Newlywed couple of 30 years wishes neighbors a ‘Married Christmas’ with lawn display

Every year in December, Freedom to Marry's Federal Director Jo Deutsch and her wife Teresa Williams decorate the front yard at their home in Cheverly, Maryland with holiday lawn ornaments. It's always a sight to see in their neighborhood, but this year, it's more special than ever. 

"For over 20 years, Teresa and I have included our not-so-subtle LGBT touch to our holiday display," Jo explained, referencing the Mrs. Claus lawn ornaments who stand side-by-side as vigilant guardians outside of their home each winter. "This year, I am thrilled to say the Mrs. Clauses are wearing wedding bands for the first time!"

The married Mrs. Clauses, of course, are surrogates for Jo and Teresa themselves, who celebrated their 30th anniversary this year - and this year are enjoying their first holiday season as a legally married couple.

On May 18, 2013, just one week before their official 30th anniversary, Jo and Teresa married in a gorgeous ceremony in Maryland, surrounded by their three loving children, family members, and friends. Earlier in 2013, the freedom to marry took effect across the state of Maryland after voters in the November 2012 election affirmed Question 6, a ballot measure to extend marriage protections to same-sex couples. 

Prior to the election, the women spoke out about why marriage matters in Maryland, sharing their story with Freedom to Marry. "We want to get married here," Teresa said at the time about why she and Jo wanted to marry where they raised their family and built their lives.

"It's significant that our children were born here," she continued. "It's significant that this is where we've made our home. It's significant that this is where we volunteer in the schools and participate in neighborhood activities. This is where we have lived most of our lives and it will be really significant for us to get married in Maryland. We are part of this community and we want to be treated equally here."

Now, at last, Jo and Teresa are married in Maryland - and what's more, their marriage is respected by the federal government thanks to the June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the central part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. 

It's been an amazing year - and Jo and Teresa know that they have a lot to be thankful for. They're thankful that their family had the chance to come together this year and celebrate their 30 years of love and commitment with a wedding. They're thankful that thousands of couples across the country finally have the freedom to marry and can have their marriages respected at the federal level. They're thankful that the country is continuing to move forward, with conversations about why marriage matters taking place in every single state. They're thankful that advocates and supporters - including their own family members - won't rest until the freedom to marry is the law of the land nationwide. 

And, of course, they're thankful that this year, they could draw wedding bands on their Mrs. Claus lawn ornaments and declare to the world - or at least their Cheverly, MD community - that they're proud to see how far the country has come on the freedom to marry. 

See more photos from Jo and Teresa's wedding HERE. And read more stories of loving same-sex couples HERE