Juan and I finally became domestic partners the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 6. And while it wasn't the "gay marriage" that conservatives fear will someday and in some way destroy all our state holds dear, it definitely was something.

The night before the big deed I started getting butterflies. I even went so far as to tell Juan we shouldn't do it. That he deserved better and that he should wait for someone who made more money and didn't fart so much. He just looked at me, smiled and said, "You can work on the farting."

After a restless night in which my dreams were full of me getting poked in the stomach by sharp sticks, I put on my best black shoes, slicked back my hair for the first time in several years and tried to pretend what we were doing was really "no big deal." But as we drove through the morning mist of rush hour, I knew it was about more than just getting a document that allowed us hospital visitation rights.

While Juan and I had already bought a house and a car together, this would be the very first time in our 13 years as a couple that we "officially" recognized our relationship beyond anniversary dinners at Bluehour.

We were first in line in the near-empty Multnomah Building that morning. Juan and I had to track down our own notary, so we headed to the sixth floor and County Commissioner Jeff Cogen's office, where we found the friendly face of Karol Collymore, Cogen's communications and projects manager (and real, live notary). She stamped our form, made us sign some official-looking book and even accompanied us back downstairs to the Office of Assessment and Taxation (we needed someone to take our picture).

At 8:45 am it still looked like we were the first DP'ers of the day, so we headed straight to the head of the line, where we paid our 60-odd bucks for our certified declaration of domestic partnership and a commemorative certificate that we need to fill out ourselves (does anybody know a good calligrapher?). By that time, a few more couples had filed into the office. When I asked them why they had waited until Wednesday to do it, the most common response was, "We've just been busy." I guess that's why by the end of the first week there had been only 381 same-sex couples registered as partners.

After a couple of photos, a few hugs and kisses, we left the building and got back into our car. The impact of the event didn't really hit me until I called my mom, Sparkie, on my cell phone. She said she was very happy for both of us, that it was about time we finally got hitched, and that we shouldn't have had to wait so long for our rights to be recognized. But it was what she said to Juan when I handed him the phone that really hit home: "Your mom just said, 'Welcome to the family, Juan,'" he told me.

And that's what we are now: family. Wow.

Now, what are we supposed to do about a reception?.