Equal Dignity: Sharing My Experience of Marriage Equality

Last year during the days leading up to what many in the LGBT community hoped and predicted would be a favorable decision in  the Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges (the case that decided marriage equality), there were a great number of us planning to get married.  My partner of almost fifteen years, Ira, and I were among those making plans to do just that.   I went to work that day, just like any other weekday, but Ira took that day and the following Monday off.  I was skeptical that the Court would have an opinion on the case that day.  I didn’t think that the Court would issue such a monumental decision June 26, a day that was nowhere near the end of the term, which is when the most closely watched cases are typically decided.  Ira, on the other hand, was optimistic that we would know that day whether or not we were to wed.

As the time came for the decisions of that day to be announced, I sat at my desk reading the live blog from Scotusblog.  Then at 10:01 AM EDT, this happened:


It is worth noting that about a week before this happened, the judge of our county’s probate court announced that there was a list that you could sign and the day the decision was read a clerk would call to tell you how to proceed with getting a marriage license.  Minutes after the decision was read, I received a call from one of the county’s probate clerks to tell me the same-sex couples of their county that signed up can come pick up a number from the courthouse.  This number would ensure that we would be among the first to receive a marriage license when they started issuing them.  I called Ira immediately to tell him to go get our number.  After he gets us registered for a marriage license, we figure it wouldn’t be until Monday when we would get our license.   The clerks and the probate judge had to read through Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion.  As soon as I go to lunch, I get a call from Ira saying that our county probate judge would issue same-sex marriage licenses that same day.  It was the moment that we had been waiting for: We were getting married.

The excitement at that point was combined with a nervousness stemmed from a life changing moment.  While driving my 45-minute commute home and listening to commentary about the ruling, Ira was calling his sister, Karen, who was off that day as well, to meet us at the courthouse.  I made it home and after changing clothes, Ira and I headed to Walmart to pick up a couple of wedding bands for our courthouse ceremony.  We also picked up a bouquet of flowers for Karen to hold as our “flower girl”.

We went to the courthouse and filled out the necessary paperwork to obtain a marriage license. We find out that we were the second same-sex couple to get our license from the reporter of our local paper. He interviewed us for his story that would be in the paper the next day.

The one wrinkle was the probate judge was only issuing licenses that day.  He wouldn’t be officiating wedding ceremonies until the following Monday.  So began the scramble to find someone to marry Ira and I that same day.  Luckily, one of the other judges in the courthouse agreed to do it and so we waited for the heterosexual couple that the judge is marrying right before us to finish.

That judge’s clerk told us that the judge has to rework the wording of the vows.  Before the ceremony begins, the judge told us we were the first same-sex couple to be married in our county’s courthouse.  During the part of the ceremony where we say our vows, I noticed Ira start to tear up as he was saying his vows to me and I almost ended up crying myself.  Once the ceremony was over we wait for marriage certificate to be notarized.   When we go up to get it, the head photographer of our local paper asked to take our picture for the newspaper.

The photo took of us for the local paper. Photo credit: Lisa Scalfaro
The photo took of us for the local paper. Photo credit: Lisa Scalfaro

At that point, Ira and I knew without a doubt, we were going to be on the front page of the paper.  We finish up with the reporter and the photographer and head outside so Karen can take pictures of us as well.

After we took these pictures, Ira and I went to enjoy an intimate dinner to celebrate getting married.  When I looked at our local newspaper the next morning, it turned out Ira and I aren’t just on the front page of the paper, we were the lead story with almost 75% of the page.


Needless to say, we were very surprised and honored.  It’s not everyday that your wedding was considered newsworthy.  Although we were planning on going to Cleveland Pride on that day it was cancelled due to heavy rain during that morning.  At the time this is posted, it will be not only a year of marriage equality in the United States, but it is also first wedding anniversary.  It is a day that continued the LGBT community’s path to equality and also one of the happiest days of my life.

2014- Year in Review: Gay Games 9 Opening Ceremony

One of the best things about 2014 was being a part of something that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity such as Gay Games 9.  Being able to meet so many different people from not only different parts of the U.S. but also the world was incredible.  One of the most remarkable things about Gay Games 9 was the Russian delegation.  That group had such courage to come represent the LGBT community at time when their own leader has passed laws against them.

Gay Games 9 Cleveland Closing Ceremony August 16, 2014

Gay Games 9 Cleveland Opening Ceremony Pictures Part 3