“Scott, Michael, what a pleasant surprise!” Paula Denton held open the front door and accepted kisses from the young men as they entered.
“Hi, Mum. Is Dad around? We’ve got something to tell both of you,” Scott said.
“He’s in the kitchen, eating his breakfast.” She raised an eyebrow at her son. “It is only eight on a Sunday morning. You’re lucky that he’s up.”
Scott laughed. “Yeah, I know we’re early, but I couldn’t wait any longer.”
Paula’s eyes opened wide. “Don’t tell me you’ve been approved as foster parents! I didn’t think you’d hear for a while yet.”
Michael grinned and shook his head. “Nope, not that. We’re still waiting, and, to be honest, we don’t expect to be approved this year. But we both wanted to give it a go as soon as we turned twenty-five, and we think we’ll be ready to put in a stronger application next year.”
“Then what’s got both of you so excited?”
Scott waved a finger at her. “Nice try, Mum, but we want to tell you and Dad at the same time.”
Paula shrugged and then smiled at her son and his boyfriend. “Well, come on then.”
A couple of minutes later, the four were seated around the kitchen table.
Brad Denton pushed away his almost empty plate. “Okay, son. What brings you and Michael out here at this ungodly hour of the morning? I remember when you wouldn’t be out of bed on a weekend until after ten.” He grinned at Michael. “You need to work harder, if Scott’s starting to get up early.”
Paula rolled her eyes. She whispered to Michael, “It’s easier just to ignore him, but Scott always bites when his father stirs.”
Brad stared over the top of his glasses at his son. “I can still remember what it’s like at your age. You can’t tell me that you wouldn’t prefer to spend the weekend mornings in bed with Michael.”
Scott’s face was a delicate shade of pink. “Moving on, Michael and I have some news for you.”
He turned and took Michael’s hand, and the two grinned at each other for a moment.
“And?” Paula asked.
Scott’s grin was almost wider than humanly possible. “Last night, Michael took me out for dinner. Over dessert, he proposed, and I said yes. We’re getting married!”
Paula’s hands went up to cover her gaping mouth. “Oh, my god!” She grinned and leapt up to give Michael a hug. “I’m so happy for you.” She moved to her son and hugged him, too. “For both of you.”
Brad smiled at the two boys. “That’s great news. Completely unexpected, but still fantastic.” He looked thoughtful. “Are you talking about a real marriage, or just a commitment ceremony?”
Michael grinned. “A real marriage. We’re hoping for a church wedding, but we’ll take anything we can get.”
Brad nodded. “Okay, then. Paula and I will have to renew our passports. Have you decided where it’s going to be? Canada, Europe, one of those states in the USA, or is there somewhere else that’s made it legal recently that I haven’t heard of?”
Scott gently disengaged himself from his mother. “No need. We’re having the wedding right here in Melbourne.”
Brad blinked. “But I thought you said it’s going to be a real marriage. You can’t get married here — it’s against the law!”
Scott glanced at Michael, who took the hint.
“I’m not sure if you’ve met my best friend Todd. Scott and I attended his wedding last year. Anyway, he’s a lawyer and he’s found a loophole that allows us to get married, but only if we do it by the end of June.”
Paula reached over the table and picked up her husband’s breakfast plate and carried it to the sink. “End of June? That’s not far away. How can we get everything organised in time?”
Brad frowned. “Loopholes are tricky things. If your friend used it to get married, then okay, but are you sure you want to go through the hassles if someone challenges the legality? It could get quite expensive.”
Michael grinned. “Firstly, Todd didn’t need a loophole to get married — he’s straight. He pointed out the loophole to me a few weeks ago and he’s assured me that it’s all completely legal. Once he put the idea in my head, it wouldn’t go away. That’s how I ended up proposing last night.” Michael winked at Scott. “He fell off his chair and had everyone in the room staring at him while I repeated the question. He then made me the happiest man alive when he said yes. There’ll be some potential problems down the track, but nothing that Scott and I can’t handle together.”
Scott nodded. “We went through all of the issues that we could think of last night when we got home. I had never even considered the possibility of getting married until Michael proposed. He explained the details of how we can do it, and while there are some potential problems, we still want to go ahead.” He smiled at his boyfriend. “There’s only one person I want to spend the rest of my life with, and I want everyone to know it. We’ll deal with the issues when they arrive, but for now, we just want to get married.”
Paula returned to the table and sat down. “Enough about that. Brad, the boys want to get married, so we’ve got lots of planning to do. You can worry about those things in your own time. In the meantime, I’ve got some things for you to do.”
Brad rolled his eyes before grinning at the two boys. “Look out, Scott, your mother’s on a mission. I’ve been through this twice, with your brother and sister, but I never expected to go through it again. You’ll both owe me a beer before this is over.”
Scott laughed. “I’ll buy you a case.”
Paula waggled a finger. “But no getting drunk until after everything’s organised.”
The three guys chorused their agreement while grinning broadly.
Paula raised her gaze to the ceiling. “Boys!”
* * *
Father Richard Lenning was relaxing after the morning’s service when he heard a knock on his door. He wondered who it could be, since most of the congregation of his small suburban Anglican church knew that he liked to have a quiet hour afterwards, before returning to his pastoral duties. He smiled as he acknowledged that, even so, he only managed to get that hour of quiet reflection maybe once a month.
His eyebrows rose when he saw the two young men on his doorstep. “Michael, Scott, come in. Is this a social call, or is there something I can help you with?”
Michael took Scott’s hand as they entered. “We were wondering if you could… that is, if you were able to…”
Father Richard smiled as they strolled towards his study. “I’d love to help you, if I knew what it was that you wanted me to do.”
Scott blurted it out. “Will you marry us?”
Father Richard froze. His normally amiable expression became an intense stare as he glanced at the two.
Michael dropped his gaze to the faded hall carpet. “I know it’ll cause problems for you, but I really want you to do it, if you can. You’ve been there for me for years now, ever since… that time… and I can’t think of anyone else I’d want to take our vows.”
Father Richard’s smile was weak as he reflected on the events that Michael called “that time”. When Michael had been estranged from family, cut off and alone, Father Richard had been there to help pick up the pieces and put the teenager back on track. A few years later, when Michael started to bring Scott to the services, he had known that, while the scars would never go away completely, Michael had essentially recovered.
“Come along. Let’s sit down and discuss things,” Father Richard said.
The three silently entered Father Richard’s study. Ignoring the chair on the other side of the heavy oaken desk, the priest moved one of the visitor seats so that he could sit facing his guests.
Father Richard was apologetic. “I’ll be up front, Michael, Scott. I’m not sure if I can do it.”
“If you’re concerned about the legalities, a lawyer friend of mine said we can get away with it, as long as we get married before the end of June.” Michael then gave his priest a quick synopsis of the legal reasoning.
“Ah…” A smile started to play on Father Richard’s lips. “I see. I hadn’t considered that. Your friend is right, at least as far as I understand the law. I have to consider the theological implications, though, and that’s going to take me some time.”
“Yeah, I know. The archbishop isn’t exactly welcoming of homosexuals in the church,” Scott said.
Father Richard chuckled. “Don’t worry about him. If I believe that this is the right thing to do, I won’t be concerned by what the archbishop says or thinks. Can you leave it with me? I’ll ring you either tonight or tomorrow and let you know.
“I’ll say now, though, that I’m honoured that you’ve asked me, and if it is at all possible, I’d love to marry the two of you.”
* * *
Paula Denton stood, hands on hips. “Well, what did he say?”
Scott shrugged. “He said he’d get back to us.”
She threw her hands into the air. “There’s not a lot of time, boys. In case you haven’t realised it, there are only three more weekends before the end of June, and we’re going to have trouble finding a place to hold the reception, let alone the wedding, if we can’t use the church.”
Scott and Michael exchanged glances.
“We don’t need a weekend wedding, Mum. We’d be happy with a small gathering one night. It’d be great if we could invite all our friends, but it’s not really that important.”
Paula leant forward and glared her displeasure. “Not really that important? My son and his boyfriend are getting married. This is something you only intend to do once, right?” She barely waited for their agreement. “This is going to be done properly, because you’re going to want to look back on the day with fond memories for many years to come.” She snorted. “Small gathering indeed. There’ll be at least fifteen people from our side of the family, and then there’s Michael’s side.” She paused and relaxed her aggressive posture. “I know you’ve said you don’t get along with your family, but would you like to invite any of them to the wedding?”
Michael’s response was flat and cold. “No.”
Paula blinked. “No? Not even your parents?”
“My family and I aren’t speaking, and haven’t since I was nineteen. I see no reason to change that state of events.” Michael then grinned. “But I’ve certainly got some people I’m really close to. I’d like to invite them, if I can.”
Paula chuckled. “Michael, dear, it’s your wedding. Of course you can invite whoever you want. Just remember that the more we have coming, the harder it’ll be to find a place to cater for all of them. Most big places are booked out months in advance.”
“Surely not all of them,” Scott said.
“All the ones around here are. The best I could find for a large hall on a weekend was sometime in August.” Paula paused as she spotted the surprised stares from the boys. “I did some ringing around to see what’s available while you two were at church. It’s not a sin to plan ahead.”
Michael and Scott laughed. “Okay, Mum. Michael and I will try to organise a list now, so we know how many we’ll be inviting.”
* * *
“Scott, can I have a quiet word?”
Scott looked up from where he and Michael were going through invitation samples. His mother, a notorious pack rat, had saved them from his sister’s wedding and had told the two guys they needed to select the stationery that day. “Sure, Dad.”
When Michael also stood up, Brad shook his head. “Sorry, Michael, can I speak with Scott privately, please?”
Michael’s forehead wrinkled, but he nodded. “Sure. Not a problem.”
Scott let Brad lead him out to the workshop. Sensing something wasn’t quite right, Scott crossed his arms and waited.
“Scott, your mother and I both think Michael is a great guy. We’ve seen how happy the two of you are together, and we’re both very pleased for you.”
“But?” Scott challenged.
Scott’s father wouldn’t meet his eyes. “But, don’t you think you’re rushing things? You’ve been going out for what is it, two years now?”
Scott’s response was belligerent. “Two and a half. More than enough time for me to know he’s the one for me. I don’t think we’re rushing things.”
“Maybe not as far as knowing him, but we can’t help wondering if the real reason you want to do this so quickly is…”
“Is what?” Scott couldn’t see where his father was going.
“Well… we know how often Michael’s been to the Monash Medical Centre getting treatment. You’ve never explained it, and we don’t want to pry, but are you in such a mad rush because there’s something wrong? Is Michael dying?”
Scott couldn’t help himself. He started to laugh. It was a couple of minutes, while his father watched, perplexed, before he had recovered enough to speak. “No, Michael’s fine. He’s got some more treatment coming up, but it’s almost over.”
“He’s got a medical problem, though, doesn’t he?”
Scott nodded. “He’s got a chronic condition that means he’ll be on medication for as long as he lives, but it’s not going to affect his quality of life. At least we don’t expect it to. I’m there for him through all of it, though, and I’m going into the marriage with my eyes wide open. I know what he’s been through, and I know what he’s going to go through, and I’m with him all the way.” Scott smiled at his father. “Isn’t that what you promised Mum? In sickness and in health, for better and for worse, ’til death do you part?”
Brad swallowed and then nodded. “We just didn’t want to see you hurt, that’s all. If you say that Michael’s going to be okay, then that’s enough for us.”
* * *
“Todd, do you and Penny have any plans for this coming month?” Michael asked, once he and Scott had settled on the lounge suite.
Todd gave a short laugh as he sprawled in an armchair, one leg flung over the side. “We always have plans. Why, what’s up?”
Michael took Scott’s hand. “I need to know what dates you’re free, so you can be my best man at our wedding.”
Todd’s cheer had his wife running to join them.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“Michael and Scott are getting married!” Todd was grinning broadly.
“And I’d like Todd to be my best man,” Michael added.
Penny smiled. “I assume that means you’re taking advantage of that loophole Todd found?”
Michael nodded. “But we’re not giving out the details to too many people. I want it kept quiet, so Scott and I can just concentrate on being a couple. We don’t want to be something special; we just want to be Michael and Scott.”
Scott elbowed his boyfriend. “What about being Scott and Michael?”
Michael laughed and kissed Scott. “Whatever.”
Todd jumped up. “This calls for a celebration. I’ll be right back.”
He raced out of the room, giving Penny the opportunity to take his seat. “When’s the date?” Penny asked.
“We’re not sure yet. We’re waiting to find out if we can have a church wedding, and then work out dates from there. We think it’ll be mid-week, though. Scott’s mum has already informed us that there are only three weekends between now and the end of June.”
Penny reached forward to pat Michael on the arm. “Don’t worry. You set a date, and Todd and I will be there. We’ll take time off work if we need to.”
“I certainly hope you can make it, because I really want Todd to be my best man. Though he never said if he would do it when I asked.”
Todd reappeared, slowly easing the cork from a bottle. “Of course I’ll do it! I’m offended that you would think otherwise. Penny, can you get some champagne flutes?”
“Sure. We’ll use the good ones we got for our wedding — it seems appropriate.”
She got up and headed out of the room. Todd took advantage of her absence to reclaim the armchair.
“You don’t have to go to any special trouble for us,” Scott protested.
Todd chuckled. “No problem at all. We like to use our good stuff from time to time, and this is a great excuse. We bought a case of sparkling wine the last time we were in the Yarra Valley, and you’re providing a reason to drink some more. The bottle’s not cold, but I don’t think anyone will really care.”
Penny returned with four crystal flutes, which she placed at the far end of the coffee table, near where Scott and Michael were sitting.
Todd popped the cork and then stood up to pour the frothing liquid into the glasses, allowing Penny to steal his seat. Todd handed the first two flutes to Michael and Scott, and then gave the third to Penny.
He raised the fourth. “To Michael and Scott. Congratulations and welcome to your impending doom, also known as the institution of marriage.”
Michael and Scott laughed. “Thanks, Todd,” Michael said after taking a sip.
Penny frowned. “This isn’t cold. Todd, why didn’t you use the one from the back of the fridge?”
Todd looked blank. “There’s one in the fridge? I didn’t see it.”
Penny rolled her eyes. “I’ll be right back.”
Todd took the seat as soon as she was gone. “I hope you guys don’t mind drinking two bottles with us. Once they’re open, we really should finish them off.” He winked.
Penny returned with the cold bottle, which she placed on the table. “Todd can open it when we’ve finished our current glasses.” She then sat on Todd’s lap and resumed sipping from her glass.
After a minute of small talk, Todd asked Scott, “Who’s going to be your best man?”
“I rang my brother Keith this afternoon. He and his wife will drive down from Seymour for the wedding, leaving the kids with her sister. He said he’d also come down next weekend to help with the planning, too.”
“Can you give me his number?” Todd asked. “We’ll have some things we’ll need to work out.”
Michael caught a playful twinkle in Todd’s expression. “Such as?”
“Such as who does the best man’s speech, who handles the rings — you are getting rings, aren’t you? — and, of course, we need to compare notes as to what you two did to us on our buck’s nights.”
Michael gulped. “You wouldn’t, would you?”
Todd gave him an evil grin. “Wait and see.”
* * *
“Mum, it’s Scott. I’ve just heard back from Father Richard; he’s happy to do the wedding. I got some dates from him and then rang Michael at work. We’ve picked Thursday, June twenty-fifth as our preferred date. How does that sound to you?”
Paula Denton grinned at the rushed voice that was coming down the phone line. “That sounds perfect, dear. Did he say if we can use the church hall for the reception?”
“He said we can, but we’ll have to be cleaned up and out of there by eight, because one of the church groups will be using it. Michael and I are thinking of having a morning wedding, and then lunch in the hall. That way no one will be rushed.”
“Good idea. I’ll get the catering organised. Now that we’ve got a date, it’s full steam ahead. Would you like me to ring Keith to let him know, so he can organise some leave?”
“Thanks, Mum. I’d really appreciate that. I’ve got to let my boss know, too.”
* * *
“Getting nervous?” Todd asked while he ran on the treadmill.
Michael slowed down on the exercise bike to respond. “Nervous? Why should I be nervous?”
Todd looked thoughtful. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because you’re getting married next week? Assuming you survive the buck’s night, of course.”
“About that. You know there are some things you can’t do. Promise me you’ll keep things under control.”
Todd started whistling while he jogged.
Michael stopped pedalling. “Todd. Promise me, please. You know I can’t handle some things.”
Todd stepped onto the side of the treadmill and looked across at his good friend. “Yeah, I know. I can promise you that things won’t go that far — I’ll make sure of that. And I’ll make sure some of the others know that, too.” He held up a hand to forestall Michael’s objections. “Without telling them why.”
“Thanks, mate.” Michael started pedalling again.
“By the way, I don’t suppose I could borrow your passport?”
“Yeah. They won’t let me book the flight without one.”
“Nothing. Forget I mentioned it.”
Todd started whistling again.
* * *
Father Richard answered the phone. “St. Stephen’s.”
“Richard, it’s Andrew. Have you got a minute?”
Richard grinned. Andrew was an old friend of his, and a fellow priest. “Sure. How’s things? Enjoying the new job?”
“Generally, though doing the running around for the bishop can be tiring at times. You have no idea how many issues that man has to deal with on a daily basis, and I’m only seeing some of it. I don’t know how he does it.”
“There’s a reason I’m very happy being a parish priest, Andrew. I’m not big on fine-level theological arguments, playing politics, or dealing with the media. I’ve got my flock and I’m very happy tending them. Though it can be very depressing — one of my parishioners isn’t expected to make it through to next week. I’ve been visiting her at the nursing home twice a day for the last two weeks. I know God is calling her home, but it’s still painful to watch what she’s going through.”
“Yeah, I know the feeling. That’s part of the reason why I felt that God was calling me to do something different. When the opportunity to work with the bishop came up, I jumped at the chance.”
“I’m glad you like the work, Andrew. I always thought you were much more suited for the higher-thinking roles in the church, not the day-to-day stuff.”
Andrew laughed. “You mean that I don’t have the right amount of compassion required for that very important day-to-day stuff?”
“I never said that.”
“No, but you’re right. I tried, but that’s not where my talents lie. Most people aren’t interested in the fine-detail nuances of theological debate, but I love that stuff. However, unfortunately, this isn’t a social call.”
Richard nodded. He had suspected that, as soon as he’d known who was ringing. “How can I help you?”
“I’ve been informed that you are planning on performing a same-sex wedding next week. Is that correct?”
“I’ll be performing a wedding, yes, between two members of my congregation, Scott Denton and Michael Wilson. Is that the one you mean?”
“Yes, it is. You know that’s not allowed, Richard. Not only is it explicitly against the rulings of the archbishop, but it’s against the laws of Australia, too. What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m offering pastoral care to my parishioners, which is part of my job. I’ve known Michael for six years now, and Scott for three. They show up almost every Sunday and take an active part in the church. I gave it a lot of thought and prayer when they asked me to marry them, and I’m not taking this action lightly.”
Richard could hear the heavy sigh over the phone. “I don’t understand you, Richard, but the news has gone all the way up to the archbishop, who, I’ve been told, wasn’t impressed. He rang the bishop and I’ve been asked to pass on an explicit instruction from them to you. Actually, I volunteered to pass on the instruction, because I thought it would be easier for you if a friend did so, rather than a stranger.”
“We’re all children of God, Andrew. It wouldn’t matter who rang me. What’s the instruction?”
“You are not — repeat, not — to marry those two guys next week, or any other time. If you do, you are likely to face a disciplinary hearing. Do you understand?”
There was a short pause. “And will you comply?”
Richard played out the game. “How can you ask that?”
“Because there’s a big difference between understanding an instruction and complying with an instruction, as we both know from when we roomed together during college.”
Richard chuckled at the reminder. “True, very true.”
Richard took a deep breath. “Okay, Andrew. I have heard and understood the instruction. I will not perform a same-sex marriage next week or any other time, without permission from the archbishop.”
Richard laughed. “You know, you should have been a lawyer, Andrew. Okay, without explicit permission from the archbishop.”
“Thank you, Richard. Hopefully, this will all blow over now and no action will be required.”
They chatted for a few minutes longer before Andrew hung up, saying he had other calls to make on behalf of the bishop.
Richard sat and thought for a few minutes, and then picked up the phone. “Carol? It’s Father Richard. I just wanted to confirm that you’ll be available to play the organ at the wedding next Thursday.”
Richard rolled his eyes at the organist’s long-winded response. “Yes, I know Simon usually does the weddings, but he didn’t want to do this one. You know why, but I wanted to check that you were okay with doing it.”
Richard listened for a moment and then grinned. “Thank you, Carol. I’m sure Scott and Michael will really appreciate that you’re doing this for them. Bye for now!”
* * *
“Okay, you bastards, what happens next?” Scott asked, as he blinked a few times, trying to turn two Keiths into one.
“What do you mean, oh little brother of mine?” Keith leant against a telephone pole while he pulled his jacket in close. It was a cold night, though the rain had held off.
“Dinner’s been great, and you’ve managed to get both of us drunk, so what happens next?” The brisk air, after the warm restaurant, was helping to sober Scott up, though it had almost two bottles of wine to defeat.
One of the other buck’s night partygoers, who was also drunk, spoke first. “Strippers!”
Todd chuckled. “Sorry, Brett, but I don’t think either Michael or Scott share our taste in strippers. Maybe another time.”
Keith ignored the byplay. “What’s your preference?”
Scott swayed as he viewed his brother with suspicion. “Are you setting me up for something?”
Keith laughed. He glanced at Todd. “He’s a suspicious little bugger, isn’t he?”
Todd grinned. “That may be my fault. I’ve been talking about sending them overseas – one to New Zealand and the other to South Africa. I don’t think they trust me anymore.”
Keith turned his attention back to Scott. “Seriously, what would you like to do now?”
Scott tried to work out the trick that was coming, but his brain wasn’t operating properly. “Either a pub or a coffee shop, probably a coffee shop.”
Keith looked around. “I think there was an all night cafe near here somewhere, at least the last time I was in this part of town. Let’s go see if we can find it.”
Scott glanced at Michael as they followed Keith down the street. “Are we being set up?”
Michael peered drunkenly at Todd, then Keith. “I don’t think so. I think it’s what it looks like. We’re just a bunch of guys having a good night out. Something we thoroughly deserve after the last few weeks getting ready. Just ignore Todd.”
“Ignore me? I’m crushed!” Todd dramatically clutched his chest. “Heartbroken!”
Michael staggered over and grabbed hold of Todd to maintain his balance. He then kissed him.
“Er… yuck!” Todd wiped his face with the back of his sleeve. “Why the fuck did you do that?”
“Because I love you,” Michael said seriously. “Almost as much as I love Scott.”
Michael tried to kiss him again, but Todd held him at arm’s length. “I think you might be drunk, Michael.”
Michael laughed. “And whose fault is that? Scott, help me.”
Scott smiled and then staggered towards Todd, lips puckered for a kiss.
Todd backed away. “You two are made for each other. Leave me out of it!”
Scott and Michael grinned and then kissed each other. A few of the guys were wolf whistling by the time they finished. Arm in arm with his soon-to-be husband, Michael winked at Todd. “Now that’s how you kiss a guy.”
* * *
Father Richard frowned for a moment. He had spotted his friend, Archdeacon Andrew Smith, slipping into the back pew of the church. There could only be one reason for him to be there.
Putting that concern out of his mind, Father Richard stepped forward. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the wedding of these two fine young people…”
While he concentrated on the two nervous men in front of him, Father Richard kept a wary eye on Andrew. He was hoping that he was only there to observe, not disrupt, the wedding.
After getting past the formality of asking if anyone objected, Father Richard started to mentally relax. The lightning would fall upon him, not the two young men, and that was the way he wanted it. They didn’t deserve to have their day ruined.
“Do you, Scott Gregory Denton, take Michael as your lawfully wedded partner? To have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others from this day forward, until death do you part?”
Scott’s voice was loud and clear. “I do.”
“And do you, Michael John Wilson, take Scott as your lawfully wedded partner? To have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others from this day forward, until death do you part?”
Michael’s voice was weaker than Scott’s, but there was no doubt as to the resolution. “I do.”
“Then, by the power vested in me by the State of Victoria, and under the majesty of our Father in Heaven, I now pronounce you married.” There was a short pause. “Do you really need instructions for the next part?”
While their friends and family chuckled, Scott and Michael kissed.
* * *
Father Richard looked up at the knock on his study door. “Come in!”
Archdeacon Andrew entered the small room. Father Richard rose and waved his old friend towards the empty chairs on the other side of the desk. “Andrew, have a seat. How can I help you? Would you like a tea or coffee?”
Andrew scowled. “I won’t be staying, Richard. You know why I’m here. I have to say that I’m very disappointed with you. You’ve disobeyed a direct instruction from the bishop and conducted a wedding that’s against church teachings, as well as being illegal. It is my sad duty, as the representative of the bishop, to inform you that you’ll be facing a disciplinary hearing as a consequence. I can’t help you with this one — you’ve gone too far.”
Richard smiled. “I will be more than happy to attend such a hearing, and to explain my actions. I’m confident that what I’ve done is both legally and theologically sound. However, I understand you’ve got a job to do, and I don’t expect you to make any exceptions for me because of our personal friendship.”
Andrew relaxed his stern expression. “Why did you do it? We’ve known each other for years, and while we’re on opposite sides on this topic, I can’t believe you would do something so blatant!”
Richard shook his head. “I’d prefer to discuss this at the hearing. Just trust me, please. Believe me when I say that I prayed long and hard before deciding to do what I did. I believe I’m in the right, and the Lord wanted me to marry those two.”
Andrew sighed. “I’d like to trust you, but I don’t see how you’ll get out of this mess you’ve made. Sorry, Richard, but I really can’t.”
After a couple of minutes of stilted pleasantries, Andrew let himself out.
Richard smiled and opened the top right-hand drawer. From it, he pulled three pieces of paper that he then placed, side by side, on the top of the desk. The first two were copies of the birth certificates of the young people he had married earlier that day:
Scott Gregory Denton, male, born 8th March, 1984.
Michelle Jane Wilson, female, born 17th December, 1983.
The last was a copy of the deed poll where Michelle had legally changed her name to Michael John Wilson.
Richard checked his diary to make sure that he had July 2nd marked. He had been there, supporting Michelle, when she’d started the process three years prior, and he wanted to be there, still showing his support, when Michael came out of gender realignment surgery for the last time and legally became a male.
Copyright Notice - Copyright © September 2009 by Graeme .
The author copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form — physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise — without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.
Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.
I would like to thank Ray, C James, and also everyone from The Mail Crew for the advice they have given me on this story.
I would also like to thank Rain from The Mail Crew for editing this story for me. I can thoroughly recommend their website to all teenagers who are gay, lesbian, bi or not sure.
This story first appeared in the Gay Authors 2009 Fall Anthology.