Newlyweds celebrate their first Valentine’s Days as married couples

Every, Valentine's Day serves as an opportunity for loving couples across the country to take the time to reflect on their relationships and show how deeply they care for each other. And this year, same-sex couples in states across the country have more to celebrate than ever! The freedom to marry took effect in 18 states - from Montana and Utah to South Carolina and Alabama - and the national momentum is continuing to build toward a clear consensus: That all of America is ready for marriage, and that it's time for the United States Supreme Court to end discrimination in the 13 states that continue to deny the freedom to marry. 

As the country continues to move forward on marriage and build toward an exciting case at the U.S. Supreme Court, which we hope brings national resolution as soon as this summer, we take the time this week to celebrate the thousands of same-sex couples celebrating their first Valentine's Day as a married couple - and look forward to the day when all couples who want to marry can be married Valentines. Here's a look at some great couples from across the country celebrating their first married February 14:

Tori Sisson & Shanté Wolfe • Montgomery, AL

Tori and Shanté were one of the very first same-sex couples in the state of Alabama to tie the knot on Monday, February 9, a historic day where hundreds of couples across the state said “I do.” The women have been dating for years, and they’ve been living together as a married couple for the past year. “She trapped me,” Tori joked to Freedom to Marry, referencing their first date filled with Jimmy Hendrix tunes. Before they married this week, the women said, “I’m not going to go anywhere else to be married. If everything else I do is here, why should I go somewhere else to get married?”

Josh Perkins & Brandon Braaten • Missoula, MT

This year, Brandon and Josh had a ceremony in Cancún, Mexico, because they could not get married in their home state of Montana. But, this fall, the couple could at last be officially married in their home state when a federal judge in Montana struck down the state’s law denying the freedom to marry. Now, they’re celebrating their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, and they couldn’t be more thrilled. "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.

Amanda & Krista Osterwyk-McKnight • Billings, MT

""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. In the past year, the couple’s child was born, and they were 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."

Sade & Nic McNizzi  • New York, NY

"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."

Rachael & Amber Beierle • Boise, ID

"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."

Monique & Jeannie Jones • Farmington, MN

Earlier this year, Monique and Jeannie married in their home state of Minnesota, and they shared their beautiful, moving wedding video with Freedom to Marry. 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 country where every couple can share that.

Judy & Collista Shae Mahone • Fayetteville, AR

In May, in the days following a historic ruling from Arkansas Circuit Judge Chris Piazza striking down the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, Collista and Judy were one of the more than 500 same-sex couples who at last were able to legally marry. "I am so thankful for Judy," Collista said this year. "I am thankful that we married in May, and I'm looking forward to our wedding in April 2015!"

Angela & Kelli • Kansas City, KS

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."

Leeann & Chastity Kee • Sevierville, TN

"We are from Tennessee and traveled with twelve of our family members and friends to Chicago, IL to tie the knot," LeeAnn said. "We got married on December 10 of this year, our 4-year anniversary! We are so blessed that we are now legally married in Illinois.” Still, despite the joy - and despite celebrating their first married Valentine’s Day - Leeann and Chastity are not respected in their home state. They hope that changes this year when the United States Supreme Court rules on the freedom to marry this summer. “We definitely don't regret our choice of traveling, but it would have been so much easier if our state acknowledged our marriage,” LeeAnn said. “Our next step is building our dream home and adopting a child - and we can't wait until the freedom to marry comes to Tennessee."

Cheryl & Amber Kellog • Wichita, KS

"Amber and I met in 2006 through our job," Cheryl said. The couple were thrilled when the freedom to marry came to their state this year. "We both knew we had a connection, and years later we reconnected and fell in love. We welcomed our daughter in September of this year and we were able to tie the knot legally in November. Valentine's Day is special to us because it marks the anniversary of the day we found out we were pregnant with our daughter."

Jay Reedy & Mark Mazza • Sandusky, OH

"Mark and I are coming up to our 5 years as a couple and April 30th will make a year since we married," Jay said. The couple married in Baltimore last year, but their marriage is not yet respected in their home state of Ohio -- something that they hope will be changed this summer when the United States Supreme Court rules on the freedom to marry. "Our love grows stronger each moment we continue building our lives together."

Renea Hinds & Paige Rochus • Gadsden, AL

Renea and Paige were married this week in Alabama! The couple is thrilled to finally be able to make it legal in their home state. “I don’t need a piece of paper to prove that I love her, but it will be relieving to have these protections,” Renea said. “I’m proud of our state. It’s been a journey, but we are really proud.”

Marcelino & Edwin Valencap • Los Angeles, CA

Marcelino and Edwin were married in the fall of last year, in a wedding that included a surprise cheerleading routine. After the excitement of their wedding, they've settled into a delightful marriage and are looking forward to this Valentine’s Day. "Being married has been the greatest feeling in the world," Marcelino said. "Getting to be united, emotionally and legally has by far been our one of our biggest accomplishment as a couple. Married life is amazing, getting to share every day with the person I love most! I can't wait to see what else the future has in store for us, because life so far has been extremely fabulous.”

Anisha & Julie Lancaster-Brooks • Delray Beach, FL

Anisha and Julie were married last year in California, then returned to their hometown in Florida to have a celebration of their marriage surrounded by their family and friends. Now, as of January, their marriage is legal in their home state, and they're delighted. "I always knew I would marry the perfect person for me, and I did! Now actually being married legally is surreal. I am so happy to have a partner that I can count on for the rest of my life," Anisha said. "I can't wait to start a family with the person I love!"

Jeff Robertson & Jeremiah Pyant • Houston, TX

Jeff and Jeremiah got engaged in 2013 on a beautiful beach in Mexico, and their wedding last year in New Mexico was just as fantastic - as winners in a contest from the American Civil Liberties Union, they flew in a helicopter from their home in Texas across state lines to New Mexico, and the experience was magical, they said. This year, Jeff and Jeremiah are hopeful that their marriage will at last be respected in Texas. “Marriage for mean is the epitome of a relationship between two people,” Jeff said. “You have to always continue working on it and nourishing it while loving each other through every situation. We want to be able to do that in Texas.” Read their full profile on Texas For Marriage's website here.

Jeff & Todd • Miami, FL

Jeff and Todd had a whirlwind January. They were the second same-sex couple to be married in Florida on January 6, a result of the court case in which they served as plaintiffs with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Florida, and then, they were invited to attend the State of the Union Address. Just before the State of the Union, they told the Miami Herald, “It’s been so exciting in the last two weeks to see thousands of couples who’ve gone out and are professing their love and commitment to each other by getting married, getting their marriage licenses - not to mention the untold thousands of couples who had gone out of state and gotten married and now finally their home state recognizes their marriage as valid and recognizes their families as having the same values as any other family.”