California “Guncles” Bill and Scout: How the freedom to marry will protect our family

This spring marks the fourth anniversary of Bill Horn and Scout Masterson's May 2009 commitment ceremony, which they celebrated in Palm Springs, CA after being together for over 7 years. It also marks the third birthday of their adorable little girl, Simone, who they welcomed into the world in June 2010 after years of exploring their adoption options. And on top of these important anniversaries, Bill and Scout are also hoping that this spring, the U.S. Supreme Court moves marriage forward by striking down Proposition 8, which stripped same-sex couples in CA of the freedom to marry in 2008, and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal protections to legally married same-sex couples. 

Bill and Scout, who you'll recognize as "The Guncles" - gay uncles - to the children of actress Tori Spelling and her husband Dean McDermott on Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood, watched last month's Supreme Court hearings closely, as the rulings stand to doubly impact their family. If the freedom to marry is restored in California and DOMA is overturned, the couple of 11 years can legally marry and ensure that their marriage is respected at the federal level.

"To see Prop 8 and DOMA overturned would be fantastic," Bill said. "It would mean that in the eyes of the law, our relationship is as valid as anyone else's - and that includes all of the protections that marriage affords."

Bill and Scout met over 11 years ago on Super Bowl Sunday at a Grease sing-along charity event for an HIV/AIDS foundation in Hollywood. They met through mutual friends, hit it off, grew very close, and, as they say, the rest is history. They became domestic partners in California a few years later, which provided their relationship some measure of legal protection. (Photo by Jessica Lewis Photography)

Over the next several years, Bill and Scout became close friends with Tori, Dean, and their children. The couple would often baby-sit and look after the kids when Tori and Dean needed help. They quickly became a key extension of the family unit, and the kids started calling Bill and Scout their "guncles," looking up to them as important role models.

In 2008, they celebrated when the CA Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could marry in the state - but they weren't one of the 18,000 couples who immediately tied the knot in the 5-month period between May 2008 and November 2008, when Proposition 8 was passed at the ballot to take away loving couples' freedom to marry.

They regret not marrying before the passage of Proposition 8. "We had been domestic partners for years, and when marriage was legal, we both didn't feel the need to run out and get married because it wasn't federal and it didn't afford us rights we didn't already have as domestic partners," Bill explained. "But then, when Prop 8 passed, it felt like a punch in the gut. We didn't realize how important it was until they took it away." 

The next year, as they watched opponents of Proposition 8 move marriage forward through the courts in CA, the 9th Circuit, and beyond, the couple decided that they wanted to host a commitment ceremony, one that confirmed their promise to each other and signaled hope for a day when they could legally marry in the state they call home.

"We wanted to host a celebration that meant something to us instead of just having our domestic partnership paperwork. We felt that no one had ever gotten together and celebrated us," Bill laughed. "We had been together nearly ten years and been to 25 weddings and countless anniversary parties, and we felt like it was our turn. We wanted to celebrate our relationship and do it with our families."

The commitment ceremony also served as a symbolic step toward a new chapter in their life together: Their experiences as "Guncles" got them excited about expanding their own family, and that year, they began pursuing an open adoption for a daughter of their own. "We looked at the commitment ceremony as a life milestone as we moved into the adoption process," Scout said.

Simone was born on June 7, 2010, with Bill and Scout both holding the birth mother's hand. The experience led to Bill and Scout founding Hold My Hand, a mentoring service for adoptive parents. "While on our journey, we wished there was someone there to hold our hand," the couple says on their website. "We're two Dads who have been through the adoption process and want to help others through theirs."

Bill and Scout clearly love being parents. They use their social media platforms to share photos of Simone and give fans a glimpse into their lives as a family. They get excited about preschool parades and work to ensure that each holiday - Easter, Christmas, and Valentine's Day, and everyday - is special for Simone.

Whatever happens with the Supreme Court in June, Bill and Scout already know that it's going to be another big month: It's Simone's third birthday, and the Guncles plan to celebrate in style. "It's a Doc McStuffins-themed party," Bill explained, laughing. "You don't know what that is, but we do. And it's a big deal in our house." 

Still, the couple is hoping that Simone gets an extra special birthday present shortly after she turns 3: The chance to see her fathers marry, after over a decade of commitment. "Being married would mean so much for us. I would love to not have to explain to Simone why her two daddies aren't married," Scout said. "And we definitely don't want to explain to her that our family isn't considered to be 'equal' to other families. Whatever the bias is about marriage equality, just remember: At the end of the day our family is just like yours. If you don't think that, then chances are you don't know any gay families. Remember, if one of your children is gay, they won't be able to marry the love of their life either. And what parent can vote to deny that?" (Photo Frances Iacuzzi Photography)

Photo by Jessica Lewis Photography, Other Photos courtesy of Bill Horn & Scout Masterston