Gay Couple Feels Pressured To Marry

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Gay Couple Feels Pressured To Marry

DEDHAM, MA—Ever since last month, when Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex weddings, parents, friends, and coworkers have been pressuring Kristin Burton and her girlfriend Laura Miyatake to marry, the couple of 14 months said Monday.

Miyatake (left) and Burton, who aren't ready to tie the knot.

"As soon as the news coverage about gay marriage started, my mom called me up," said Burton, who works as a nursing-home administrator. "Of course, she didn't directly ask me when I was going to marry Laura. First, she asked how Laura and I were getting along, and how business was at Laura's shop. But then she reminded me about my dad's heart disease and told me that he could go at any time. When she started to talk about how nice it was at my brother's wedding, I told her I was late for my yoga class."

Burton and Miyatake said they never expected the court's decision to add so much tension to their relationship.

"It seems like just yesterday I was annoyed because straight people were awkwardly asking if we were 'friends' or 'partners,'" Miyatake said. "Now, every convenience-store clerk who guesses we're gay asks us if we're going to get married under the new law. It's sort of a touchy subject, okay?"

Although Burton said she is strongly in favor of allowing gay couples to form legal unions and enjoy all of the civil and social benefits previously reserved for married heterosexuals, she stressed that she wanted these rights for "other gay couples."

"I'm really happy that we have the legal option to marry now," said Miyatake, who has a masters in botany and owns Occasions, a floral boutique. "That doesn't necessarily mean I want to get married right away. There's no reason to rush into a decision like that. I'm a big believer in ''til death do us part,' and I don't want be 50 and marrying my third wife."

"The decision to get married ought to be between the two women involved, and everyone else should butt out," Miyatake added. "Seriously, drop it."

Burton and Miyatake said they weren't shocked when their parents began to hint about marriage, but neither expected friends to do the same.

"We were driving home from a movie the other night when, out of the blue, our friend Kim [Benson] asked us why we weren't married yet," Burton said. "Well, Kim couldn't see this, but Laura's eyes were tearing up in the front seat. See, before we'd left the house, we'd had a big, terrible fight because my sister left some 'Here comes the brides' message on our machine. God, I wish people would just lay off and let our relationship take its natural course."

The couple's gay friends have been just as insensitive, Miyatake said.

"Our friends have been very supportive of our relationship, especially our friend Trent [Matthews]," Miyatake said. "But he's a DJ, so now, after the Boston ruling, he keeps talking about how fun he would make our wedding reception. He called the other day to say he'd just been trying on new tuxes, in case we gave him a reason to need one soon. Who does that?"

At a Memorial Day picnic Monday, the conversation returned to the couple's single status so many times that Burton said "it might as well have been a bridal shower."

"Every conversation was about gay marriage," Burton said. "Someone asked us about health insurance. Someone even asked what tax breaks we could get, or if we could be named each other's 401K beneficiaries. I'm sorry, but I really don't know. Ask my dad about that stuff."

"Then our friend Cameron said that if she had a girlfriend, she would get married right away, just to support the cause," Miyatake added. "I said, 'Can't I just donate some money somewhere?' I support protecting the dolphins, but I'm not chaining myself to a deep-sea fishing boat."

"Well, I made it through everyone telling me to adopt a bunch of orphans after Rosie O'Donnell did it, so I guess I'll make it through this," Miyatake said.

Even people who previously objected to the women's sexual orientation are suggesting marriage. Burton reports that her aunt, Eleanor Davis, recently said, "If Laura and Kristin have to be gay, and are going to be living together, then they should at least be married."

"She said June is the most lovely time of the year for a wedding," Burton said. "When I told Eleanor that Laura and I weren't ready to make that decision yet, she just said, 'Well, you don't want to die alone, do you?' Then she said something about how it's such a shame that the Burton clan hasn't gotten together since her 60th birthday party last year."

In follow-up phone interviews Tuesday, Burton and Miyatake reiterated that they had no immediate plans to marry.

"Sure, I love Kristin, but I've got a lot going on in my life," Miyatake said. "I'm working really hard to keep the store up and running. I'd rather not go through all the hassle of a marriage right now, just because the courts decided I could. I just don't see any reason why we need to go through some big, annoying ceremony to prove that we're in a committed relationship."

When told about Miyatake's comments, Burton paused several seconds before answering.

"'Some big, annoying ceremony'?" Burton said. "Some people might call it a 'beautiful, joyous occasion.' But fine. Whatever. I certainly don't want to rush her into anything. I just think it's interesting that she'd describe marrying me as a 'hassle.'"