14 Photos: Our First Valentine’s Day as a Married Couple

Every February 14, 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. But for many same-sex couples in the United States, Valentine's Day has been a reminder of the fact that despite their love and commitment for each other, they do not have the freedom to marry.

This year, thousands of couples won the freedom to marry when marriage passed at the ballot in Maine, Maryland, and Washington - and the community continues to celebrate victories across New England, in the District of Columbia, Iowa, and New York. As the country continues to move forward on marriage, 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 14 great couples celebrating their first married February 14: 

Sam Champion and Rubem Robierb

New York, NY - Together 2 years - Married December 21, 2012

 Good Morning America weather anchor Sam Champion and Rubem Robierb, an artist, had a busy end to 2012 with dual wedding ceremonies. While they officially married in NYC in December, they rang in the New Year by traveling to Rubem's hometown of Miami for an additional ceremony on New Year's Eve, a year after Rubem proposed to Sam. "We don't really have a ‘Valentine's Day thing,'" Rubem told Freedom to Marry. "We usually just say that we live in a Valentine's Day mood." (Photo Courtesy of Rubem Robierb)

Sue Fulton & Penny Gnesin

Asbury Park, NJ - Together 17 Years - Married Dec. 1, 2012 

It's been a crazy few weeks for Sue and Penny, who became the first same-sex couple ever to marry in the Cadet Chapel at West Point - Sue's alma mater - in December. Both women are highly involved with OutServe-SLDN (and Sue was a founding board member of OutServe), so they've been busy working through a flurry of recent changes in the military, including opening combat roles to women and extending protections to same-sex couples. They're proud to be the first same-sex couple to marry at West Point, but they await the day that their marriage can be respected in their home state of New Jersey. (Photo: Jeff Sheng)

Jamelle and Karane Thomas-Williams

Washington, D.C. - Together 4 years - Married October 11, 2012

After getting married in a beautiful wedding ceremony in DC just a few months ago, Jamelle and Karane - who serve in the U.S. military and on the Washington, D.C. Police Force, respectively - are enjoying a relaxed Valentine's Day this year. "Our usual date nights include doing something together, like playing board games, going to the movies, or out to eat," Jamelle said. "Then we usually drive around different neighborhoods looking for our future dream house or just getting lost in the city. It sounds boring - but it's good quality time with just us. Our schedules are so busy, and we cherish those quiet moments together."

Corianton Hale & Keith Bacon

Seattle, WA - Together 6 years - Married December 9, 2012

Cori and Keith are thrilled to call each other husbands for their first Valentine's Day this year. They'll celebrate alongside their friends Jenny and Johnny, with whom they've spent every February 14 since 2007. The two couples collaboratively prepare a four-course meal centered around a romantic theme, and this year, the theme is "Amore es Muy Caliente" - dishes with a spicy kick to them. Cori and Keith are excited to share their day with Johnny and Jenny, who pitched into Washington's campaign for the freedom to marry through fundraising. "We couldn't have done it without them," Cori said. (Photo: Kristen Marie Parker)

Corrie Sharp and Jennifer Tom

San Diego, CA - Together 10 years - Married September 27, 2012

Corrie and Jennifer used to work together in the same restaurant - and when you work at a restaurant, it's nearly impossible to take off for Valentine's Day, one of the busiest nights of the year. Their Valentine's Day celebrations, therefore, have typically been restricted to hanging out at the restaurant - although, Corrie explained, "We always made sure to be together even if we were just passing by each other with trays while we waited on other couples enjoying their special dinner." This year - their first February 14 since flying cross-country to tie the knot in Provincetown, MA - Jennifer has a 9-5 job, and Corrie finally has a day off. They'll be spending the night at a beautiful hotel in San Diego, sharing dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. Their first year as a married couple will also mark the first year of sharing a special Valentine's Day together.

Yohandel Ruiz and Daniel Zavala

Miami, FL and Monterrey, Mexico - Together 2 years - Married May 1, 2012

If anyone has experienced love at first sight, it's Yohandel and Daniel, who met nearly two years ago when Daniel was vacationing in Miami Beach, met Yohandel, and experienced an instant connection. After Daniel's trip was over, the men continued a long-distance relationship and explored ways to stay together in the United States. On Valentine's Day 2012, Yohandel proposed to Daniel, and they married in Washington, D.C. Now, like so many other married binational same-sex couples, Yohandel and Daniel are working with The DOMA Project to fight for Daniel's green card, which they can't get because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Yohandel said: "We're fighting to be able to celebrate this Valentine's Day - and every Valentine's Day - together and not to be forced apart." The couple shared their story last year with The DOMA Project, which you can watch HERE. (Photo: Joanna Chau) 

Mario Pabón and Jason McAllister

New York, NY - Together 7 years - Married September 1, 2012

In the third year of their relationship, Mario studied abroad in London, England, meaning that he and Jason would be separated by the Atlantic Ocean for six months. To make the distance seem less insurmountable on Valentine's Day, Jason sent Mario a GameBoy version of Pokemón ("We're huge nerds," Mario explained) that enabled players to connect with a headset and talk while playing the game. "Those were our ‘date nights' while I was away," Mario said. This year, they're excited to spend the day as a happily married couple after tying the knot in a beautiful ceremony in Astoria on their seventh anniversary. (Photo by Merlardo Productions Ltd. - Anthony J. Merced and Jennifer Gallardo)

Ashley and Cassandra Moore

Wilmington, NC - Together 8 years - Married January 23, 2013

This year marked the end of a long engagement for Ashley and Cassandra, who have been engaged to marry since June 2010. The couple, who had met five years earlier while attending college together, were inspired this January by their favorite song, "January Wedding" by the Avett Brothers, and decided to drive up to New York City and tie the knot on January 23, 2013, exactly ten years after they met. They have nothing extravagant planned for Valentine's Day. Cassandra explained, "For us, it's not just about one special day. We treat each day we're given together on this Earth as a special day that we try to live and enjoy to the fullest." 

Mathew Hauf-Falabella and Gregory Falabella-Hauf

Jacksonville, FL - Together 2 years - Married January 24, 2013

As a Baltimore native, Mathew was thrilled this November when Marylanders came together to vote for Question 6, which upheld the freedom to marry across the state. The victory came at the perfect time: Just a few months before, the men had gotten engaged while vacationing in Puerto Rico. In January, they flew from their home together in Jacksonville to Mathew's home state and tied the knot in a private ceremony with their closest family and friends. In his vows, Mathew told Gregory, "Our lives will be filled with ups and downs, but one thing is for certain - I will always be there next to you. You will never be alone. We're going to conquer the world together."

Cathy Davis and Catriona Dowling

Boulder, CO - Together 6 years - Married May 23, 2012

Last year, Valentine's Day wasn't a happy occasion for Cathy and Catriona - Cathy, who is from Dublin, Ireland and is not a U.S. citzen, had just been denied her Visa, which would have allowed her to permanently stay in the United States with her wife and their three children. In May, they traveled to Council Bluffs, Iowa to marry, and in the past year, they've worked harder than ever to speak out against DOMA, which restricts Catriona from sponsoring her wife for immigration purposes, through The DOMA Project. In January, they participated in a green card interview, and they're are optimistic that in 2013, the Supreme Court will stand on the Right Side of History this year by repealing DOMA. "This Valentine's Day, we're going to celebrate with our children and declare our love for each other," Catriona explained. "We hope that next year's Valentine's Day we can plan for our future with Cathy's green card in hand and DOMA behind us."

Christopher Boudywns and Carl Byrd

New York, NY - Together 10 years - Married May 27, 2012

This Valentine's Day, Christopher and Carl will have their hands full with their adorable three-year-old daughter Harper, who loves enjoying holidays with her fathers. "Now that Harper is in the picture, Valentine's Day is about making it special for her," Christopher said. He recalled the great year they've spent as a family, including trips to Iowa for New Year's with Chris' family, Florida for a visit with Carl's family, and a cruise to Bermuda for their honeymoon after their NYC wedding, which coincided with their 10-year anniversary. As for special plans for Harper's fathers on Valentine's Day, Christopher explained, "I'm sure Daddy and Papa will exchange cards." (Photo: Ro Agents at Les Loups)

Lindsey and Kelly Miller

Port Orchard, WA - Together 2 years - Married November 4, 2012

Two days before the 2012 Election, on their second anniversary as a couple, American Military Partner Association members Lindsey and Kelly gathered all of their friends and family together for their wedding ceremony at the roller skating rink where they play together on a derby team. After saying their vows, they shared their "First Skate" together as a married couple - and two days later, they rejoiced when they saw the Washington state election results confirm that voters in the state chose to uphold the freedom to marry. In December, when the state's marriage law took effect, they made their union legal by marrying at the WA Capitol building. Now, they're celebrating their first Valentine's Day as a married couple in the middle of preparing for a move to Hawaii, where Lindsey will soon be stationed for her career in the U.S. military.

Timothy Young and Mark Maxwell

Winston-Salem, NC - Together 25 years - Married January 17, 2013

Last month, Timothy and Mark celebrated their wedding in Washington, D.C. as a happy ending to the Campaign for Southern Equality's "We Do" action, where same-sex couples in the South applied for and were denied marriage licenses. As they approach their first Valentine's Day as a married couple, Mark and Tim reflected on previous Valentine's Days together. One in particular sticks out: Mark invited Tim over to dinner, where he cooked an authentic "down home" southern dish: beef liver and onions in gravy with rice and greens. The only problem? Mark didn't know that Tim was a vegetarian. It didn't matter to Tim - "He ate it, smiled, and he's still here," Mark said, adding, "Since then, we've both learned a lot about each other and healthy eating. This year our Valentine's Day will involve an intense workout and a healthy dinner in preparation for our spring honeymoon in Hawaii."

Tracy Jewell and Rachelle Barnes

Seattle, WA - Together 5 years - Married January 26, 2013

Tracy and Rachelle have known each other for nearly nearly 13 years - they met in 2000 while training together in the Air Force ROTC at the University of Alabama. They became fast friends, and in 2008, decided to date. "It was instantly ‘right,'" Tracy explained. After celebrating a private commitment ceremony in Hawaii in 2011, they took advantage of the freedom to marry in Washington state - upheld by voters this fall - and married legally in front of their friends and family. "It was absolutely perfect. It made us so happy to share that day with our family and friends," Tracy said. Now, Tracy and Rachelle are celebrating their first married Valentine's Day by preparing to extend their family by welcoming into the world a baby boy in June.