Brian Feldman put up an event page on Facebook announcing that he would marry any woman who showed up to the Orange County Courthouse at 3PM on February 8th to get a marriage license with him. They would then have to wait three days before officially tying the knot in a small room in the marriage license office. Brian said this arbitrary marriage would point out the insanity of a state system that will allow total strangers to get married as long as they are of the opposite sex, while denying marriage to same-sex partners who have been together in a loving relationship for 20 years.
When I arrived at the courthouse, Amanda Chadwick was there waiting for Jeremy Seghers. Jeremy arrived and then a Central Florida News 13 cameraman. We spoke with the cameraman for a while and he told us his first marriage had been a mistake. He said the last nine years of that marriage had felt like he was living with a roommate. Jeremy called Brian to see where he was and he said, "only a few blocks away." Brian did not have the cash for the marriage license so he was thinking of calling the project off. Jeremy immediately said he would pay the $93.50 for the marriage license, and that he had better show up! When Brian arrived, the news cameraman interviewed him for a while, before we all made our way through security and up to the third floor.
The hallway and inside of the marriage license office was packed full of people. I wedged myself into a corner and started sketching the marriage license counters, figuring I would catch Brian and his future bride when they finished their paperwork. Three woman stood in front of me with every intention of marrying Brian. Julie Norris, a talk show host for Front Porch Radio, with her 5 month old baby strapped to her chest; Hannah Miller, a puppeteer at Pinocchio's Marionette Theater; and a third woman, Mary Ann Marks, who had heard about the wedding in the newspaper, holding a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Brian. I picked out a delicious round chocolate with caramel inside, after Brian offered them to the crowd. Elizabeth Maupin, the theater critic for the Orlando Sentinel, was also on hand to watch the license signing. She has known Brian since he was a child performer and has always had an interest in his career.
Brian purchased a bottle of Aquafina from the vending machine in the office and then proposed throwing the bottle over his shoulder, having the women catch it like a bouquet. Julie protested, however, thinking her child might get hit in the head. Someone in the crowd suggested he spin the bottle instead, and after a moment's hesitation, he agreed. The bottle spun about four times on the carpet before settling on Hannah Miller.
After completing the paperwork, the couple sat in a waiting area, while the county workers filed and stamped all the necessary documents. Hannah called her father to tell him the good news. There were three video cameras on her the whole time as she spoke to him on the speaker phone. He took the news well saying he just wanted her to be happy. When he addressed Brian he called him "son." Brian fielded several interviews. The couple really didn't talk much.
In a Facebook note, here is what Hannah Miller said about the event...
Why I'm Getting Married To Someone I Don't Love
We're doing it for love... just not ours.
I believe in marriage.
I believe that marriage is a public way to declare the very personal commitment that two people make to one another; to proclaim that their hearts are so incomplete without the other that they must legally bind their property and lives to ensure the union's safety.
I believe that denying same-sex couples the same 1,000+ rights given to couples of opposing genders that choose to marry is tantamount to declaring that GLBT relationships are not valid--or, at the very least, not AS valid as heterosexual relationships. I believe that marriage equality ensures the health and happiness not only of same-sex partners, but also their families. I believe that the denial of marriage rights to GLBT individuals is a denial of the elemental protections the State and Federal government should provide to all individuals, regardless of race, gender, religion, or any other arbitrary defining factor, like sexual orientation.
I am marrying Brian Feldman, a man I don't love, because I BELIEVE.
I hope you believe too.
Please come to our wedding, 3pm at the Orange County Courthouse in downtown Orlando. And please show how MUCH you believe with careful voting choices, letters declaring your beliefs to your State and Federal representatives, and generous donations to a pro-marriage-equality organization such as Brian's favorites, below:
Human Rights Campaign
P.S. When Hannah Miller got back to her car, she found a $28 parking ticket since the meter had just run out. The costs of getting married just keep climbing!