the institution of marriage has probably developed out of a primeval habit".


    For most of European history, marriage was more or less a business agreement between two families who arranged the marriages of their children. Romantic love, and even simple affection, were not considered essential.[21] Historically, the perceived necessity of marriage has been stressed.[22]
    In Ancient Greece, no specific civil ceremony was required for the creation of a marriage - only mutual agreement and the fact that the couple must regard each other as husband and wife accordingly.


    From the early Christian era (30 to 325 CE), marriage was thought of as primarily a private matter,[citation needed] with no uniform religious or other ceremony being required. However, bishop Ignatius of Antioch writing around 110 to bishop Polycarp of Smyrna exhorts, "[I]t becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust."

    So, the fact is that the church co-opted something that had been part of civil life (and continued to be, as many societies did and continue to recognize common-law marriage), and marriage is NOT inherently religious nor should it be restricted to people based on others' religious beliefs.

    Also, what business does a bureaucrat have to determine whether or not you're morally, emotionally, and economically fit to marry? That seems like a gross violation of our most basic freedoms.

    Here, Diane Savino of the New York State Senate describes this fact beautifully:

    "We in government do not determine the quality or the validity of people's relationships."

    Well said, madam, well said!

  • Michelle

    I am shocked that there are those who STILL oppose gay marriage in 2010. John is so off base it's mind boggling. To call the struggles faced by unmarried gays "inconvenient" is delusional and pathetic at best. We all know your argument comes down to this: "I am afraid of going to Hell. Therefore I am Christian. My church tells me I have to hate gays. Therefore, I hate gays and will do what I can to stop them." Worst logic ever. Take apart these hate speech arguments and look at the premises and conclusions. Strawman, anyone? Red herrings? Obviously. Go to college, kids, or you'll turn into a scary, hateful, uneducated bigot. I think we should forbid blacks to marry too. They only wanted those rights to force the rest of us to accept them socially. How unfair of them!!

  • johnny

    nice philosophy you've got there, john. 'live and let live' -- unless you're a HOMOSEXUAL, in which you're evil and everything you do is done with the intentions of 'forcing your values down everybody's throats'.

  • John Dias

    Johnny wrote (#22):

    "‘live and let live’ — unless you’re a HOMOSEXUAL, in which you’re evil and everything you do is done with the intentions of ‘forcing your values down everybody’s throats’."

    If you're not forcing your values down everybody's throats, then what exactly are you trying to do by forcing people to recognize a purely symbolic marriage license that recognizes gay marriages?