A local couple who wed a year ago during Freedom To Marry Week participates again during the 10th anniversary of observances advocating full marriage rights for all Americans.
By Natasha Avey
Photo by John Conroy
If you ask Mark Eggleston and Darrin Brindle, they are married. The two are very rarely apart, own a house together, and the almost nine years they have been a committed couple is more than many people can claim—gay or straight. If only it were legal.
Eggleston and Brindle spent last February in downtown Houston making a statement about this exact issue. At that time, in front of friends and the media, they participated in a protest at the county clerk’s office during the Freedom To Marry Week, the nationwide observance organized to promote equality for families headed by same-sex couples. During the same week, Eggleston and Brindle also took part in the same-sex wedding celebration, which was held at Community Gospel Church.
In regards to what made him want to stand up with Brindle and participate in the wedding celebration, Eggleston said, “After attending almost every event that was presented at Freedom To Marry Week last year, and meeting all the incredible activists, advocates, parents, and clergy, we knew we wanted to stand up, celebrate our commitment, and demand our equal rights as American citizens.”
They both said that the wedding celebration did not change a thing in their relationship, as they were both extremely committed to one another. But what it did was bolster their commitment to the community. Both men vowed to take a more active stance about acquiring equal marriage rights as well as becoming more involved in groups such as PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends for Lesbians And Gays) and Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church.
Brindle—whose parents have been actively involved in his and Eggleston’s life, but declined the invitation to be a part of the commitment ceremonies last year—says PFLAG has done a lot for his understanding of what his parents have experienced and are still going through with his coming out. In regards to his work with PFLAG, Brindle commented that it was rewarding to “put some parents’ fears aside and show them that their child can live a ‘normal,’ ‘happy and well-adjusted life,’ complete with a loving, committed relationship.”
The other commitment they have made since last year’s events is getting more involved with Resurrection. The local congregation—the largest in the Metropolitan Community Church fellowship—celebrates its 35th anniversary this year and that, according to Eggleston, is a credit to the amazing work and “decades of outreach to the GLBT community and the inclusive atmosphere that has provided a home to thousands of people in the GLBT community.”
This month, Eggleston and Brindle will once again participate in the Freedom To Marry Week events, taking place February 11-17. Nationally, 2007 is the 10th year that Freedom To Marry Week, organized by the New York-based Freedom To Marry advocacy group, has taken place. In Houston, this is the fifth year Freedom To Marry events have been part of the local calendar, organized here by the Foundation for Family and Marriage Equality. Eggleston is especially excited about the wedding ceremony because it will take place at Resurrection MCC, where they are now members.
The two are looking forward to the events and the future. Neither of them wants to move anywhere that same-sex marriage is legal, unless it is right here in the state and country in which they live. “We will continue to be actively involved in these groups until equality is reached,” Eggleston says.
Natasha Avey profiles two of our People to Watch subjects in this issue.
Mark Eggleston says he and partner Darrin Brindle have 1,100 reasons to make a stand this month—all 1,100 of them are rights conveyed as soon as a marriage license is signed once a heterosexual couple weds. Some of these rights that same-sex couples do not automatically receive are hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, and parental rights for children. (Although you can take the initiative and secure some of these rights for yourself, see “Taking the Law Into Your Own Hands,” this issue.) Freedom To Marry Week calls attention to this inequity.
In Houston, observances during this week are organized by the Foundation for Family and Marriage Equality, established by partners Jerry Simoneaux and Christopher Bown. Activities during the week include these events:
February 11. Freedom To Marry Week kick-off party.
February 13. Forum on religion and sexual orientation and gender identity with clergy from various faiths.
February 14. Demonstration for the right to marry at the Harris County clerk’s office.
February 15. The Biology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, a discussion with Cynthia Chappell, Ph.D., University of Texas School of Public Health.
February 18. Same-sex wedding celebration, held at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church.
Some details, including event locations, had not been announced by press time. For updated information, check www.familyequality.org.
For more information on the state of our unions, check out these resources:
Freedom To Marry. This New York-based group, founded by activist and author Evan Wolfson, has organized nationwide Freedom To Marry events for 10 years. Wolfson’s book Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry is a useful primer. www.freedomtomarry.org
GayRites. This site founded by partners David Kirk and Randy Stopher provides information “to support gay and lesbian couples who want to become and stay married.” The non-commercial site includes a directory of wedding-related resources. www.gayrites.net
Human Rights Campaign. The website for the D.C.-based organization hosts an extensive page on same-sex marriage rights, including a state-by-state update. www.hrc.org