After year of momentum, same-sex couples and families give thanks on Thanksgiving
November 26, 2014
This holiday season, as we spend time with our family, we feel thankful for what we've accomplished this year -- we've won the freedom to marry in eighteen states (for a total of 35 and our nation's capital) and seen marriage move forward across the country. From Utah to Florida to Pennsylvania, marriage is moving forward - and we won't stop until same-sex couples nationwide are free to marry the person they love.
As we remain hopeful and steadfast in winning the freedom to marry nationwide, these 21 same-sex couples share what they're thankful for this past year, and their hopes for the coming year.
Andra Peterson & Raileen Clark-Peterson • Idaho
"My wife and I just recently celebrated our 1-year anniversary, on November 15, 2013," Andra said. "We were legally married in California, but since then, my home state of Idaho has recognized our marriage." Andra and Raileen live in Boise, where Andra works as a range technician at Boise District Fire. Photo by Jeramie Lu Photography
Josh Perkins & Brandon Braaten • Montana
This year, Brandon and Josh had a marriage ceremony in Cancún, Mexico, because they could not get married in their home state of Montana. But, as of November 20, the couple can now offically be married in their city, Missoula. "We are ecstatic!" Josh said. The couple is eternally grateful for the support shown by their community members and family, as well. “We’ve been treated really well. Everybody knows and nobody cares,” Josh said of their relationship.
Bobby Scofield & RaShaun Holliman • Georgia
This year, Bobby and Rashaun got engaged, much to their son's joy. "I really have a dream of having my Gram there," RaShaun said, referencing their future wedding. However, in their state of Georgia, they can't get married yet -- but they remain hopeful that, by next year, they will be able to have their dream wedding in their home city of Atlanta.
Kena Lawson & Julia • Kentucky
Kena and Julia married this year on November 20 in Indiana, crossing the border into the Hoosier state from their home state of Kentucky. As they're hoping for the United States Supreme Court to reverse this month's out-of-step marriage ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, they're grateful that they were able to marry in Indiana this year, and they're hopeful to see the freedom to marry in their home state very soon. "We're thankful for being able to be a foster parents and having such an accepting family," Kena said. "These children opened our eyes to so many new things. We're so thankful we can give them stability, love, family and things they may not been able to experience ir have. People tell us everyday that these kids are so blessed to have us but in reality we're the ones that are truly blessed."
Amanda & Krista Osterwyk-McKnight • Montana
"It was so important to us to be legally married and share a last name before our little nugget arrives, to unite us legally as a family," Amanda, who lives in Billings with her wife, Krista, said earlier this fall. The couple's child was born just a few weeks ago, but since last week, they have now become officially respected as a married couple - and legal family - in the state of Montana. " I am also a member of the United States Air Force, and with both my jobs being hazardous I wanted my family to be taken care of if anything were to happen," Amanda explained further. "Krista is the most loving, strong, supportive woman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I am so lucky she choose me to share her life with! Love is such an amazing thing, and everyone deserves it."
Juan Carlos Rodriguez & David Price • Florida
Juan Carlos and David are plaintiffs fighting for marriage in Florida, and they look forward to the day when Florida will finally respect them as a family. "Because we are also a binational couple and could not be legally married, immigration complications delayed our ability to have children – but like any challenge, the reward was so worth the work it took to get there. On September 27, 2010, our dreams came true and we were blessed with twins, Sofia and Christian," Juan Carlos said.
Dawn & Lana Haltom • Tennessee
In October, Lana and Dawn, who have been together for more than 20 years, traveled from Lebanon, Tennessee to Vermont in order to marry. They brought more than a dozen of their closest friends and family members with them to witness their love and support their commitment, which Dawn says was especially important to her. "We feel so blessed to have the support of our family," she said. "The outpouring of love has exceeded anything I have ever imagined."
Abhinav Vats Schamber & Tom Schamber • Oregon
Abhinav, a social worker and artist from India and his husband Tom, an accountant from Oregon, married in 2013 in California and celebrated their honeymoon in India. This year, they are thankful for how far the United States has moved forward on the freedom to marry while also expressing hope that change will soon come to the entire country - and the rest of the world. "We are sending good wishes of positivity and hope for all living beings in the world to live in peace and love each other just the way we are," Abhinav, who lives in Eugene, said.
Larry & Juan Clinton • New York
In October, Larry and Juan celebrated their first anniversary as a married couple in New York! This year, Larry says, "My husband and I are very thankful for our family here in NYC and our Guatemala family visiting us for the holidays. We are also very thankful for same-sex marriage being passed in so many other states since our own marriage last year."
Ashley & Jeska Sanders • Arizona
"Thanks to recent changes in Arizona, our marriage is finally recognized," Ashley said this year. "We held a private ceremony in Glendale for our closest friends and family and legally married in California a month later." Then, in October, a federal judge affirmed the freedom to marry in Arizona and the women finally were respected as married. "The decision couldn't make Jeska and me any happier," Ashley said.
Sade & Nic McNizzi • New York
"This year we are giving thanks for each other and our amazing family and friends," Nic said, reflecting on her wedding to the love of her life, Sade. "We are also grateful for the freedom to marry and the recognition of our marriage by the U.S. military. We are thankful that our military service no longer requires that we sacrifice our identity. We are honored to serve and to have our marriage treated with the same validity as other military families."
Erica & Bianca Romero Favela • Texas
October 4 of this year marked Erica and Bianca's first wedding anniversary, one year since they said "I do" and promised their commitment to each other in New Mexico. Then this year, they welcomed a child into their life. "We have been together for 5 years now and we have been looking forward to the day that we could have a child. This year on March 4 we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy," Erica said. "Our Little family has expanded and we are so thankful to be able to have a healthy son and a loving family that supports our love. I am very thankful to be able to come home everyday and to have my wife and son waiting for me. We have come a long way to get here, and the journey has been worth fighting for."
Rachael & Amber Beierle • Idaho
"When we first started the process we thought it could be a long shot, and we had out doubts. Soon, all of those doubts completely disappeared. We remained positive even when there were hiccups, because we knew there was going to be hiccups," Rachael said, referring to joining the Idaho marriage case. "We heard little opposition, and almost all support for marriage equality in Idaho. I know we can't make everyone happy, but I sure got to see some of the happiest smiles on earth at that courthouse in October. That made it all worth it. Amber and I our expecting our 1st child in May, and so with that being said, this holiday season we are grateful for marriage equality, which in turns brings family equality, and our newest family addition."
Tommy Starling & Jeff Littlefield • South Carolina
"I am thankful for the opportunity to be a daddy to two amazingly beautiful and brilliant children," Tommy said. This year, Tommy and Jeff's marriage was finally respected in the state that they love. "I am thankful to have a loving and supportive husband and to finally have my family be legally recognized in our home state of South Carolina."
Monique & Jeannie Jones • Minnesota
Earlier this year, Monique and Jeannie married in their home state of Minnesota, and they shared their beautiful, moving wedding video with us. Watch the video here. "This year my family is thankful for the fact that we were able to get married and have our marriage be recognized in our home state - a state that allowed us to protect our children and thrive without prejudice," Jeannie, who lives in Farmington with her family, said. "We pray that we will soon live in a coutry where every couple can share that."
Gary Lelito & Chris DiGiovanni • Michigan
"We have been together since April 1993," Gary said. He and his husband, Chris, have been together for over 21 years, and married in California. And yet, their love and commitment is still not respected in their home state of Michigan. Still, the couple is hopeful that in the coming year, their state will respect their marriage.
Judy & Collista Shae Mahone • Arkansas
In May, in the days following the historic ruling from Arkansas Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, Collista and Judy were one of the more than 500 same-sex couples who at last were able to legally marry in their home state of Arkansas. "I am so thankful for Judy," Collista, who lives in Fayetville, said this year. "I am thankful that we married in May, and I'm looking forward to our wedding in April 2015!"
Jimetta & Lisa Mankin • Indiana
This year, Jimetta and Lisa got married in Illinois, and just months later, their marriage was officially respected in Indiana. "We are thankful that we have our love and our family," said Jimetta Mankin. "We are raising two of our granddaughters, and we finally were able to get legally married. Our grandbabies were so excited, our family was all there -- it was a very beautiful day."
Theresa & Rosemarie Zugner-Pomeroy • Arizona
This year, Theresa and Rosemarie's marriage -- which they previously made legal in Washington -- was finally respected in their home state. "We are currently foster parents, working to bring a 16 year-old young man into our home who identifies as gay, we would be able to adopt him next year," Theresa said -- because their marriage is respected, they will have an easier time welcoming this boy into their family.
Jordan & Joshua Chester-Johnson • Missouri
Jordan and Joshua, who is in the United States Army, married in 2013 and were respected federally as a married couple - but now, thanks to a court ruling from October, they are at last respected in the Show Me State! "We are thankful for a our friends and families and their support," Jordan and Joshua, who live in Waynesville, said. "We are also thankful for Jesus, who loves us no matter what. And we are thankful for the court systems who are finally realizing that same-sex couples are people, too and deserve to have the same freedoms granted to everyone one else."
Angela & Kelli • Kansas
Angela and Kelli had been waiting to marry in their home state for a long time -- desperately looking towards the day they could raise their children as a "real" family. "Finally, in October, the Federal 10th Circuit Court found our state’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. The next day, Kelli and I went to our local courthouse, in Johnson County Kansas, to pick up a marriage license application," Angela said. In fact, they were the first. "While there is still significant progress to be made in Kansas, our family is incredibly thankful this holiday season to be the first same-sex couple married."