He was handsome. His bride was gorgeous. The bar was well-supplied.
After the flowers, the rings and the vows, I furnished the off-the-cuff groomsman's speech, and the night's celebration became the morning's party.
It was a ceremony to remember. But I doubt it would have been the same for a civil union.
I doubt the guest list would have been so extensive. I doubt the couple's joy would have been so complete. I doubt I would have sprung for the tux.
That's because, for better or worse, marriage is still society's golden standard of commitment. It remains a foundation for families, a building block for communities.
No less an authority than the U.S. Supreme Court has writ: "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival..."
That unique distinction hasn't changed since 1967, when the court wrote its watershed decision of Loving v. Virginia, ruling interracial marriage bans were unconstitutional despite claims that the practice was unnatural and not what God intended.
Another thing that hasn't changed: There are still people trying to keep us safe from their idea of sin, even if it means supporting institutional discrimination.
How else to explain Proposition 8, the measure that would prevent same-sex couples from marrying?
The language used in its defense is eerily familiar. Not to mention intellectually dishonest.
Proposition 8 is "not an attack on gay relationships" supporters write in the official California voter's guide. If you follow the line of reasoning, taking away the opportunity to legally marry actually "respects the rights of gays."
Doublespeak aside, the goal of Proposition 8 is plain — to establish "separate but equal" status under the law for homosexual relationships.
The folks who wrote Proposition 8 learned from Jim Crow: if these people must have a water fountain, make sure it's around the back so they know their place. And make sure they know they're lucky to even have the fountain.
That shouldn't fly when it comes to the state constitution, a document that, like its federal counterpart, is designed to ensure equality under the law.
It's hard to imagine how denying marriage to same-sex couples — relegating their healthy, stable, community-building relationships to second-class status — fits the concept of equal protection.
And no amount of religious certitude can justify such an arrangement.
Many of Proposition 8's biggest backers believe their religious precepts should be enshrined in state law. But that confuses the marital role of the state and the marital role of faith.
One defines a civil institution, the other a holy one. One deals with the secular, the other salvation.
Some of the confusion is, of course, willful. A few Proposition 8 supporters would like nothing more than to blur where the state ends and personal faith begins.
Me, I'm not comfortable with theocracy. I happen to think there's plenty of room for both religious freedom and equality under the law.
There is no other honest way to put it. Stripped to its core, Proposition 8 is designed to make discrimination — against loving, committed citizens — part of the state constitution.
That's not consistent with my vision of California. Or America.
• Jon Mendelson is an award-winning columnist for the Tracy Press. Share your thoughts at email@example.com.