29 Couples Celebrate that #LoveIsTheLaw on 2nd Anniversary of the Freedom to Marry

By Adam Polaski • June 24, 2017 • 9:39 am

June 26 marks the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

In the first year after the victory, 123,000 same-sex couples were married – and as more and more Americans get to know members of the LGBT community, support for the freedom to marry nationally has increased, with a recent poll finding that 64% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples, a historic supermajority. When same-sex couples are free to marry, the reality is that families are helped and no one is hurt – and our country’s understanding of the LGBTQ community and the dangers of discrimination swells.

It’s been exciting to see so many same-sex couples legally able to say “I do” – but it’s clear that there remains significant work to do. In more than 30 states LGBT people are not explicitly protected from discrimination, and this anniversary comes on the heels of state lawmakers targeting LGBT people with shameful, discriminatory legislation. We must harness the momentum of the freedom to marry and hold it up as a shining example of the fact that when we come together and deliver on the promise of equality and dignity for all, our nation is strengthened.

Check out these new quotes and stories from 29 same-sex couples in nearly 20 states who are celebrating the second anniversary of the freedom to marry nationwide. Then join us by sharing your own photos on social media and using the hashtag #LoveIsTheLaw!

Mark Phariss & Vic Holmes • Texas

“We are thrilled that our work as marriage plaintiffs, along with the work of hundreds of other marriage plaintiffs across the country, has helped make the U.S. a better place for LGBT Americans.  But as we celebrate the 2nd anniversary of marriage equality, we are reminded how much more work yet needs to be done.  We must pursue, and never accept anything less than, full equality.”

Kathleen O’Donnell & Casey Reeves • Montana

“Marriage equality was a giant step forward for our community. However, now is not the time to be complacent; now is the time to stand up and get involved. We must continue to push forward so that all people have equal rights.”

Stuart Gaffney & John Lewis • California

“We were thrilled to celebrate our 30th anniversary this spring with family and friends, and it was especially wonderful to do so as a legally married couple, whose marriage is respected and recognized all across our great nation.  We believe in freedom, respect, and equality for all Americans. Nationwide marriage equality makes us feel more secure as American citizens, who are no longer excluded from the American dream of marrying the person you love and pursuing your happily ever after.  As we mark the two year anniversary of the freedom to marry nationwide on June 26, we are grateful to the millions and millions of Americans who made it all possible and continue to support liberty and dignity for all.”

Larry Carter & Antoine Nolan • Georgia

“Family isn’t defined by gender, race, nor sexuality. Family is defined by love. We are so grateful that Love is the Law.”

Glenna DeJong & Marsha Caspar • Michigan

After 27 years together, Glenna and Marsha “unintentionally made history” when they became the first same-sex couple in Michigan to legally marry, following a tremendous court ruling in the state. As they approach their 30th anniversary, they’re thrilled that #LoveIsTheLaw, nationwide, at last.

Jim Brenner & Charles Jones • Florida

“From time to time there are moments in history that changes people’s lives in a way that is magical. And by that we mean life-changing. We thank our attorneys Betsy White and William Sheppard for the incredible work they did on our behalf. When we married in 2009 we did not believe that we would live to see this happen. Sometimes life surprises you in ways too wonderful to comprehend.”  

Kim Franklin & Tammy Boyd • Kentucky

“As we approach the 2 year anniversary of the SCOTUS ruling, we are encouraged by all those who have expressed their legal rights and have shown that #LoveWins by marrying the one they Love.  Tammy and I are excited to renew our vows this year in front of our Family and Friends in our home state as well.”

Susan & Shannon McSpadden • Kansas

“It feels great to be able to refer to each other as ‘my wife’ in any situation. There is a sense of empowerment to have the equality to do even the simplest of things like file our taxes jointly and be on the same health insurance plan. We walk taller and feel our marriage is stronger because we have the support of friends, family and now our country. Love will ALWAYS win! Over the past two years, we have attended many weddings. It fills our hearts with overwhelming joy to know that these are not commitment ceremonies, but legal marriages. The word “wife” creates such a deep sense of forever and permanence. We love that the freedom to marry has given our community renewed energy, excitement and hope.”

Greg Bourke & Michael DeLeon • Kentucky

“The last two years since marriage equality was won have been monumental for our family. After co-parenting our children for 17 years, we finally were able in July of 2016 to complete legal second-parent adoptions for our two children. That was the goal of our lawsuit and finally came to fruition after much effort. We have also attended many same-gender marriages over the last two years, and each one touches us deeply knowing that we had a part in making that a possibility for current and future generations.Perhaps one of the best advantages of having marriage recognition the last two years is that this designation has provided us almost $12,000 savings in reduced federal and Kentucky state income taxes for our family.  Score!” 

Bobbi & Jen Buchman • Maryland

“It’s been so great to see couples getting married, to be able to enjoy all the legal and emotional benefits of being recognized as legitimate. We’re living our happily ever after; we’re thrilled that others are too.” 

Roman & Bernard Jones • New York

Over a decade after they met, Roman and Bernard celebrated their wedding surrounded by friends and family in New York, and shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling they shared with Freedom to Marry, “We believe in equality. We shouldn’t be limited to 37 states any longer. This is the year to bring marriage all over the United States.” Just a few days later, it was – and now, #LoveIsTheLaw. Photo by Nina Sosnicka Villegas

Adam Kalin & Jeff Chipman • Tennessee

“Marrying Jeff after 16 years together was by far one of the best days of my life. Not only was I marrying the love of my life, but our family was becoming legally recognized. Jeff was finally able to adopt Jayden, our oldest son, who was 7 years old at the time, which was a huge relief. It was that much more meaningful to Jeff and I that our children were able to witness our wedding and history being made.  Prior to marriage equality Jeff had been unable to adopt our oldest son Jayden. Jayden was born in Mississippi where same-sex couples could not legally adopt, so I had to finalize as a single parent.  When we came back to Tennessee for Jeff to adopt Jayden, they said Jeff couldn’t adopt him because in Tennessee it was termed “step-parent adoption” and since we couldn’t be married Jeff couldn’t be a step-parent. Marriage equality meant Jeff finally being able to be the parent he had always been to Jayden legally, after years of us fighting for that adoption and recognition. Jeff finalized Jayden a few months after our wedding. It added that final stability for our children.”

Nette & Jasmine Archangel • Louisiana

“We smile because we can now say, this is my wife and these are our sons. They can grow up in a new world where their family is the new normal. It feels so good to walk into an atmosphere and refer to each other as ‘wife’ with pride.”

RJ Aguiar & Will Shepherd • California

RJ Aguiar and Will Shepherd, popular YouTube personalities, tied the knot on May 7, 2016 in Tallahassee, Florida. And as they prepared, they documented their entire journey from engagement to wedding on their YouTube channel – check it out here! The couple continues to produce video blogs on that channel.

RJ is also a popular voice in the bisexual community, becoming well known across the Internet for helping more people understand bisexuality and the challenges that bi+ people continue to face. RJ explained, “Marriage equality wasn’t just a win for gay and lesbian people, it also sent a message to Bi+ people across the nation that they don’t need to hide or be ashamed of their identity. And in two short years, our legal right to marry has undergone numerous assaults, along with many other of our constitutional rights. So while anniversaries like these are worth celebrating, let’s also remember that we have lots of work ahead of us.”

Gary Wright II & Brandon Mabrey • Alabama

“On February 9th 2015, Brandon & I both officiated same-sex weddings during Huntsville, AL Wedding Week and saw the power of bringing entire families together in marriage. We were determined not to let Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (since removed from office for the second time on ethics violations) stand in the way – so we became marriage equality plaintiffs and filed a class-action lawsuit against the state prior to to SCOTUS ruling. The Latin phrase above the State House door translates to: “We dare defend our rights.” Sharing our personal stories is the only way to change hearts and minds. Since those victories, our hearts have truly been touched by the stories of equality from across the land – but we are sobered by the work that still lies ahead.”

Jan Polinsky & Nancy Clark • Connecticut

Ten years after they met, in 2009, Jan and Nancy married in their home state of Connecticut. “Gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and benefits as straight couples,” Jan said. “Our country was founded on equal rights for all of its citizens.” Now that #LoveIsTheLaw, Nancy and Jan are set to celebrate their 18th year together! “In today’s environment it is more important than ever for the LGBT community to be recognized,” Jan said.

Kody Christensen & Zac Linton • Montana

“This is the anniversary of the constitution winning, our civil rights being recognized, and our community coming together. Marriage equality meant more than a piece of paper, it was our country and leaders finally seeing that we deserved every single protection and luxury everyone in the United States has by being a citizen. In short, it was about time.”

Christopher Boudewyns & Carl Byrd • New Jersey

“Members of the LGBT community have the same dreams as every other American and citizen of the world. We just want equal rights to share our lives with our chosen spouses, to raise families and to simply pursue our happiness. Weddings are those perfect days where our friends, family and loved ones join us in celebrating that most universal of truths: Love is love is love is love.”

Dianne Hardy-Garcia and Corri Planck • California

Now that marriage equality is the law of the land, we have a much-appreciated sense of security and can breathe a little easier. At least as much as you can breathe easy when raising two teenagers. We’ve lived through having marriage equality granted, then taken away by Proposition 8, then restored. To reach this two-year anniversary on a national level means a great deal to our family, and we don’t take it for granted.”

Todd & Jeff DelMay • Florida

“As a Florida plaintiff couple we have celebrated the Marriage Equality win many times in the last two years while witnessing couples exercising their right to marry like we did. Although achieving Marriage Equality came faster than we could have imagined after joining our case, we never thought it could feel so fragile again so soon. But those who are still intent on taking away and denying our rights need to know that we didn’t join the fight just to let up once it was won, but rather we remain committed to ensuring it remains the law of the land.”

Jenn & Christina Honeycutt • Massachusetts

Jenn and Christina married in New Hampshire in 2014 after six years together. In 2013, Christina, who was raised in Texas and still has family there, explained, “I’m hopeful that one day soon we will all be able to marry the person we love and be recognized as truly equal citizens in each and every state.” Now that #LoveIsTheLaw, that hope has become a reality.

Kershunda & Keyana Washington • Maryland

“LGBT equality means being able to travel to any state with my wife who is active duty military without fear of being fired for my sexual orientation. It also means being fully embraced within the LGBT community and understanding the intersectionality of race, gender identity and sexual orientation.”

Mario Pabón & Jason McAllister • New York

“During times of uncertainty, our marriage has been the keystone that holds our world together. Over the past two years, we have cherished the equality and security that our relationship deserved for the 12 years we’ve been together. And moving forward, we carry the empowerment and recognition we received from the Supreme Court in 2015 as a beacon of hope for whatever may come!”

Steve Schlairet & Ozzie Russ • Florida

“We met each other over 20 years ago. In Ft Lauderdale we registered as Domestic Partners and had a Commitment Ceremony since there was not an option of marriage at that time. In 2004 we moved to a rural town in the Panhandle and started our life as ranchers in a small town of 5,000. When approached by our friends Jim Brenner and Chuck Jones we joined their law suit for marriage equality in Florida. We were legally married on January 10, 2015, and we are now serving as Foster Parents and have had 10 children over the last 2 years. #LoveIsTheLaw!”

Michael Ferguson & Seth Anderson • Massachusetts

Since marrying in Utah – the first same-sex couple to do so on a beautiful December afternoon in 2013 following a federal judge’s order – Seth and Michael have moved to Massachusetts. “While this is certainly a time to celebrate the wins and accomplishments, it is also a time for solemn reflection,” Seth said. “Equality is inevitable, but the fight is not over. We must continue the work to change hearts and minds towards love, acceptance, and justice for all.”

“Having stepped into the social respectability of marriage, I think we have to be cautious about getting too comfortable with our newly-found privilege,” Michael added. “People who don’t want marriage or who are still seeking a marital partner are just as entitled to every single last social dignity as those who have entered the institution of marriage. We cannot for a second let our privilege make us complacent in the ongoing struggle for social righteousness.”

Carol Mason & Nicole Leaf • South Carolina 

“The full  legal recognition of the commitment we had already promised to each other just gave our marriage an extra layer of concrete foundation under it.  My relationship with my wife is a precious thing that I cherish and to have the full backing of the law underpinning it makes it feel protected.”  

Matthew Mansell & Johno Espejo • California

Matthew and Johno were married in San Francisco on August 5, 2008 (shown here with their family just before saying their vows).  The men were plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges, in the case on whether their marriage must be recognized legally by the state of Tennessee, where they lived at the time.  “My family deserves the same in every state as any other family in this great country,” Matthew said. “We should not allow prejudice, fear and hate to deny us full access to everything afforded other US citizens.”

Aaron Huntsman & William Jones • Florida

Aaron and William hail from Key West and were plaintiffs in Huntsman vs. Heavilin, one of the cases in which a judge struck down Florida’s law prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples. Since then they have founded the Love Is Love Foundation, through which they work toward LGBT equality locally and nationwide.

Kenneth Larsen & Mark Jackson • Georgia

After almost 40 years together, Kenneth and Mark were forced to travel from their home state of Georgia all the way to Washington, DC to make their commitment legal, before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the freedom to marry in 2015. When they returned home, their state treated them as if their wedding never happened – but now, they are legally respected in Georgia because #LoveIsTheLaw. “Love must win,” Kenneth said shortly before the ruling. “Let the truth of our families thrive.”

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