Joseph Scaletta has always known that you can't judge a book by its cover: But in February 2006, at a local bar in Baltimore, Maryland, he couldn't help hoping that his snap judgment about Marcus Gann was correct.
Marc was drinking a Yuengling and sporting a classic CBGB + OMFUG T-shirt, prompting two first thoughts: First, that Marc definitely had good taste in beer (Joey hails from Pennsylvania, where Yuengling was founded), and second, that he might have good taste in music (CBGB, an acronym for Country, BlueGrass and Blues, was a music club and festival in New York).
Joey approached Marc, complimented the beer choice, and asked if he had ever been to the music venue whose name was emblazoned on his t-shirt. Joey hadn't - but the icebreaker worked, and by the end of the night, they had exchanged numbers.
"I guess you could say that NYC's punk rock scene brought us together," Joey joked.
Soon after meeting, Joey and Marc had their first date: Over a homemade Italian meal and a Brazilian documentary that Joey doesn't recommend as a first-date movie, Marc shared stories from a recent medical mission trip to South America and the two connected over their careers in medicine: Marc was in the middle of his surgical residency, and Joey's background is in infection prevention and epidemiology.
They got together as often as could be expected when one boyfriend works 90-hour weeks at a hospital, making time to learn more about each other and, on a particularly memorable date, stand in line for hours to rush for front-row tickets to Rent in Washington, D.C.
Eventually, Marc's residency ended and he sought out fellowships and jobs, eventually landing a four-month, temporary assignment at a small hospital in rural Kansas. The temporary assignment led to a contract position, Marc took the job, and for nearly a year the men kept up a healthy long-distance relationship.
"We managed to see each other about every four weeks or so - but we felt that we were missing out on so much in each other's lives," Joey explained. "Nine months later, after many discussions and one hellacious overnight in the Wichita airport, I joined Marc in Abilene in August 2008."
Joey enrolled in an accelerated nursing program, and throughout it all received ample support from Marc - "he's an awesome quizzer - and he helped me hone my assessment and documentation skills and even let me start my first IV on him," Joey said. Once he passed his boards, Joey got a job at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Last April, Marc and Joey trekked to New York City to get married, knowing that laws in Kansas denied them that freedom.
"After Marc's brother got married a few summers ago, Marc's parents felt they wanted to do something for us to celebrate our relationship, too," Joey explained. "We were thrilled."
They enlisted the help of famed wedding planner Bernadette Covney-Smith from 14 Stories, who guided them through the planning process and helped choose vendors that are owned by LGBT people or are gay-friendly.
Before 50 of their closest friends and family members, Marc and Joey promised their commitment to each other, said "I do," then celebrated for the rest of the night under the stars on the penthouse terrace of the Mondrian in SoHo.
As they watch the country continue to embrace marriage for same-sex couples more quickly than ever, they look forward to the day when Kansas upholds their freedom to marry, too.
"We continue to remain hopeful as, state by state, progress is being made," Joey said. "And now, we are both anxiously awaiting Kansas' turn in this story."