As their first anniversary approaches, Bobbi and Jen hope marriage passes in Maryland

When you perform in a rock band with your significant other, it's natural to develop a very close, very special bond. You spend tons of time together practicing and playing and doing something you both love. You quickly learn the power of non-verbal communication, working as a team to perfect a performance on stage. You always have a new thing to talk about, a new album to praise, a new song to dissect. Your passions converge and thrive off of each other.

Bobbi and Jen Buchman have rock music to thank for igniting their relationship over three years ago. After meeting through a mutual friend, Jen and Bobbi discovered their shared love for making and listening to music, and in 2008, Jen joined Bobbi's band, The State of You. The two became fast friends, and Bobbi viewed Jen as a musical mentor, and after a year and a half of friendship, the women, who live just East of Baltimore, Maryland, began dating.

"I think we sort of bonded on a different level than most other couples do - couples who don't do the same thing, who don't share the same passion like we do," Bobbi said about her time in the band with Jen. "It's definitely been really fun. We've been together in this band every step of the way - at each other's side and a part of that growing process together."

A year and a half after they started dating, Jen asked Bobbi to marry her. On a rainy day in July, Jen tricked Bobbi to go for a walk through a park they frequented toward the beginning of their relationship. After a few minutes, Jen stopped by a tree, kissed Bobbi, and surprised her by pulling out a ring box.

"I was babbling - like I do in intense moments," Bobbi said. "And so she never actually got to ask the question. I said 'yes' before she actually got the words out."

The engagement ring wasn't just any ring - it was the ring, the one that Bobbi had her mind set on for years.

"I'm not your typical girl," Bobbi said. "I don't like to do the things that every other girl does, and I don't like to have the things that every other girl does. So I found this ring that was unique and looked like a butterfly, and I sent Jen a picture of it back when we were just friends. I told her, 'Someday, when I get engaged, this is the ring that I want. And when that time comes along, if that person gets down on one knee with any ring other than this, the answer will be no - not because I'm high-maintenance, but because if you get me a diamond solitaire like every other girl, you don't know who you're marrying.'"

Jen had the ring custom-made, determined to get it perfect for the love of her life. And when she opened the ring box, presented it to Bobbi, and saw her eyes light up, she knew she had fulfilled Bobbi's "perfect ring" fantasy.

Over the next year and a half, Jen and Bobbi worked to finance a wedding celebration. Although both sets of parents at first struggled to come to terms with their daughters' lesbian relationship, they eventually completed their journey and supported the wedding.

Bobbi said that she's learned a lot about love and commitment from her parents.

"My parents have been married for 35 years and are still completely in love. They say it's because they're best friends" Bobbi said. "I've been waiting to find that person for myself - and Jen is it. She is in every way my best friend, my other half. We both push each other to be our best, and I couldn't ask for a better partner, because she is my 'partner' in every sense of the word. We're a team. And being married means never having to go through anything alone ever again."

On November 19, 2011, Jen and Bobbi got married at the historic Belvedere building in Baltimore. They had a friend who is a Justice of the Peace perform the ceremony, and they had some of their musician friends play music while they walked down the aisle. In front of their friends and family members, they said "I do."

Despite the wonderful celebration, Jen and Bobbi understand that their wedding and their marriage are not legally respected in Maryland. Same-sex couples in Maryland do not have the freedom to marry. But this year, advocates of the freedom to marry have been working hard to pass Question 6 at the ballot, which would allow for civil marriage between same-sex couples while protecting the freedom of religious institutions.

In a few weeks, Jen and Bobbi hope that the people of Maryland will vote FOR Question 6, which would uphold the freedom to marry that was passed by both houses of the state legislature in March. They hope that soon, they can apply for a valid marriage license, turn their marriage into one respected by their state, and enjoy the same protections and responsibilities that marriage affords different-sex married couples in Maryland.

"I think it's ridiculous to claim that gay people getting married will somehow deteriorate the fabric of marriage as an institution," Bobbi said, pointing to her own marriage with Jen and their quickly approaching one-year anniversary. "Why would you want to keep people who would bring something good to the table out of this 'club'? Those of us right now who are holding our marriages together through nothing but sheer will are doing so because we really want it - not because we have a piece of paper that says we have to. Having marriage in Maryland would really be about being respected as a legitimate couple - acknowledging that our relationship is real, our life is real, our love is real."

(Wedding Photos by L. Hewitt and Band Photos by Bridget Hunke)

Editors' Note: On November 6, 2012, voters in MaineMarylandMinnesota and Washington will be voting on marriage-related ballot measures. Mainers are being asked to vote YES on Question 1 to proactively pass the freedom to marry at the ballot. Residents in Washington and Maryland are being asked to vote to APPROVE Referendum 74 and to vote FOR Question 6, respectively, to uphold marriage laws passed by their state legislatures in February and March 2012. Minnesotans are being asked to vote NO on a proposed amendment that would constitutionally exclude same-sex couples from marriage. In these next two months before the election, Freedom to Marry will be profiling couples and volunteers for the state campaigns. Read more about the ballot initiatives HERE, and check back on the blog over the next five weeks for couples' stories.