In mid May we did all the paperwork – and that means ALL the paperwork – to apply for our Marriage License in Canada.
In fairness, the paperwork's not huge and nor is it particularly onerous. But for a control freak like me it's nerve wracking to fill in papers, pop them in the mail and send them to the other side of the world. I want to fill them in, hand deliver them, check that they get there, check that they're all correct and then hand deliver them to the next stop. I don't want to trust my papers to anyone but me.
But that was never going to be possible for our wedding ceremony in Toronto. So, in late May, we filled in the paper work to go to Bruce the lawyer. He needs to write a statement recommending that Amy's divorce be recognised in Canada. He needed picture ID -so we sent copies of our passports and drivers’ licenses – and an original – which means with the actual seal stuck to it – of Amy's divorce papers.
So we filled in the paperwork, and off we went to the Geelong Police Station. It all needed to be certified by a Justice of the Peace, and there's a JP who sits in the foyer of the police station every morning for a few hours and signs stuff.
He's a funny wee man. Turns out that he's a retired magistrate, and he takes this business very very seriously. As we'd decided to take care of a lot of stuff in the one go, we had a pile for him. As well as all of paperwork for Canada, we weren't happy traveling without our wills sorted out, and financial, legal and medical powers of attorney in place. So we had all the paperwork for those as well.
Lots of folks seem to think that there's little, if any, difference for me and Amy. I like to think that's because they don't see any difference between us, and their other friends who are married. They don't make any exceptions, they don't treat us any differently – and they don't run up against the legal system. On a day to day basis, things aren’t much different. But there are a whole heap of differences that come into play the moment that anything untoward – like illness – happens.
See – the stupid thing about all this is that we wouldn't need to do this if we were straight, if one of us was a man. Medical Guardianship takes care of the hospital thing. If either of us gets sick, or has an accident, we'd want the other to be making the decisions for us. Legally, at present (without the medical guardianship) the folks who'd make those decisions for me would be my adoptive family, the Howards. That's right – the folks who told me not to bother to contact them anymore over 10 years ago, and who carried through on that – would be the people making the decisions. Not Amy. As well as that, they'd also be the folks who would control my assets. Things like our home. They could block Amy out if they wished to. Any hospital that I was in could prevent Amy from seeing me or being involved in my care. They could toss Amy out of our home, and sell it out from under her.
So, we had all of that paperwork as well. Applications to have Amy's divorce recognised, so that we could get a Letter of Authorisation, and with that get a Marriage License, two wills, and four separate powers of attorney – one medical and one financial/legal for each of us.
The JP hadn’t seen the paperwork that Canada requires before, and being a fellow who takes it all very seriously, he went through it all very carefully. And being an elderly fellow, of a different generation so to speak, the application for marriage license paperwork certainly raised his eyebrows. To his credit, he didn’t raise them too far, and gave barely a pause as he plied his way through our paperwork. Amy chatted with him while we got the whole lot done – seems he spends a lot of time in aged care facilities sorting out various powers of attorney for old folks and their families.
Anyhow, in the end we got it all done. All signed and sealed – well, signed and stamped.
Then it was off to the post office. This is where my control freak bit got really freaky. I’d looked at courier companies – FedEx, DHL, and the like – but there were no guarantees of secure delivery there. So I sent it International Express – cheaper and safer than anything else I could find.
And then I waited.
And waited some more.
I sent an email to Bruce to let him know that everything was on its way to him. He emailed back that it hadn’t arrived at his end.
I waited some more.
I considered getting another set of papers together, traveling to Richmond in Virginia to get another sealed copy of Amy’s divorce papers and then traveling to Toronto to hand it all to Bruce in person and cursed that I didn’t do that in the first place. I checked out airfares.
And then Bruce emailed. It arrived. As far as he could see, everything looked in order. A few days later, a letter arrived in the mail from Bruce advising us that everything appeared to be in order, and that he’d forwarded it all to the Canadian Registrar General so that a Letter of Authorisation can be issued and we can get a Marriage License.
Now we wait again to hear from Bruce. He’ll let us know when the Letter of Authorisation arrives – we’ve asked that it be sent to his office. From there, we pick it up when we get to Toronto, take it to the City Hall and get a Marriage License. With our Marriage License we can get married.
And then, in five – and maybe six if California manages to hold its ground – places in the world we won’t have to worry about all the powers of attorney, and medical guardianship papers.
Where the spiritual and emotional commitment that we’re making to each other out of a deep and abiding love is recognised and valued.