Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What kind of world do you want?

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lauri and Celine

My partner, Lauri, and I got married at sea on 2/14/1991. We had been together for 9 years at that time.....we got married at sea and had the signed document with the captain’s seal just in case it ever became legal! We remained together forever, until she died on 4/19/2005....and we are still together in spirit. I just can't imagine loving anyone else the same way we love each other. It does get lonely at times, but I have lots of really good friends to hang out with...and life is good.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Doug and Michael

We have been together for almost 30 years now. When we met in a bar in Ohio, all of our friends said it would never last! I guess we showed them. We are getting ready to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our Holy Union that was performed at a Metropolitan Community Church in Ohio. We have lived at different periods of time in Ohio, of course, Florida, Maryland, California and Virginia. We were married in California by an old friend and pastor of ours outside of Sacramento August 31, 2007. We are one of the ones that the state still recognizes. Unfortunately, the Federal Government, who I work for, does not. I have not been able to get Michael on my health insurance benefits. In addition, we can't file a joint Federal tax return. This would be a significant benefit for us because of my salary being significantly higher than Michael's. And last but not least, even though Michael is a Veteran, we can not use his VA benefits to buy a house together because the VA will not recognize my income. Even though the Federal Government does not receognize us as a couple because of DOMA, our families do and they include the 3 dogs that we currently have and the three that we have previously had!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stewart and Leland

We have been together 20 years and a have a 10 year old son and a 4 year old daughter. Leland has been working on marital rights since 1983 when he chaired the task force which wrote the first Domestic Partnership policy enacted into law. We had been looking forward to President Obama keeping his promise to grant full federal marital rights to all "legally-recognized unions," a term his campaign invented. This would have covered 14 states for all same-sex couples in marriages, domestic partnerships or civil unions. Such legislation would have had the added advantage of focusing on legal fairness and would, therefore, have a shot at passing Congress because it was not about marriage, per se. Unfortunately, organizations like Freedom to Marry and others insisted that the proposed legislation ignore President Obama’s suggestion and grant federal marital rights ONLY to same-sex couples who were married. This would have only covered only 5 states if passed. But, in reality, it would cover nobody because everyone knew that federal legislation which only focused on marriage, and not on the rights of marriage, could not pass Congress.

Indeed, this legislation was declared dead less than 3 months after it was introduced. It will be many years, maybe decades, before we have large Democratic majorities again which can pass legislation to give us federal marital rights. We are grief stricken that our children will grow up without any of the federal protections of marriage, not because President Obama did not suggest a way to thread the needle, but because our own community insisted on a losing strategy. A sad victory of ideological purity over the mundane efforts to win much needed marital rights because those rights may not be labeled "marriage." We are pleased that Project 1138 has been started to try to correct the failure of our community's marriage-only strategy. Even if we have to try to painstakingly win our 1138 rights one at a time, it is better than the strategy of failure which brought us 33 electoral losses in 31 states (with no victories), 45 states banning same-sex marriage, 17 of those banning domestic partnerships and the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act. The few states, along with the City of Washington, DC, which allow same-sex marriages only do so because, in those jurisdictions, it is extremely difficult to put an issue on the ballot to overturn a legislative or judicial decision. Same-sex marriage victories in those jurisdictions do not present a broader winning strategy. Maybe Project 1138 will. We can only hope.

Jim and Don

We've been together for 33 years with all the ups and downs of any long-term relationship, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. We were plaintiffs along with a dozen other couples, gay and straight, who participated in the attempt by our ACLU of Oklahoma chapter to stop State Question 711 from being put to a vote of the people in November of 2004. The ballot question was placed on the ballot by a majority vote of both Houses of our Legislature with equal support from both political parties. This was the Oklahoma constitutional amendment making marriage legal only between one man and one woman. It also outlawed common-law marriages, but some haven't figured that one out yet. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that our lawsuit had been filed too late to be considered and that was the end of any legal avenues in Oklahoma.

The amendment passed with the voters condoning discrimination and continuing the momentum we've seen across the rest of the country that says our gay/lesbian civil rights are a prize to be handed out like raffle tickets to the voters of any state, be it red, blue, or purple. Only in this case, there was more than one winner: every hate voter was a winner, all 76% of them.

As Don and I get older we are bumping up against the discriminatory wall that separates our relationship from our civil rights as taxpaying citizens. As we need to make decisions about property distribution, inheritance, health and hospital coverage and denial, we realize we're looked at by the law as no more than close friends who have no legal responsibility toward the other. It's very discouraging as we look at the time being wasted by this supposedly gay-friendly Washington administration even as the religious wingnuts continue to throw verbal and physical rocks at our movement and even gain in strength as the denial of civil rights continues in allegedly blue states such as New York and New Jersey and the successful repeal actions in California and Maine.

Living here in red-dusted and red-minded Oklahoma it's hard sometimes to think we're making any progress or having any positive influence. Your website is a big morale booster to those who live in the smaller areas of the country, at least for Don and me.

Click to see the Supreme Court of Oklahoma document

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Michael & Tony
Tony and I have been together for almost 20 years.
We met on July 20, 1984, in Long Beach, CA. We started dating, and pretty much moved in with each other after 6 months. Tony and I had a ceremony on July 26, 1986, to bless our relationship. A Catholic priest officiated over a full Catholic Mass in front of more than 200 of our friends and family.
When we first met, Tony was an undergraduate student and I was a "non-working" actor. He is now a physician and a partner in a large family medicine practice, and I'm an Ivy League-schooled attorney. We're both involved with civic, cultural and political activities, in and out of the LGBT community.
Tony and I are just as married as any heterosexual couple we know. I take that back; we're MORE married because of all the hardships we've both had to face for being openly gay. For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, we have stayed together because we love each other. I am still crazy about him; only the Goddess knows why he puts up with me! It's gotta be love...

Joan & Linda
From The Daily Times, Delaware County, PA; written by Timothy Logue:
On an overcast and drizzly afternoon under an overhang outside a Portland, Ore., courthouse, a Havertown couple celebrated their 21-year anniversary with the exchange of wedding vows. "I can’t even express the beauty of it," Joan Mayer said in a phone interview from Multnomah County. "I’m a happily married woman. It’s unbelievable!"
"I’m feeling wonderful and a little numb," said Mayer’s longtime partner, Linda Gilvear. "I’m having a hard time believing this is really happening."
So are attorney generals, state Supreme Court members, presidential candidates and defenders of heterosexual marriage, all of whom have watched thousands of same-sex couples secure marriage licenses in recent weeks.
Mayer, 50, and Gilvear, 58, said the recent news out of California, New York, New Mexico, New Jersey and Oregon pushed them to do something they otherwise wouldn’t have.
"Once we made the commitment to each other, having a piece of paper didn’t mean much," Mayer said. "But now it’s 20 years later and we are getting to the stage in our lives when you have to deal with a lot of critical issues."
Over time, their conversations became peppered with issues like inheritance taxes, Social Security benefits, hospital visitation and the right to make medical decisions for one another.
"The most important thing about marriage to us is the legal rights that come with it," Mayer said. "If we just wanted to have a service, we could have done it a long time ago."
Mayer, who sells memberships for a fitness and country club, and Gilvear, a former fund-raiser for the University of Pennsylvania and soon-to-be reading specialist, privately committed themselves to one another 21 years ago Wednesday. They have spent 19 of those years in their Havertown home.
The couple’s initial plan was to fly to San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom had given the go-ahead to grant marriage licenses to gay couples.
That blueprint fell by the wayside when the California Supreme Court ordered the San Francisco County Clerk’s Office to stop issuing same-sex licenses. Before the court issued its temporary ruling, more than 4,000 couples tied the knot between Feb. 12 and March 11.
"Those plane tickets went out the window," Mayer said. "If we wanted to follow through, it had to be Oregon."
Luckily, one thing Gilvear and Mayer didn’t have trouble securing was a minister.
"I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this," said the Rev. Kent Matthies of the Unitarian Society of Germantown. "This is something they really deserve."
Talking on Mayer’s cell phone shortly after officiating his first same-sex marriage, Matthies said he witnessed "a ton of enthusiasm and excitement mixed with a tangible sense of urgency."
The Unitarian Universalist Association passed a resolution 20 years ago that stated its ministers could officiate same-sex ceremonies.
"There’s a movement out here to recall the county councilperson who made these marriages possible, so nobody is sure how long this process will be allowed to continue," Matthies said. "I think everyone who has been a part of this feels like they are making history."
Whether that history will translate into any tangible benefit once Gilvear and Mayer return to Havertown is another matter entirely.
In 1996, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed a law that defines marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman. It also states that same-sex marriages from other states would not be recognized.
"We have always been open and honest about our relationship and (Havertown) has been a wonderful place to live," Mayer said. "Having a marriage license -- an official document -- gives us firmer ground to stand on if we should have to challenge the law."
Multnomah County, which includes Portland, has issued more than 2,500 same-sex licenses since March 3. The decision to do so came after county commissioners determined it would be unconstitutional to deny homosexuals a fundamental right such as marriage.
The America Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday filed a suit on behalf of gay couples whose marriages were not recognized by the state’s Office of Vital Statistics.
From the sound of their voices, Gilvear and Mayer seemed not the least bit concerned about that legal challenge or what Pennsylvania law had to say about their marriage license.
"There was a couple out front of the courthouse who shot some video for us, and another couple handed us some flowers," Mayer said. "The license is paid for -- $60 cash. All that’s left now is a beautiful dinner with our minister and a big ‘thank you’ party when we get back home for all the people who have supported us."

Rae & Adina
Rae and I met on just over two years ago. It was funny--we had both seen one another's profile, and even printed them out--but continued to date other people, seemingly never bound to get together. After what was several months of continuously dating others yet still searching PNO profiles regularly, Rae says my profile came up in every search she would do. So she emailed me.
When I saw her email, I knew exactly who she was and remembered her profile--I was thrilled that she listed SUV's as one of the things she hated! We started to date a week later. After 4 months of casual dating, things were still "open," and I bumped into an old college crush at NYC Pride. She and I hit it off well, and began dating long-distance. Slowly, my relationship with Rae turned into a friendship. She began dating someone else as well, only, it was funny--neither of us ever talked about our respective relationships any time we were together with one another--which was all the time. In fact, Rae and I spent more time with each other than we did with our girlfriends.
Slowly, our friendship developed into a best friendship. We were inseparable. In February of '02 there was a huge snowstorm. Rae invited me to go to a bar with her and some friends. While there, I put two-and-two together to figure out she was dating one of the women that was there (a closeted woman, so their relationship had been a secret). I was shocked--not so much at this discovery, but at the discovery that I was insanely jealous!
Long story short, we both ended up realizing that our supposed "best friendship" was a mask for being head-over-heels, meant-to-be love. We broke up with our other girlfriends and have been together ever since.
Our families and friends all completely adore us as a couple and wish us the best in our hopes to marry and unite as a family. We are looking forward to May 2nd, when we have the opportunity to be surrounded by other happy and proud couples.
Julissa & Stephenie
We met on July 21st--it was love at first sight. I saw her several months ago before we met and I knew then that she was the one that I wanted to be with for the rest of my llife. Our relationship started out good, but then there was always someone there to get in between us. But as the time went by we realized that we really love each other and we want to be together for the rest of our lives. It's been nine months and now we learned not to let anything or anybody get in between us. We are now trying to get along and make things work between us--so far everything is alright but we still have some things to work on, but I know that everything will work out for us and i love her and i want to spend the rest of my life with her. All the words in this world can not explain how much I care about her and how much i really love her. She is my heart and my soul. When I see her I get a big smile on my face and there is no one in this world that can ever take her place. She will always hold the key to my heart. My heart has a lock on it and she is the only one that holds the key. Without her my life is imcomplete; when she is not around, it feels like a piece of my heart is ripped apart--that how strong our love is for each other. She will be the one that every morning when I open my eyes she is there right beside me. I want her to be the first one I see and the last one I see, And she is the one I want to marry.

Michelle & Christie
We met in the Fall of 1997, I was a Senior and Christy was a Freshmen at Rosemont College. We were both involved with other people but became fast friends. Over the next 2 years we grew to be very close friends, experienced some real heartbreak in our respective relationships and found comfort and understanding in one another. Eventually we both became aware that our feelings were evolving into something more than friendship. To make a long story short, I asked her to dance, she said yes, we fell in love and we haven't stopped dancing!
On April 26, 2002 we held a committment ceremony and reception where we publicly celebrated our relationship with 75 friends and family members. It was a magical night, we shared our vows, reflected on love and we danced to our song; we felt so supported and loved. We share our lives in a marriage in the truest sense of the word, we are as married as any of our straight friends, yet we do not have the same rights and protections that so many others take for granted.
The moment it becomes legal, we'll make our plans to be legally married and celebrate once again! This time the celebration will include a victory, not just a victory for the GBLT community but for every citizen who will be able to say that we truly are a country in which it is recognized that all citizens are equal.

Jessica & Rachelle
Rachelle and I became pen pals when we were 14 years old. There was no way for me to know then that when we finally met in person 3 years later, my life would change forever. Falling in love with a girl was something I had never thought about but from the second it happened I knew there was no turning back. They say first loves never die and now I would have to agree. Rachelle has always lived in Philadelphia and I have always lived in Austin, Texas. We broke up when we were 17 knowing that going to college and trying to make "us" work wasn't possible at that time. We lost touch with each other for 5 years; yet there was never more than a few days that would pass that I wouldn't think of her. It wasn't until New Year's Eve 2003 that I would see her again. She heard I was in New York City on vacation and found my phone number. When I picked up the phone and she informed me that she'd like to come up and see me. I felt that nervous sickness that being in love always causes. What amazed me most is that when I opened my hotel room door and saw her, it was like no time had passed at all. I have always claimed that we had some undeniable connection that I have never felt with anyone else and that moment proved me right. From that day on we have rearranged our lives to be together. As a first grade teacher I have the helpful bonus of summers and vacations off of work; so after spending a summer with Rachelle in Philadelphia I knew I would be moving there. I had to finish the school year in Austin but we have managed to see each other every few weekends and every extended vacation this year. We decided to get married in San Francisco on March 15, 2004. After planning our trip there and securing a professional photographer and a friend to serve as videographer we were devastated to get the news on March 11, that the California Supreme Court had halted San Francisco weddings. Through the sadness we regrouped our thoughts and decided to go to San Francisco on Saturday as planned and then fly to Portland, Oregon on Monday just for the day to get married there (our flight home left that night at 1 a.m. from San Francisco). As I arrived in Philadelphia from Austin a few hours before our San Francisco flight, I had a voicemail from a friend in Portland saying that their City Commissioners were going to put a halt on weddings until noon on Monday (our wedding day) and then announce whether they would continue with them or not. Not being able to fathom being in Portland and hearing that we were once again not allowed to marry each other we decided to cancel our entire trip a few hours before we left. Although we felt incredibly sad and hurt by this and could not understand why our love for each other and desire to make a lifelong commitment to each other would ever be forbidden by law, we also decided we were not taking no for an answer. The next day (Sunday) we woke up and drove 8 hours to Vermont and had a civil union on March 15th, 2004 (our original wedding date). I am moving to Philly next month and then our lives together will truly begin---FINALLY- after 10 years.

Elaina & Wendy
Elaina and I met 6 years ago thru a PGN Personal AD. Elaina and I both came out very young, she was 15 and I was 18 years old. We were both looking for that special person to spend our lives with. Even though, we are very different, there was an amazing connection and we both wanted the same things from life. We were married 3 year after we met on July 13, 2001, at the Cock n' Bull Restaurant in Lahaska, PA. Reverend Karla Fleshman of Metropolitan Community Church married us in a beautiful ceremony in front of all of our family members and friends. We are now in the process of starting a family. We just want the same rights for our future children that all straight couples enjoy. Elaina risks her life every day as a government and community firefighter, yet I am not eligible for her pension if something happens to her. We do not want Special Rights, We want the Same Rights!!

Koshin & Chodo
Seven years ago, this gorgeous man walked into the temple where I practice. I was struck with awe. After that night, he didn't return. Five years later, he turned up again in the zendo. That whole morning my meditation practice was waiting for the walking meditation—when I got to peek at him. My heart leapt. A friend of mine was volunteering with him at a nearby hospice. Two weeks later she got back to me, and she told me she'd spoken with him about me. A week later, after the Sunday morning meditation, he asked me for my number. From that day on, we saw each other everyday. At the time we were living at opposite sides of the city, but we always made sure to see each other even for five minutes to kiss under an umbrella on a corner in the rain. The past two years have been full of great love—bike rides through Central Park, travels to Japan, being together on silent week and month long meditation retreats, working as hospital chaplains, and keeping the relationship alive with great care. We will get married in the Fall of 2005.
May we live in a country that celebrates all marriages as much as our religious tradition and families do.

Brian & Jessie
Jessie and I met back in August of 1983 and decided to make it officially a relationship on September 1, 1983. I was 19 and Jessie was 18 and we have been together for 21 years this coming September of 2004. We have been through so much together, good and bad but, our relationship has lasted longer than most pepople we know who have been in relationships,...both gay and straight.
We have recently bought our first home together which we have worked very hard to be able to do. And we are in Bridgeport, CT (which has the higest property taxes in the nation)...we have two cars and two dogs (L.B. & Pudgie) which also have to be kept licensed and so on....we have all the same responsibilities of any married couple but we would like to make them "legal" as well as adding the benifits that married heterosexual couples take for granted every day. We are currently paying almost double the taxes that we would have to if we could file joint tax returns,...state and federal. I am currently self-employed and just turned 40 and because I cannot be added to Jessie's employee insurance,...I am paying almost $500 monthly for private health insurance and that doesn't cover dental. There are many other issues that everyone is aware of so, I won't go on....
We are very much in LOVE and I know I couldn't imagine life without my lover, partner, and most of all,....MY BEST FIREND.....Jessie.
Mary & Laurie
Laurie and I met in 1995 at a mutual friend's house. At the time, I had just lost a relationship and really wasn't looking for a new one. We enjoyed each other's company and would meet at events and parties that our friends would hold. We began spending our nights together and had a commitment ceremony in 1997. We have been living in Lansdowne with our three cats since then. However, we had been hearing about the ceremonies in San Francisco and considered going, but the long lines and the daily possibility of the ceremonies being stopped ... along with our lack of funds ... stopped us from going. However, a few weeks ago we heard that New Paltz NY was holding weddings (not just commitment ceremonies) were going on. We decided that, since I had friends who lived in New Paltz that I had met online, it would be a way to visit them and to get married (at least legally in NY). We just came from there and are now married. We are pleased to add our names to the list of those who are married in the eyes of God (and the Goddess) no matter what local and federal law states.

Nancy & Lilli
Nancy and I met on May 9, 1984; fell in love right away; got engaged on August 3; bought a house together in May 1986; and were married on December 27, 1986, in Key West by MCC minister Steve Torrence. We started the first positively oriented AIDS support group (empowerment counseling group) for the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, DC; and started the Program for Creative Self-Development (later called the Community for CSD) in 1992 to empower Gay women and men and all Gay-friendly people. Nancy is a metaphysical counselor and writer. I am a psychotherapist and fiddler. One of our favorite things has been to cruise with Olivia -- ten times so far!
Jodi & Marie
We met over 10 years ago. I was going through a divorce and Jodi had already gone through one. She was a single mom with a 6 year old son working full time and completing her nursing degree. Something just "clicked" when we met. We didn't really understand it right away, but obviously we finally realized we were meant to be together and have been so ever since. Jodi's son is now 16 and we have added to our family by having a daughter who is now almost 7 years old. We have struggled through custody and support battles, the effects of chronic illness and the associated costs, both monetary and emotional, some of which were made worse by the fact that we are not considered a "couple" and therefore, do not have the same rights as a married couple. Although I don't think either of us would ever "marry" again - we certainly believe we deserve to have the same rights as any other couple. We have set up legal protections, but know that there is always uncertainty. Although my large Catholic family professes to understand and abide by my wishes, especially where our daughter is concerned, I am never 100% sure that my rights will be upheld should I suddenly be unable to make competent decisions. I personally believe "marriage" is a religious concept that belongs in the "church" where it was conceived. Civil unions, however, are a "state" concept and should be available to us all.
Joel & Bob
We met at the Drudry Lane bar (no longer there) in Philadelphia on June 16, 1978. After almost twenty-six years together, we are still very much in love and are best friends. We attribute the success of our relationship to open discussion so that disagreements are not left to fester. Equally important to our relationship is sharing and respecting one another. Though our relationship is recognized in Philadelphia, we strongly believe in working to bring about gay marriage with the legal advantages that straight couples have.