Marriage Stories

Triad NOW

Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, N.C.

"Straight Brides for Same-Sex Marriage"

Building from the conservatives' assumption that same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriage, Triad NOW began staging "Straight Brides for Same-Sex Marriage" demonstrations. What could be more terrifying to right wingers than a group of women in wedding gowns saying they're not threatened by same-sex couples enjoying the same freedoms that we already have? We've had two rallies so far and have gotten an amazing response. Even in the south, we have gotten virtually no negative reactions from the hundreds of people who have seen us. It makes passers-by do double takes and see the issue from a different angle. We believe it is imperative that straight and married allies stand up for marriage equality in order to show our communities that equal marriage is nothing to fear. We must all speak with a unified voice for equal rights.

Joan & Shirley

West Palm Beach, Fla.

This is the story of our very ordinary marriage. We met across a crowded room at a lesbian-feminist Consciousness Raising in 1973. Shirley said something that made her so popular, she was mobbed with admirers and I couldn't get a date with her until 6 months later. I was 27, she was 32. The next year, we moved in together. We spent our early years discovering each other, getting to know each other's families, supporting each other's career choices, and doing lesbian-feminist progressive activism. We had good sex, traveled the world. Our respect and affection grew deep. Later on, we drew on these strengths as we faced hardship: the election of Reagan, the AIDS epidemic and the loss of friends, personal illness, the illness and death of our parents (who had grown to consider each other as family), the 2000 presidential selection, aging and retirement. We have no children. Our closest friends are those we have met in the course of doing political work. Thank you, NOW, for meaningful work and for our friends.


Birmingham, Ala.

I met Shenoah when I was only 22. We fit together so well we felt as if we'd known each other our whole lives. Our passion and love for each other is still going strong after 4 years. In that timeframe we've actually embarked upon opportunities overseas, yet we somehow found our way back to each other. We just want what anyone else wants when it comes to our relationship. We want to be legally married! We should be allowed to choose for ourselves who we want to be legally and spiritually bound to. Living in a country that denies me that right is very difficult. Both Shenoah and I have been shunned by our families. They have little to do with us, which is why creating our OWN family is so precious to us. Living in the deep south, we have an even more difficult day to day struggle being lesbians. For example, we are uncomfortable showing affection to each other in public The times in which we have done so, the reaction has been very pronounced. Often crude and/or rude comments flow freely from our "God-fearing" neighbors. Right now, we are looking for an apartment and have run into all kinds of discrimination simply because we are two women who want a one bedroom. We have been almost forced to just look for a two bedroom and leave out the details. I wonder if the people who make fun of us and/or deny us our rights can even IMAGINE what it's like to lose family relationships, be unable to hold hands at the movies or sit next to each other in the booth for a romantic dinner. It is the small things that end up meaning so much. I just want the chance to love my Shenoah out loud! Then....maybe I'll feel free.


Indianapolis, Ind.

I was first involved with a woman in 1969. the only lesbians I knew were into roles - butch/fem- and as I did not identify with that, I thought I wasn't a lesbian. I became involved with the feminist movement and NOW in the early 1970's and came out in that supportive context. My partner and I have been together for 25 years.


Minneapolis, Minn.

The fight for equal marriage in Minnesota has cost me dearly. I don't mean health coverage, inheritance rights, or citizenship rights; those were guaranteed to me the day a district court judge signed the slip of paper that wedded me to my partner, a man. But the acrimony over the definition of marriage has cost me something no less significant.

I lost my best friends.

My family and I couldn't believe our luck five years ago when a couple and their young child moved into the empty house next door. Like us, they enjoyed Survivor, NPR, margaritas, talking politics, and tacky John Waters's movies. They shared our values and our sense of humor. Their son and our son formed an instant and deep connection. Over the years we babysat for each other, and we supported each other when the kids drove us crazy. I drove their son to the hospital to meet his baby twin sisters for the first time. When my husband and I found out we were expecting a daughter, no one was more thrilled than our beloved friends.

Then one year ago, they told us they were leaving Minneapolis and moving to Seattle.

Why would they leave? Why, when their family and friends were here? Economic necessity. The working parent was not allowed to provide the at-home parent with medical benefits, and the cost of purchasing coverage for the at-home parent was getting out of hand. The new job in Seattle paid more and provided generous medical coverage for domestic partners.

And our best friends are both women.

But economics were only part of the picture. In 2004, Minnesota state senator Michele Bachmann introduced legislation creating a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages and all legal equivalents. Her efforts so far have been in vain, but her message of bigotry and exclusion has resonated with enough Minnesotans to earn her the Republican endorsement for a seat in Congress. Our friends started feeling unsafe and unwelcome in their home state. They worried for themselves and especially for their children. Washington, they explained, could very likely be one of the next states to legalize same-sex marriage. Why should they stay in a state that was working so hard to ban it?

My friends would balk at seeing themselves as role models (they are just people trying to live their lives, after all), but their loving presence in my children's lives shows them more about love and marriage than any lesson I could teach. My son, for example, likes to act out adventures as well as family scenes with his dolls. Occasionally Scary Spice and the New York City firefighter doll marry and have children. But sometimes Scary marries Posh, and sometimes the firefighter marries Harry Potter. To him, love is love and sees no gender. My friends gave him this gift.

The battle for equal marriage will be long and hard, but it will be won. Love and tolerance will triumph over ignorance and fear. No more couples will feel oppressed, unsafe, compelled to relocate, or worse, compelled to hide. My children, my friends' children, and many more will make sure that this fight continues and that the goal of equality for all people is achieved.

Until then, I am just one of many in this country who's lost something in this bitter and divisive battle. Until then, I'm just someone who's missing the people I love


Tucson, Ariz.

My niece had a lesbian, Jewish, deaf wedding. It was fabulous. It was a traditional Jewish wedding and they had a "Ketuba" (wedding contract) which was gorgeous and framed. Two interpreters signed for the wedding party and the audience. The family came in from around the country. The wedding took place under a chuppah (wedding canopy) in a park on the University of New Mexico campus. Dancers performed all the songs we hearing people know. The troupe was mostly deaf with a few hearing people. "It was fabulous fun! I have my wonderful ASL interpreter niece and my incredible, smart deaf niece-in-law. I am profoundly blessed to have these women in my life. And rejoice in their family.


Delray Beach, Fla.

My sister asked me to meet her and her then girlfriend at the 1987 LGBT March on Washington, DC. We arrived in time to witness the 2000 couples who chose to go through a 'wedding' ceremony run by Rev. Troy Donahue (SF).

I was so moved by the devotion I witnessed, until that time I truly thought marriage was a trap for women, desired by one's parents/grandparents, or a government imperative. In other words I had always been against it. I also consciously felt I would prefer to be a "spinster".

But when I got home the spirit moved me and I asked my partner of 5 years (whom I knew for 20), to marry me. He said yes immediately. We held a small ceremony in our home presided over by a Unitarian minister and at age 39 I got married for the first time.

Now almost nineteen years later, I still feel terrible that we were able to legally married while all the people whose love changed my mind about marriage, still cannot. When I heard Charlize Theron state she would not wed until the LGBT community could as well, it raised all the guilt. But I turned that into a plus by working with Equality Florida to move Equality Marriage forward. I see this as a critical human rights issue. I was happy to see that New York State Chief Judge Judith Kay got that concept. She is quoted as saying: "I am confident that future generations will look back on today's decision as an unfortunate misstep."

I call it a crime against humanity. My partner and I agree this is a critical juncture for the human beings and we must unite around this issue. Equality for all.


Ewing, N.J.

I can relate to the struggle for same-sex marriage rights. I married a white man in Louisiana in 1996. I am a black woman. This could not have been possible without the Loving v. Virginia case. The same excuses that the "right" is using to block same-sex marriage were used in the 60s to keep blacks and whites from getting married!


Edwardsville, Il.

One of my greatest role models is a wonderful lesbian who works as a Chaplin for child cancer patients – WHAT STRENGTH SHE HAS! Her partner proposed on the jumbo tron at a professional baseball game and their celebration of union is in the fall. I am so proud and happy for her. Yet their day has been tainted by "progressive" members of their church calling them an abomination and not being able to be "sacredly" married. She and her partner are nothing but amazing and loving. Why must people try to taint such love with hatred?


Memphis, Tenn.

You can't help who you fall in love with. Bless you for finding someone willing to spend their life with you. It's hard enough to do that without worrying about someone saying you can't marry them. I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on the type of love I've found with my husband, regardless of sex. Of course I've told him he's probably the last man I'd be with if he leaves – sometimes single straight men just aren't worth it. Homosexuality is not contagious – divorce seems to be though. My straight friends have been divorced. My gay friends have been together for years!

Lisa and Kristi

San Diego, Calif.

My partner, Lisa, and I have just celebrated our six year anniversary. We met while we were in college and what started as an innocent flirtation has blossomed into a committed, loving relationship. Since then we have adopted a pug puppy, got engaged this past New Year’s Eve and have recently relocated from Minnesota to San Diego. We are excited to spend the rest of our lives together and hope to someday raise a family. Our future is full of dreams that every loving couple envisions.

Though our lives are happy and full, we still experience challenges being in an open, lesbian relationship. When we first met, fearing a negative reaction from our small, private university, we kept our relationship, and sexuality, hidden for over three years. It was hard to keep a huge part of our lives, especially a part that made us blissfully happy, from everyone. It was a relief to finally come out to our family and friends. Thankfully, the majority of our family and friends have been supportive and accepting of us and our relationship.

As LGBT-identified persons in a committed relationship, we face unique challenges that persons in a heterosexual relationships aren’t exposed to. For example, we constantly have to justify our relationship and explain the most mundane details of our lives to people we have just met. Lisa is often referred to as my ‘friend’ by coworkers or others who are unsure of what terminology to use. Though I know some of this stems from politeness, situations like this usually end up evolving into discussions and misunderstandings. Simple things, like going to a hotel and asking for a one Queen-sized bed or holding hands in public, can turn into a situation where we might be harassed, refused or discriminated against. Living your life with the threat of potential discrimination in every situation can be exhausting, annoying and exasperating. We are fortunate, however, to not have experienced any severe form of harassment or harm for being LGBT-identified and I find the majority of people are tolerant and courteous.

Since we are newly engaged (and planning our wedding for summer 2007!) and busy building our lives together, legal marriage has been on our minds a lot. I believe that we, and every same-sex couple, should be allowed to legally wed. Legal marriage, besides providing social recognition for relationships, creates a safety net of legal and financial security - luxuries that Lisa and I are not allowed. These include, but are not limited to, how we file taxes, hospital visitations, and the legal status of us being guardians to our future children. The right to marry has been recognized by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right under the United States Constitution and by stopping two consenting adults from marrying is discrimination - plain and simple. America was founded on the idea of freedom. Our government should be ensuring that everyone is treated equally and able to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Lisa and I, and our relationship, deserve those rights.


West Hartford, Conn.

In August of 1998 my husband and I showed our alliance with the gay community by having a heterosexual marriage ceremony that was not legally binding. In addition to inviting 150 family members and friends, we invited the press to come witness the event and publish stories about the unorthodox nature of our union as a statement against laws that prohibit same sex couples from sharing in the same advantages that heterosexual marriages do. A few local papers wrote stories about the event and our community increased their awareness of this important issue.


Durham, N.C.

My husband and I have been married for almost three years, and are very happy. Another person's marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual, does not affect our marriage, and it shouldn't. I think the conservative rants on this are absurd—my marriage is between my husband, me, and God.

As for being an LGBT ally, my husband's hobby is opera singing, and the directors of the small opera group he sings in are two older men who have been together for almost 50 years! My husband sang at their blessing for their union in an Episcopal church a year or two ago, which was done shortly before the Episcopal authorities put a stop to such things. Still, it was amazing, since those two have been together for almost twice as long as I have been alive! If anything, their union affirms the marriage of my husband and I, since it is great to have good role models to show us a healthy, long term union.


Augsburg, Germany

Personally, I haven't been much discriminated against for saying that homo-and bisexual people should have the same rights and chances. Okay, when I lived in a rural area as a youngster, that could happen but most of the time, I was discriminated against for being an outspoken feminist. But now I live in a big city and it's just wonderful over here, I am leading a very free, feminist life.

I remember that back at school, a mate of mine was being psychically abused and the other students said that's also because he may be gay. I also heard that some homo- and bisexual people had an extremely hard time during their coming-out and I was so surprised because I was told some of them had even felt suicidal, and I wondered why they had still felt so bothered right today. I mean, at least, we don't live in a country where people are persecuted for their sexual orientation, like in Afghanistan or Saudi-Arabia. But discrimination may still be tough today and it must be fought. I think if homo- and bisexual people may marry, why should that create trouble for heterosexual marriages? For example, when the law was passed in Germany, many people said they didn't like it but when it was added that a homosexual married partner who has enough money may also be held accountable for helping the other partner in need out with money and the welfare office can save money that way, a lot of people liked the new law better, by the way.


Budd Lake, N.J.

This week my partner of eight years and I visited her cousin's family in Florida. Her six year old nephew, whom we both adore, asked us if we were sisters. We said no. He asked, "So what are you then?" and after eight years together, owning a home and building a life together, and even a domestic partnership in New Jersey, we had to tell this child that we are "best friends forever". The child would have understood what "married" means, but we had to come up with something that didn't require a long detailed explanation with lots of information a six year old doesn't need.

We have often considered moving to Florida to be near family, but because we might want children of our own one day, and because of the legal issues associated with being "best friends" instead of married spouses, we cannot risk living there. Furthermore, since we both value having a large family around to raise children and we live so far away from family it is likely that we will never have children of our own.

The lack of formal marriage and the legal protection it offers to our family limits our lives and makes our relationship seem illegitimate and invalid to others. The life we have built together and the dreams we have worked toward deserve to be given the same rights as opposite sex couples.


Norway, Maine

Hi! I met Lisa, my partner of three years at a coffee date at Java Joe's in Bethel,Maine in November 2002. We had both had rough relationships and were returning to dating life slowly...I knew immediately that she was someone special. She was a mother of two and a wonderful baker/chef at a local eatery. She was funny, artistic and she knew what she wanted in life.

She has been a wonderful support in my life since we met on that day. I moved to Maine in July 2003. We have bought a house together and planted a garden. We have a dog Harvey and cats Mona and Henry. Lisa's daughter Bailey just finished her second year of college. Lisa has an illness that has kept her out of work for 6 months. We are taking life one day at a time...I would like to marry her so that we could the same rights as married folks (especially around health issues) I am fortunate that I work for North American Institute and that she is under my health insurance plan. We would love to celebrate our love at the ocean and be married with the blessings of the seals in Bar Harbor, Maine.



Poway, Calif.

About the time I started dating my husband, he invited me to a wedding for a co-worker and her partner. "J" was a friend of mine, so I was pleased to go. It was a beautiful ceremony, and their love and equal relationship in the months to follow inspired us to ask J to perform the ceremony at our wedding. Our best man was another gay friend, and I almost cried when I realized that while I was thrilled to be surrounded by important friends on my special day, I would not be able to stand with them at their own legally recognized ceremonies. J and her partner now have two wonderful children, and I cry again as I realize the extra hoops they have to jump through to have both mothers be legally recognized, and the children's future properly protected, while my husband and I will be automatically granted those rights. J and her partner are the best parents anyone could ask for, and a fine example of a loving, equal, sharing family. I hope someday the world will recognize them for that, rather than denying them their basic human rights.


Ann Arbor, Mich.

I met Lexi, now my wife, at the LGBT student group at Northwestern University. She walked in, gorgeous with long hair. I couldn't keep my eyes off her. Lexi later said she was immediately drawn to me with my vision and drive as a campus activist. I asked her out two months later.

Five years later, I proposed to her.

I proposed to Lexi at a location where we have done community service volunteer work together. I told her, "I love you more than the moon loves the Earth, more than the Earth loves the sun. You are more beautiful to me than the stars in the night sky and my love for you will endure to infinity." At this point, I reached into my pocket for the heirloom ring my grandmother gave me to give Lexi. But before I can pull out the ring, Lexi throws her arms around me and gives me a big hug, saying "Oh, I love you, too." So it takes me a moment to get the ring out of my pocket as my arms are now pinned to my sides. Then, I get on one knee, hold the ring up to her and ask, "Lexi, will you marry me." She replies, "Um, yeah, I could do that. Sure. I mean, yes!" Lexi later said that she was so surprised by the proposal and so moved by my words that she couldn't speak coherently and shouldn't be held accountable for her flustered words.

Ours was the first same-gender wedding under the care of my Quaker Meeting, Adelphi Friends Meeting in Maryland. Fifteen years ago, after much discussion, the Meeting passed a minute formally stating that it would treat same-gender marriages the same as opposite-gender marriages. My parents joke that they were the token straight people on the committee that shepherded this minute through the process of getting approved.

In order to get married under the care of the Meeting, a couple must first meet with a Clearness Committee who help the couple decide if they truly are ready to wed. Our committee was certain after their first get-together with us but thought they should have a second meeting with us for the sake of proper process. They asked me why I wanted to marry Lexi and I told them about the time I had been upset and Lexi was comforting me, but it was late at night so she fell asleep. Then, in the middle of the night, she rolls over, puts her arm around me and says (in her sleep!), "I love you. It's OK." Imagine: someone who loves you enough to take care of you even when she's asleep!

After the Clearness Committee issued its recommendation to the Meeting as a whole that it take our marriage under its care, the next step is for the couple to meet with the Arrangements Committee, who help with the mundane chores of actually making the wedding happen. The clerk (or head) of the committee said we should be sure to get a Montgomery County marriage license. I reminded him that Maryland would not recognize our marriage and he said, "So what?" The English government did not recognize the validity of Quaker marriages for nearly 100 years after the Religious Society of Friends was founded in the 17th century. Yet Quakers knew that they were wed in the eyes of God, even if the government would not recognize that reality. George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, famously said in 1669, "For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests' or magistrates'; for it is God's ordinance and not man's; ... for we marry none; it is the Lord's work, and we are but witnesses." Lexi included parts of this quotation on the printed page we gave everyone who attended our wedding.

Lexi and I therefore went to the Montgomery County courthouse, with my family and our committee in tow as supporters. The courthouse clerk took us into the back, asking "so you're both getting married?" Yes, we replied, handing her our documents. I explained that we would need a Quaker marriage license, which is different from the regular license because Quakers do not have clergy. The office clerk starts filling out the form on her computer with my name and address, then asked me, "And what's his name?" "Lexi," I reply, pointing to my fiancee. The clerk looks at the two of us, looks at our IDs, looks at us, looks at our IDs, then goes to get her supervisor.

We go into the supervisor's office and explain the situation again. He calls his boss and says, "Hi, I have two Quakers here, no one Quaker, and they want to have a Quaker wedding, but they're both female? What should I do?" After some consultation, the man makes us a photocopy of a memo from the state attorney general stating that the government will not issued marriage license to same-gender couples. Lexi points out that he might want to note on the license bureau website this discriminatory practice. Our committee and family cheered for us when we came out of the office, even if we did come empty handed.

On the day of the wedding, 180 people attended (my dad counted the signatures on our certificate, proving what a large gathering it was). When we said the traditional Quaker vows to each other, Lexi got so choked up she could hardly speak. I was so nervous that I put the wrong ring on her finger and ended up with the wrong one on mine as well. We heard so many kind messages from Friends and friends attending. Both my Puritan grandmother and Lexi's conservative Presbyterian grandmother asked God to bless us. Others spoke about how long they have known one or the other of us and how glad they are to finally see us happily married. One little girl, a junior member of the Meeting, said that her gay uncle had died before he had the chance to get married but she felt that by witnessing our wedding she was witnessing his also.

During the reception (traditional Quaker potluck with no alcohol), my sister read a blessing poem from "The Prophet." Lexi's brother's toast was to a challenge to everyone present to make changes so that his sister's marriage would be valid not only in the eyes of God but also in the eyes of the state.

Lexi and I have now been married three months and been together nearly seven years. We have since bought a house and adopted a dog. We hyphenated our last names and plan to have children in a few years.


Dayton, Ohio

The LGBT community seems to be more attuned to issues such as acceptance, friendship, unity, etc. I value the welcoming aspect of the community.

It saddens me to see so many people apathetic about the marriage equality struggle, including GLBT people. What also saddens me is how history is repeating itself; not long ago our country outlawed interracial marriage. It is incredibly frustrating to feel so powerless to stop the government from using the GLBT community as a political tool to gain them more votes.

The perfect future would involve marriage equality in all fifty states, nothing less. Any efforts to try to overturn marriage equality would be soundly defeated and seen for what they are: unnecessary, hateful, and a waste of time.

We want the REAL thing. The legal rights are what really matter to us.

If we were to have children, it would undoubtedly affect them. Children do best when they have healthy, happy parents... The current marriage inequality prevents many GLBT people from being as happy and emotionally healthy as they could be. The verbal (and physical) attacks that occur on a regular basis enact a heavy emotional burden.

My partner's family is quite accepting of us and does not support any efforts to prevent us from having legal rights.


Altoona, Wis.

I'm the Mom. Today I'm also Bubbie (grandma) to three foster boys.

I worried for my daughter when she came out. No, it wasn't easy for my husband and me in the beginning but that was over 20 years ago. Her grandfathers were way ahead of us.

When she finally figured out what to do with herself she finished her undergraduate degree and wanted to become a rabbi. Would she even be admitted? No sweat. But this was the Reform movement which was open to it in 1990.

Today she and her partner are married any time they go into Vermont where they held their ceremony. Otherwise they have to deal with whatever state law permits. It's not what I like to see.

I think things will be difficult for them off and on. But her parftner's a very steady, warm, loving woman who navigates bureaucracies well so they've become succdessful foster parents and are about to adopt a 5 year old boy. Yes, they have gay male friends who are also foster parents, and with whom they socialize a great deal.

They have the potential for a number of closets: they're Jewish, they're gay, they foster children of all races. Yet my daughter's congregation accepts them for who they are and it's thriving. Did I mention I'm proud of them?

So, since I think we have to deal with facts and not fool ourselves into thinking that anybody's religion or sexual preference can be legislated, I want to see no laws whatever and no constitutional amendments such as the one we have to beat by referendum in Wisconsin this year, much less a federal one. It will only cause difficulties for people who wish to be in a committed relationship and grow old together. Without extensive paperwork--and in some places even with it--they have no legal right to speak for each other in emergencies. I object.

Comments (0)

Rich text editor