Nearly three years ago, late on a Friday night in June 2011, Martin Sigler and Timothy Thomas watched as the New York state legislature voted in favor of a bill to allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry in the state. From their home in Dallas, Texas, they read about the celebrations in New York - and they knew how important the moment was for couples like them across the country.
The victory in New York was a watershed win for the marriage movement - and for Martin and Timothy, it was the moment that made them turn to each other and make the decision to fly to New York and plan the wedding of their dreams.
"We decided to not just promise to love each other forever, but to actually get married in a legal and religious ceremony before our family and friends," Martin explained.
The wedding day in New York City was perfect - what Martin describes as a "postcard-perfect sunny spring day" in April 2012. They were surrounded by 50 of their closest family members and friends in a beautiful ceremony, with a nondenominational officiant performing the ceremony with a wedding liturgy created by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago specifically for weddings between same-sex couples.
They exchanged vows, then took part in the tradition of "hand fasting," a symbol of being bound together forever.
The vows were a fulfillment of a less formal commitment that Martin and Timothy had made several years prior, in 2009, on their first vacation together. They had been dating for several months, and they decided to take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
While they were planning the trip, they realized that they were comfortable relying on each other: "I had been so used to handling problems on my own, and Timothy politely told me to let him handle the situations that arose with the travel arrangements," Martin said. "It was a lightbulb experience for us, as we realized that we could trust one another and help each other on our journey - literally and figuratively. After that trip, we really knew that we were the ones for each other."
Their love and trust only grew more intense since that trip - and as they said "I do" at their ceremony in New York, they felt their bond grow even stronger. And, significantly, they felt the weight of the legal respect afforded to them by the Empire State.
"Being married feels different in an almost inexplicable way - not because we said our vows to each other, but because we said them in front of our family and friends," Martin said.
But no matter how wonderful their wedding was, they knew that as soon as they returned to their home in Texas, their marriage would bear no legal respect.
But being able to legally say "I do" in New York - and seeing the Supreme Court strike down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act last June - gave them hope for the future of marriage in Texas.
"Growing up in Alabama and Texas, it never occurred to us that we could marry a man and have it recognized legally," they explained.
Couples like Timothy and Martin are married - they have promised their lives together and gone to great lengths to secure as many legal protections they possibly can. The validity of their marriage license should not be up for dispute: they should be as married in Texas or Alabama as they are in New York or one of the other 16 states and Washington, D.C. where same-sex couples can marry.
Now, it's time for them to get the legal respect they need in Texas - "We don't want to be partners or boyfriends - we are husbands," Martin said, explaining that Texas needs to respect their marriage. "With that title, we receive respect and dignity that our love deserves. We are committed to each other under the law - at least under federal laws at this point. Now, it's time for us to be respected under Texas law, too."
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Jen Lynne is a wedding photographer based in New York, NY and is one of the featured photographers in The New Art of Capturing Love. Martin and Timothy credit her with capturing many of their favorite moments from the wedding. "It was such an exciting day - but what made it more magical was having an amazing photographer capture it all," Martin said. "She created memories for us that we will treasure forever." Read more about Jen Lynn HERE.