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It's an Institute

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“This –” Shel is gesturing wildly, with the paper in his hand (Same-sex Marriage in Maine – Reality Before the New Year) and a triumphant look on his face. “Is a sign. The bouquet?” He throws the paper on the dining table, right in front of Ted and his cup of coffee, and his hands in the air.
“Was a sign.”

“Shel, you’re an atheist. By definition, you don’t believe in a higher entity or entities – or their signs.”

“And you’re lousy at sports and if Maggie’d thrown an elephant at you – you here, elephant there. In the lake.” He gives Ted one of his disappointed Why are you doing that thing that is making me sad? puppy dog looks that are about ten times more effective than the disapproval of any judge.

“This isn’t a courtroom, Ted. I don’t need to defend my opinions or beliefs or rights. Especially not from you. And you don’t need to pick them apart.”

Guilty as charged. “It’s a big commitment. It’s not something I want do just because I can.”

“I don’t want to do it just because I can. I’m committed! I want to get married. To the man I happen to love, even though he rivals my brother – love you too, Ben – in stubbornness.”

“No, you’re right. I’m sorry.”

“Ben and Maggie got married six years ago,” Shel says with a pout. “A long time to wait.”

“Been worth it.” Ted smiles soothingly. “Look, you single-handedly started a statewide movement, which grew into a nationwide phenomenon, which gained a worthwhile cause a lot of positive attention.”

“Because I was angry at my brother.”

“Because you felt it was the right thing to do. That’s what I love about you. You feel something’s unjust – and you act. I’m more of a think-it-over kind of guy. That’s what you love about me.”

“I do.”

“Shel –”

“Would being married to me be so bad?”

“Maybe I don’t want you to grow bored and file for a divorce. I’m pretty boring compared to the Gay Strike Guy.”

“Sure, with a boring sense of humour. Unlike his boyfriend, who likes to be embarrassing in front of important legal people.”

“I think Judge Smith has already forgotten about you asking if he’s a punch clock homophobe and gets the evenings and weekends off.” At least he hadn't punched him.

“He was jerk.”

“He is a jerk. But okay.” They can do this, right? Shel’s ready. He’s ready? “Let’s do it.”

“Is that your proposal?”

“Didn’t you propose already?”

“Not officially!” Shel looks like every holiday for a year has suddenly been cancelled. “I’d make you go down on one knee, but – oh.”

“I love you.” Ted’s knees will hate him later, but some things require a sacrifice or two. “So, will you marry me? I can offer you, um, the ear of a coffee cup as a token. Wait, it’s still got –”

With a sad look, he watches coffee drip down on his suit.

(But in the end, Ted Moore did become Shel Grandy’s husband.

His loving, but long-suffering husband.)