It's been a big summer for Megan and Marlee Malone-Franklin.
On May 17, 2013, in front of all of their family members and friends, the women expressed their love for each other and promised their lifelong commitment to supporting each other. Their ceremony, held at St. James' Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, was a beautiful day that represented a long, strong future for the women together.
"We were surrounded by so much love and support that it was overwhelming," Megan explained. Family members and friends - people who already viewed the women as two parts of a whole in a committed, lifelong relationship, were able to gather around the couple and witness as they sealed their commitment in a gorgeous ceremony with a moving blessing.
At the time of their ceremony, Megan and Marlee still weren't sure what the fate of the freedom to marry would be in California. The United States Supreme Court had not yet announced its ruling in the Proposition 8 case, which challenged the 2008 constitutional amendment that stripped same-sex couples in California of the freedom to marry.
"We were really holding out to see if Prop 8 was overturned," Megan said, adding, "If it was overturned, we knew we wanted to marry in California as soon as possible." California, after all, is their home - they live together in Brea, CA, and they were both raised in Orange County, CA.
Megan and Marlee have been best friends since high school. "About six years into our friendship, it blossomed into something more," they said. "It was difficult at first to reconcile our relationship with everything we'd been taught coming from conservative Christian backgrounds, but we knew in our hearts that we were meant for each other."
The couple has been happily together for over three and a half years, and on May 17 they were able to express their commitment to each other formally but, because of Proposition 8, the ceremony granted them no legal respect or protection.
That's part of why they were so thrilled on June 26, 2013, when they - along with hundreds of thousands of other same-sex couples in the United States - learned that the central part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which for 16 years denied federal respect to legally married same-sex couples, had been struck down, and that the freedom to marry would be restored in California. The Supreme Court's announcement changed the state of their relationship - granting them the freedom to marry in California and ensuring that their marriage would receive the federal respect that it deserves.
"Now, we're able to use the words 'my wife' without having to respond to confused looks or raised eyebrows," Megan said. "Seeing Prop 8 overturned was absolutely freeing." On August 9, Megan and Marlee gathered with several friends and family members at the Orange County Clerk-Recorder's Office in Fullerton, CA to make their marriage official.
"The feeling after our civil ceremony was like nothing else," Megan said. "The hug in this photo lasted for about two full minutes."
With their marriage license, Megan and Marlee are now fully respected as a married couple - including access to all of the federal protections of marriage. Now, they're looking toward a future very soon where same-sex couples like them across all 50 states can share in the joys of marriage. "Being able to legalize your commitment and have the protections marriage brings like other couples do - without jumping through expensive hoops - is so meaningful," Megan said. We know that all loving couples across the country deserve those meaningful protections of marriage - and we're excited to keep working hard to ensure that soon, no family will be denied this important freedom.
(All Photos by Robyn Tiffany)