What brings a couple together is different for every twosome, and the decision to get married is never a choice made lightly, since it makes a relationship endless, timeless, and legally-binding. Since the passing of DOMA in 2013, LGBTQ+ couples finally have the same rights as heterosexual couples, giving them the lawful opportunity to join their lives together. Here, six same-sex couples share their love stories and what ultimately led them to the altar.
They couldn't imagine life apart.
When Dee Filecia and Sara Barsky's paths first crossed, the women admit they were initially attracted to one another, but neither wanted to get into a relationship so they kept things friendly. That lasted for all of two weeks. After a year of dating, the twosome decided to get married in Los Angeles, where they had just moved from Canada. Why did they decide to make it lawfully-official? For Dee, it was because she couldn't imagine a life without Sara.
"I used to ask people how they knew they wanted to marry the person they are with and they would tell me they just knew. That answer used to frustrate me, but I am here to tell you that I just knew. I had no doubts and I knew Sara was the one for me," she explained. "The two most important things for me are that we agree on fundamental values, and that when we fight or have a disagreement we are able to fight in a way that is respectful."
They saw each other as "home."
It took several years and a party for long-time acquaintances Jonathan Lovitz and Steven Sosna to finally strike up a meaningful conversation. After an evening spent chatting, Steven found himself thinking of Jonathan the very next afternoon, so he sent him a message. Jonathan responded immediately, cleverly sending a weather pun as a nod to Steven's career as a weather reporter. A relationship started and, over the course of the next three years, the couple created a home together in New York.
It was having that shared home that helped them come to the decision to marry. "When you meet that one person who loves everything about you—the good and the bad—you have to fight for them with all you have. We love our jobs even though they can keep us apart for days or weeks at a time," Jonathan shared. "So, for us, getting married means always knowing there is someone special, no matter where you are. We are marrying our rock; our best friend; our better half. In the words of our 'first dance' song by Billy Joel, 'I'll never be a stranger and I'll never be alone. Wherever we're together, that's my home.'"
They wanted it for their family.
They often say being friends first can result in the happiest, healthiest relationships, and this was true for Lorraine Hems and Andrea West. The friends shared many passions, including music, Broadway, food, wine, sports, and humor. After realizing they never wanted to be apart, they had a commitment ceremony with friends and family in 2000, and made it legal in 2017. "We felt it was important to make it legal once we were afforded the opportunity like other straight couples. We waited because, even though marriage was already legal in New York State, we were finalizing the adoption of our son," Lorraine shared.
It was undoubtedly a big day for Lorraine, Andrea, and their son, but the couple also adds that it was a meaningful event for the minister of their church—he was set to retire shortly after the couple's nuptials and had never had the opportunity to marry a same-sex couple. Much like their friendship, the day started with kindness and chemistry, signifying the start of a family.
They had the support of those they loved most.
After meeting through mutual friends in the summer of 2011, Kathy Collins and Jessica MacNamara found themselves intrigued by one another. However, distance became an obstacle since Jessica was living in Buffalo and Kathy attended graduate school in New Jersey. Determined to make their instant connection last, they spent the first year of their courtship meeting halfway between their two homes. After that year of long-distance dating, Kathy decided to transfer to Buffalo to continue their relationship in closer proximity. Two years after they first met, Kath planned an Independence Day proposal, but it wasn't quite as full of fireworks as she anticipated. How come? Because Jess declined her invitation to marriage—with a caveat: "Ask me again in two years."
She did, this time on the dock outside of their apartment, to which she received an enthusiastic "Yes!" They decided to move forward with a legal love, thanks to support of those closest to them. "We felt like our community really came together and made our wedding perfect through lots of hard work. At times it was stressful, but we felt absolutely surrounded by love on our wedding day. Our parents, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephew, aunts and uncles, and friends made it possible," Kathy shared.
They wanted to exercise their rights.
From the beginning, Karla General and Josie Raphaelito shared a thread of history: They're both from different tribal nations—Navajo and Mohawk—and first met at an Electric Pow Wow show in Washington, D.C. Karla says that it was their passion for running and dedicated work in the areas of indigenous and human rights that created their loving foundation. After dating for a while, Josie decided to pop the question to Karla after bike riding to the National Arboretum, where she counter proposed at their favorite coffee shop. This was a surprising move, especially since neither bride intended on getting hitched.
"Early on in our relationship, we communicated that marriage was not something we saw for ourselves. We loved each other and that was enough for us. But when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, we found ourselves cheering alongside others on the steps of the Supreme Court, and feeling empowered to exercise our newfound rights to the fullest. We also came to the realization that we both wanted to make sure we had rights to care for one another as we grew old together. We were in it for the long haul," Karla shared.
They wanted to demonstrate their commitment.
After Brian Tran experienced a number of terrible dates, he admits he was this close to deleting his online dating account. Luckily, his roommate convinced him to stick with it and, just a few days later, he found himself noticing a mystery man who kept stopping by his profile but not messaging. That's how he met Benjamin Maimin. After that first date, they were inseparable and spent six years building their life together.
"During the span of our relationship, we have watched the evolution of marriage equality in our country, from celebrating the deciding vote as New York State granted same-sex marriage to eventually shedding tears together when we learned of the momentous Supreme Court decision," Brian shared. "Even if it's not intentional, every LGBT marriage makes a statement, a representation of our earned rights together as a committed, loving couple. When we decided to spend the rest of our lives together, we both knew immediately we wanted to demonstrate it through the institution of marriage." Brian popped the question, and the two tied the knot with a destination wedding in Puerto Rico.