America is ready: Same-sex couples show how long they’ve been waiting for the freedom to marry

Same-sex couples across the country have been waiting for years -- sometimes decades -- for the freedom to marry nationwide. From couples who saw marriage come to their home state in the past years to those who are still waiting for the United States Supreme Court to respect them where they live, these families know that the fight isn't over until every loving, committed couple is no longer banned from marriage. Read their stories -- and read more here.

Colin Rose & Paulo Francisco • Panorama City, CA

Colin and Paulo were married in California two years ago, but know that it is undeniably wrong that same-sex couples across the nation do not have that freedom. "Love is not defined by rigid barriers or by some narrowed view of what other people perceive love and marriage should be," Colin said. "Love and marriage is not defined by race, culture or even religion but by the language of the heart."

Bradley Kain & Scott Bridgeman • Palm Springs, CA

Scott and Bradley got married in California after 19 years together. The couple now lives in the state, but their families live in Ohio, where they visit often. “When we land at the airport in Kentucky we are magically unmarried again,” Bradley said. “When we cross the river to Cincinatti we are still unmarried. It is important to us to be married, no matter what state we are in.”

Bruce Reid & Bryndon Fisher • Camas, WA

Bruce and Bryndon were married in California in 2008, 26 years after starting their relationship. Today, they have been together for over three decades, and their marriage is respected in their home state -- but not across the nation. “All citizens should have an equal right to this privilege,” Bruce said. “The love two people of the same gender feel toward one another should be granted the same dignity as it is for heterosexual couples.”

Brian Merritt & Luis Sottil • Mission, TX

After 18 years together, Brian and Luis are still waiting to be able to marry in their home state of Texas. “We have been together through the good times and the bad, just like any other couple, but we are not recognized legally as anything other than roommates,” Brian said. “We deserve the same rights and recognition as any other committed couple.”

Cori & Beverly Morgan • Jacksonville, FL

Cori and Beverly were finally married this year in Florida -- 23 years after they began dating. “It is time for the freedom to marry nationally,” Cori said. “There’s no going back -- we must move forward.

Rev. Joseph Ianiro & John Opaluch • Wood-Ridge, NJ

Over three decades after they first met, Joseph and John were finally able to marry in their home state of New Jersey. Still, the couple knows that many families like theirs aren’t as lucky as they are to live in a state where they could wed. “Love isn’t determined by laws,” Joseph said. But, if marriage was the law of the land, thousands of families across the country would, once and for all, have the rights and responsibilities they deserve.

Jean Tomaselli & Ashley Clayborn • Burlington, NJ

Jean and Ashley were lucky enough to be able to marry in their home state of New Jersey last year, seven years after they met -- but they know this isn’t the case for many same-sex couples like them. “We want to support others who wish to do the same,” Jean said. “All committed couples, regardless of their orientation, should have a right to marry in every state!”

Vicki & Wendi Thomason • Montevallo, AL

Vicki and Wendi knew that they wanted to complete their family by getting married in 2013 -- but they had to travel all the way from Alabama to Rhode Island in order to do that. “We hope, soon, couples don’t have to leave their home state to marry,” Vicki said. “We had been together for 15 years when we finally go married.”

Kenneth Larsen & Mark Jackson • Midway, GA

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. When they returned home, their state treated them as if their wedding never happened. “Love must win,” Kenneth said. “Let the truth of our families thrive.

Kenneth Olsen & David Losee • Sandy, UT

It took Kenneth and David 24 years together to be able to marry in their home state of Utah, but they’re still not legally married in every state across the nation, despite waiting half a century. “Ruling for the freedom to marry is the right thing to do,” Kenneth said. “It’s so long overdue.”

Jan Polinsky & Nancy Clark • Lisbon, CT

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.”

Roman Jones & Bernard Jones • Brooklyn, NY

Over a decade after they met, Roman and Bernard celebrated their wedding surrounded by friends and family in New York -- but that’s not possible for so many families in the 13 states where the freedom to marry is not in effect. “We believe in equality,” Roman said. “We shouldn’t be limited to 37 states any longer. This is the year to bring marriage all over the United States.”

Dawn & Debran Harmon-O'Connor • Atlantic Beach, FL

“Brave men and women began this fight decades ago,” said Dawn, referencing the fight for the freedom to marry nationwide. “In so doing, others in the LGBT community and our allies joined in the struggle and work tirelessly to promote equality.” Dawn and her wife Debra were married in Washington, DC in 2013, and their marriage was finally respected in their home state of Florida this year!

Melanie Otte & Patricia Pineda • Carson, CA

Melanie and Patricia met in 1994 and instantly became best friends. After 14 years of friendship, they fell in love, and have been together ever since. “I believe that all people should have the option to marry when they choose and to whomever they choose,” Melanie said. “Everyone deserves the right to marry.”

Wayne Steinman & Sal Iacullo • New York, NY

Wayne and Sal met in 1972, while they were both working as teachers. In 1987, their daughter, Hope, came to them, and two years later, they had the first openly gay male adoption in New York. Their marriage was respected in New York in 2006, but they know it's a tragedy that all families aren't treated with the same respect. "We anxiously await the pending ruling of the SCOTUS on marriage equality," Wayne said. "To us it is just, it is fair, it is constitutional."

Jo Deutsch & Teresa Williams • Cheverly, MD

Jo and Teresa were married two years ago -- after being together for a full three decades. Although they were delighted on their wedding day, the couple knows it's more important than ever to end the patchwork of marriage laws across the country and bring the freedom to marry to the nation as a whole. In fact, Jo has worked for over four years, as Federal Director of Freedom to Marry, to make sure that happens. Read more about them here.