On May 5, 2012, I married the love of my life, Alvaro Amador, at Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts. When our relationship began 6 years earlier, marriage equality seemed quixotic. As a result, neither of us had hoped for or expected marriage in our lives.
So why marriage? Over time, our relationship grew from dating to commitment to sharing a home and a life together. I befriended his siblings, and he mine. I laughed with his mother, and he laughed with mine. We shared our joys, learned from our arguments, overcame illnesses, and opened our home to friends and neighbors. In many ways, we had already stuck with each other through better or worse, sickness or health.
And why marriage in the church? I have been a life-long Episcopalian, and although Alvaro had been baptized in the Roman Catholic Church as an infant, he had not grown up in church. The first time Alvaro entered Trinity Church was early in our relationship for its beautiful Christmas Eve service. His mother and brother, who were visiting, joined us. A few weeks later, Alvaro asked if we could return. Delighted and a little surprised, I agreed.
“Are you going to get married in the church?!?” This was the first question asked by the first person we met at coffee hour, by the exuberant Rev. Paige Fisher. At that point, a couple of years into our relationship, we hadn’t thought of it. She caught us off-guard, but that one question, with its implicit welcome and urgent desire for us to make Trinity our spiritual home, bore fruit several years later.
While we were members of Trinity, I also maintained a close connection to the church of my childhood, the Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, Texas. All of my childhood friends, no matter where they lived, returned to Dallas to be married in the church we grew up in. In the intervening years, I had participated in weddings at Transfiguration of my closest friends, friends who were practically sisters. Alvaro and I had become godfathers to their children, who were baptized in the same font I was. It hurt to think to think that despite my lifetime with Transfiguration, our eagerness to get married, and the rector’s wish to celebrate our wedding, the bishop, who knew nothing of us, shut the door.
Unlike others who had to leave their home churches in Dallas, we were able to get married in our new home church in Boston. But what is a church wedding without close friends, parents, children, and all guests of all generations? Luckily, we didn’t find out. The grace extended by Trinity multiplied in Dallas as our friends came. And their little children. And their parents. And the rector. And a healthy host of the junior and senior wardens from the past twenty years. Easily half of the jubilant congregation that Saturday afternoon had come from Dallas, filling Trinity’s vaults equally with y’alls and alleluias!
When I reflect on our wedding day, I don’t have a second’s bitterness about the Diocese of Dallas’s refusal to allow our wedding. When Trinity said yes to us, truly welcomed us, and blessed our union, it transformed us individually, us as a couple, and our relationship to Trinity. We were blessed beyond measure that day, overwhelmed by the day’s beauty and the extent to which so many in Dallas would go to share in our joy and witness our vows. It knit us closer to Trinity, where I subsequently served in a number of ministries and the vestry.
The prayer that Alvaro and I pray is that General Convention will continue its practice of making the sacraments available to all baptized Christians. Our ability to marry in our local Episcopal church resulted in a profound outpouring of grace. It transfigured us, our guests, and hopefully to some extent, Trinity too. When you make marriage available to everyone in every church, you will make a stronger, more grace-filled church.
With deep appreciation for the priests who married us, The Rev. Patrick C Ward, The Rev. J.D. Godwin, and the congregations of Trinity Church and the Church of the Transfiguration,
Alvaro Amador and Michael Widmer