PHOTOS: Same-sex couples speak out on what they hope 2015 brings to the nation
December 23, 2014
This holiday season, families across the country are gathering together as 2014 draws to a close and we begin to usher in 2015. There's a lot to reflect on this year: We won the freedom to marry in eighteen states (for a total of 35 and our nation's capital) with the freedom to marry imminent in Florida even as an appeal proceeds to the 11th Circuit; and we've seen marriage move forward across the country. What's more is that we won't stop until same-sex couples nationwide are free to marry the person they love.
As we remain hopeful and steadfast in winning the freedom to marry nationwide, these 22 same-sex couples share what their hopes for 2015, and how they're committed to continuing to move marriage forward.
Malkia & Penelope McQueen • Houston, TX
"Penny and I are hopeful that our marriage will be respected and acknowledged in Texas," said Malkia, who married Penny in California. "We're so very happy in our lives, and we want everyone to have what we have without having to travel out of state to make that happen. We would like to have a child, and know that our state stands behind our family and supports our family. We would like to share a last name without having to petition the courts. We would like to be comfortable knowing that if something happens to us, we're protected because we are legally married. What we want is what every heterosexual couple is automatically guaranteed upon marriage. We would like for the state of Texas to give us our equal rights without a fight. Most importantly, we're hopeful for a wonderful and prosperous 2015."
Bobby Scofield & RaShaun Holliman • Atlanta, GA
"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."
Telisa McAbee & Kimberly Warren • Bridge City, TX
"We have decided not to marry in another state because we have hope in our fellow Texans," said Kimberly and Telisa, who have been together for more than 12 years and promised their commitment to each other in 2012. "We want to be legally recognized at home. We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. You're never too old to believe!"
Juan Luque & Patrick Duffy • Tampa, FL
Juan and Patrick are two proud fathers raising four amazing kids - Lorenzo, Lily, Liam and Leo - in the Sunshine State, and they're thrilled that at last, on January 6, the freedom to marry should be coming to Florida. "In the last two years, we've been wishing for Christmas to have the freedom to marry," Juan said. "Not only because we should have that freedom as citizens of this beautiful country, but because our children also deserve the same opportunities. We refused to marry in another state because we wanted it to be valid where we live, in Florida. A few days ago we got the news that SCOTUS rejected the extension of the sta, and we can get married starting January 6. What a great Christmas present! Our wishes are so close to be true!" Still, they know how important it is that the freedom to marry wins at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and they'll continue to speak out for the freedom to marry, even as they commemorate big life moments for their family. The dads share other photos of their wonderful family at 2 Dads + 4 Kids. Don't miss it!
Jill Calvin & Lori Pimlott-Calvin • Royal Oak, MI
"We hope that the Supreme Court makes a decision to make same sex marriage legal throughout the entire country," Jill and Lori said, lamenting that their home state has not yet extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. "We don't expect things will change on their own. We hope that one day everyone's family will accept them for who they are."
Andy Miller & Brian Stephens • Austin, TX
"We are hopeful that the fair-minded and caring people of Texas will wake up and realize that families that look different from theirs deserve to have the same rights and protections that they enjoy," say Andy and Brian, co-founders of the wonderful organization The Handsome Father (check out their website!), an important reason for dads or men aspiring to be fathers. "We are native Texans and would prefer to marry in our home state surrounded by our families and friends," they continued, referencing all of the work they have invested over the past few years into increasing support for same-sex parents and even speaking out directly for the freedom to marry with Equality Texas. "We want our son to grow up with two parents that are legally married and supported by the state we live in as welcome and wanted citizens."
Rachel Peterson & Jackie Martin • Canal Fulton, Ohio
Jackie and Rachel met while they were working together - Jackie was on Rachel's team of fifteen dietary aides in a nursing home, and over time, the women became close friends. Once the summer rolled around after they met, Jackie invited Rachel to vacation with her in Myrtle Beach, where she told Rachel that she was in love with her. "So many emotions came over me in those moments," Rachel said. "I was scared, i was nervous, I was wondering if anybody would ever find out. But the most important emotions I felt were love, protection, comfort, joy, and so much happiness. I finally felt connected with somebody. We clicked, and we shared the best kisses to where it was like we were eachother's missing puzzle piece. We both just felt so right and so happy." Now, the women have been together for over three years, and their hopeful that their home state of Ohio will at last respect their marriage - and that the U.S. Supreme Court takes a case from Ohio and establishes the freedom to marry nationwide.
Fred & David Yawitz • Boynton Beach, FL
"We hope to see soon that FL will respect marriages from other states" and extend the freedom to marry to all same-sex couples statewide, Fred and David said. They recently married in Maryland, and they need respect for their marriage in the Sunshine State. The men were thrilled to see news from Friday, December 19 that the U.S. Supreme Court would not delay the freedom to marry in Florida, and now, they're hopeful that the decision will be implemented in counties across the state.
Lindsay & Laura Roberts • Bellville, OH
As they raise their two children in Bellville, Ohio, Laura and Lindsay are hopeful that in 2015, the freedom to marry arrives in their home state (and, subsequently, nationwide). They are carefully watching the United States Supreme Court as it weighs a decision in five marriage cases from five different states, including the Buckeye State. They hope that the Court takes one of these cases and reverses an anti-marriage opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit from November.
Kiongakyu & Bella Michele • Knoxville, TN
"I am hopeful that 2015 will see all states recognize that marriage is based on love," Bella said about her partner Kiongakyu and how they hope to marry in Tennessee. "Right now, I am penalized for covering my partner under my health insurance - if one of us was a boy and the other a girl, I would not have to pay over $5,000 in 'imputed income' to do so. I am hoping with marriage equality, that this and other financial injustices that impact so many are no longer an issue."
Ginger & April Aaron-Brush • Birmingham, AL
"We are hopeful that 2015 will be the year that marriage equality comes to Alabama," say April and Ginger, who are plaintiffs in a federal marriage case seeking respect for marriages performed in other states in Alabama (Aaron-Brush v. Bentley). "We are encouraged by the progress that has been made across our nation and are confident that our marriage will soon be recognized in the place that we call home. Looking forward, our hearts are filled with excitement with what is to come."
Ron McTarsney & Eric Ebling • Owensboro, KY
"Eric and I have been friends since 2010, and in October 2012 we decided to take our friendship to another level," Ron explained. "We have been in a happy, loving, committed relationship since then. We moved in together in November 2013. We want to adopt a child - but we want to be married before that." He continued, referencing a November ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit (now on appeal), "Our state does not allow us the freedom to marry. It took me 36 years, but I found my soul mate, the love of my life, and my biggest dream is to be married to him and have a family. I am hopeful that same sex marriage will be allowed nationwide and that we won't have to go to Indiana, and then not have our marriage recognized in Kentucky."
Judy & Collista Shae Mahone • Arkansas
In May, in the days following the historic ruling from Arkansas Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, Collista and Judy were one of the more than 500 same-sex couples who at last were able to legally marry in their home state of Arkansas. "I am so thankful for Judy," Collista, who lives in Fayetville, said this year. "I am thankful that we married in May, and I'm looking forward to our wedding in April 2015!"
Erica & Bianca Romero Favela • Texas
October 4 of this year marked Erica and Bianca's first wedding anniversary, one year since they said "I do" and promised their commitment to each other in New Mexico. Then this year, they welcomed a child into their life. "We have been together for 5 years now and we have been looking forward to the day that we could have a child. This year on March 4 we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy," Erica said. "Our little family has expanded and we are so thankful to be able to have a healthy son and a loving family that supports our love. I am very thankful to be able to come home everyday and to have my wife and son waiting for me. We have come a long way to get here, and the journey has been worth fighting for."
Jamie Grassie & Mackenzie Salter • Monroe, LA
"This year, at last, my fiancé adopted my 12-year-old daughter," Jamie told Freedom to Marry this month. "But depsite this, because we live in Louisiana, we can't be classified as a family legally, even though we know we are. My hopes for 2015 is my family will be legally recognized in my state and that my already amazing family can share the same last name. It means so much more to us than just marriage. It's people recognizing us for what we are and stand for. My daughters love us both and are very proud of our family; they don't see anything different except they have two moms who love them unconditionally."
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; we definitely don't regret our choice of traveling, but it would have been so much easier if our state acknowledged same sex marriage. 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."
Jack Miller & Darryl Gossett • Atlanta, GA
"We will have been together 25 years in 2015," Jack said, remembering, "We have traveled the world together and had the blessings of good friends everywhere." Now, they're hopeful that next year, by their 25th anniversary, they'll be officially and at last respected as a married couple. "We were among the first people to legally marry in the U.S. in Provincetown in 2004. We also had a Civil Union in Vermont in 2000, and those marriage and Civil Union certificates are beautiful and historic. It has been a moving experience to be a part of this historic civil rights struggle - now, we are hopeful Georgia will recognize our marriage in 2015."
Kari & Deborah Chin • St. Petersburg, FL
Kari and Deborah are eagerly awaiting the birth of their second child, who is due just before Valentine's Day in February! But as they wait, they are anxious about their marriage being respected legally in the state of Florida - there is legal uncertainty surrounding an order in favor of marriage taking effect on January 6, with the order being challenged by many county clerks. "My wife and I have been committed to one another since 2001 and were legally married in Massachusetts in 2013; we have a 20-month old daughter, and one on the way. In addition to all the normal stressors in preparing for labor and an infant, we are nervous to be on the edge of the timeline of any change in birth certificate procedure," Kari said. They simply want the certainty that when their second child is born, both mothers will be able to be listed on the birth certificate, legally connected to their child. It is a simple hope that would not even be a question if Florida had the freedom to marry. "I feel as though, unless you've gone through it, one cannot possibly know the sting that occurs when, on the happiest day of your life - the day of the birth of the child you have hoped for, longed for your entire life, planned for, attempted to conceive for years, and love unconditionally - you stand in that hospital room and are denied legal recognition as a parent. I at least have to try to prevent this from occurring again."
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 had our commitment ceremony in 2010. We welcomed our daughter in September of this year and we were able to tie the knot legally in November."
Julie Doyal & Lisa Howell • Houston, TX
"I proposed to Lisa this year, and to my happiness, she said 'of course,' Julie said. The couple, raised a child together, desperately wants to marry in their home state and make their family complete. "Our hope for 2015 is to be legally married in our home state of Texas with all of our loving and supportive family, which is quite large."
Jay Reedy & Mark Mazza • Sandusky, OH
"Mark and I will be celebrating five years together in March 2015," Jay said, thinking back on their life together in Ohio. "We had a commitment ceremony three years ago. We married in Baltimore April 30th of this year. Our relationship is solid, built on love and loyalty. All we want is for our marriage to be recognized and accepted."
Sherryl Bauer & Bonnie Murphy • Eddyville, KY
"What we hope for this year is simply love and acceptance to be who we are," Sherryl said, referring to the fact that her marriage to Bonnie in New York isn't respected in their home state. "As a loving same sex couple, we aren't trying to destroy your marriage, brainwash your children, or undermine anyone's beliefs. We just want the same things in life that so many heterosexual couples take for granted. We simply love each other and Bonnie and I have for the past 20-plus years, and that will never change."