Getting married was never something I thought I would do. Despite having grown up during the profoundly conventional years of the 1950s and early 1960s, I can't recall any time in my youth when I wanted to get married. When I was twenty-three my then boyfriend suggested that, having lived together for a year or so, the next step would be to get married; without really thinking about it, I said yes, but then went into the bathroom and threw up. At the time, I had been involved in the fledgling women's liberation movement for about two weeks, and I had yet systematically to consider the ramifications of feminism for either my sexual orientation or my attitudes toward family and marriage. But my body responded for me in a way I couldn't ignore, and I didn't get married.
Over the years that followed, though I entered into two serious and fairly long-term lesbian relationships, the possibility that we should solemnize our unions with some sort of ceremony never came up. Although gay and lesbian "weddings" occasionally made an appearance in gossip or in the popular press during the 1970s and 1980s, such occasions struck me more as quirky curiosities than something that might one day have meaning in my own life. Like many other lesbians and gay men who developed a sense of political entitlement in the wake of Stonewall1 and under the influence of Second Wave feminism, I gloried in the ways that my "lifestyle" differed from that of the mainstream. From my point of view, and that of most of my friends, women's and gay liberation was, at least in part, about freeing ourselves from the negative messages and assaults on self-esteem generated by attempts to "measure up" in the eyes of straight society. This not only meant choosing persons as our sexual