On November 12, 2013, Larry Carter and Antoine Nolan Carter hopped on a flight from their home in Atlanta, Georgia, determined and anxious to arrive at their destination: the court house in Washington, DC. The day before - the anniversary of the day that Larry proposed to Nolan - they celebrated their love and commitment among all of their loved ones in Georgia, and they were looking forward to getting a legal marriage license.
"Our wedding was a blessing - we had our families involved and supporting us, our friends and coworkers cheering us on," Larry said. They remember their vows, where they told each other, "Today, tomorrow, and the days after, I choose you as my husband."
"It was a dream," Larry said - "And the next day, we got up early to fly to DC to make it official."
Once they arrived at the courthouse in DC, Larry and Nolan were stopped by a news crew doing a fun segment about couples tying the knot on the numerical anomaly 11/12/13. Different-sex couples and same-sex couples like Larry and Nolan were equally featured in the segment - which, later that month, led to a "congratulations" card from President Barack Obama.
"The story was just about weddings," Larry said. "There was no mention of same-sex weddings or anything like that, and it was awesome to have our union placed where it should be - right up there with any other marriage."
Larry and Nolan met in 2007, and they became casual friends, bonding over their previous relationships and interest in film and travel. By July 2010, their friendship blossomed into a romance, and a year later, they made their relationship official - Larry proposed on November 11, 2011, and over the next two years they planned their wedding.
This fall, the men were excited to receive their marriage license in the nation's capital - but they knew that when they returned home to Georgia, they would be viewed as single - legal strangers in their own state.
"We are more than blessed to have each other - but we would like to be treated equally," Larry said. "It certainly doesn't feel good to be denied our rights in our home state - I just can't understand why my marriage and happiness causes any issues for someone else."
Every day, couples like Larry and Nolan are discriminated in 33 states across the country, including every Southern state. The disparity violates the United States' commitment to protecting its citizens - and there is no reason a couple like Larry and Nolan should be legally married, respected as married by the federal government, even celebrated as married by the local news channel only to return home to be denied all of the respect, dignity, and responsibilities that come with the freedom to marry.
"Marriage is a part of the family bond," Larry said. "It means that through it all, we are here for each other - I am here for you, and you are here for me. We are a team. We will work, build, and grow together. It would mean the world not just for me - but for other couples who have not yet been able to take this step - to have the freedom to marry."
"I look forward to the day when we have the right to settle here in Georgia and build a family," Larry continued. "I look forward to the day when we are fully welcomed by our state."