We Got Married
These couples may not have gotten married in a fever, but they certainly got married out of state. Here are their thoughts on how and why they did it and how they feel about the state of Texas not recognizing their unions.
by Marene Gustin
Teresa Lassak & Cecilia Clifford
Teresa Lassak and Cecilia Clifford were married on October 15 of last year in Boston, Massachusetts. Lassak, a geophysicist, and Cecilia Clifford, who works for a nonprofit, met more than five years ago when Lassak was a graduate student in Arizona. In 2009, she got a job offer from an oil company in Houston.
“We always said the one place we didn’t want to live was in Texas,” says Lassak. “So of course that’s were we ended up.”
After years of living on a student budget, they took their first vacation to Boston in 2010. When they returned, Clifford said, “We really need to get married, and we need to do it there.”
And so they did. They hired 14 Stories, a LGBT wedding-planning service to hire local vendors and help them through the legal process in Massachusetts. After days of rain, they woke up the morning of the wedding and found blue skies and perfect weather, so the outdoor wedding at the Fairmount Hotel in the Back Bay was on.
It was a moving, intimate affair. Lassak, a huge Red Sox fan, even got the mascot Wally to attend the reception.
“We wanted to get married, because we want to start a family,” Lassak says. “But it really hasn’t changed our relationship much. Except I tell her it’s going to cost her a lot more to get rid of me now, because we’d have to go back to Boston to get a divorce!
“But it is annoying that Texas doesn’t recognize our marriage. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t want to move here.”
Tony Carroll & Dr. Bruce Smith
Psychotherapist Tony Carroll and dentist Bruce Smith share not only their offices in a Montrose bungalow, they also share their lives. And they’ve been legally married not once but twice.
“Some friends of ours wanted to go to Toronto to get married right after they legalized it in 2003,” says Dr. Smith. “They asked us to be their best men.”
As it turned out, both couples got married in a private room at a restaurant where they later dined and received several bottles of champagne from other diners who heard they had just married.
“At first it was more about the politics,” Dr. Smith says. “But afterwards it was very emotional. It felt really good to introduce Tony as my husband.”
“It had a much wider impact then we expected,” adds Carroll, “both emotionally and when dealing with bankers and insurance people.”
Then, last year when New York legalized same-sex marriages, they decided they wanted a marriage license from their home country and were wed there on November 28, exactly eight years to the day after their first wedding.
But even with two valid licenses, their home state still doesn’t recognize their union.
“I’m old enough to remember the civil rights movement,” says Carroll. “And it feels just like that. We’re being discriminated against. But I think there will be court cases coming. I think Texas will have to recognize same-sex marriages one day.”
William Flowers & Jim Evans
William Flowers and Jim Evans met at a support group for gay men who had been married to women and had children with them, at Bering Memorial United Methodist Church in 2007. By 2009 they knew they wanted to make a permanent union, and so they married legally in a small Connecticut town in 2010.
“To me marriage isn’t just about being committed to each other,” says Jim Evans, a family practice attorney. “It was important for our children and church members to see that we take our relationship seriously. We’re not just boyfriends—we are in a permanent relationship.”
You may remember Evans and Flowers from the September OutSmart article detailing the custody battle where the Hon. Charley E. Prine Jr., an associate judge for the 309th District Court and a former Regional Political Director of the Republican National Committee, issued a ruling stating that Flowers could not leave his children alone with any male to whom the kids are not related by “blood or adoption”—a ruling that has stirred many to decry it as a blatantly antigay move. The case is still in the appeals process.
For now, Flowers’ three children are allowed to visit, as long as they aren’t left alone with Evans.
“It sucks,” says Evans. “It’s hurtful to us and our children that Texas doesn’t recognize our marriage. I was married to a woman for 17 years and, aside from the gender, it’s pretty similar being married to William. It’s a pretty routine life. He has three kids that visit, I have two. We have two dogs, and William’s mom lives with us. It’s just a regular home life.”
Evans also doubts that Texas will ever voluntarily recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
“Not in my lifetime,” he says. “But I do think the Supreme Court will eventually force Texas and other states to recognize these marriages, just as they forced Southern states in 1967 to recognize marriages between different races in Loving v. Virginia. I think that’s just a matter of time.”
Fred Smith & Isaias Gregori Rivas-Guzman Smith
Wilfred Smith met Isaias Gregori Rivas-Guzman at church one day in 2006. It wasn’t long before they knew they wanted to marry.
“Isaias is from Mexico,” Smith says, “and we’re trying to get him citizenship status here, so the attorney thought being legally married might help. We’re hoping the judge will consider it.” But that wasn’t the only reason, Smith says. “It’s the full package. We had talked about getting married for so long, we wanted to do it as a recognition of our love.”
Smith had found memories of Provincetown in his home state of Massachusetts with its wonderful beaches and the Pilgrim Monument, so that’s where the two tied the knot. And they couldn’t be happier. They live in Sugar Land and enjoy going out to movies, dinner and theater, and just staying home with their rescue terrier mix. The only problem in paradise is that Texas doesn’t recognize their marriage, and Smith doesn’t think the state ever will.
“It’s doubtful, in my opinion,” he admits. “But I’m getting close to retirement age, and we may just wind up moving back to Massachusetts. The politics here are so backward.”
Donna Rickard & Marti Rickard
Donna Rickard took Marti Rickard’s last name the first time they were married at Central Congregational Church on May 12, 2001.
“It wasn’t legal, but it was a traditional wedding,” says Donna Rickard. “I wore a white dress, and Marti wore a white tux. We had a honeymoon in Provincetown.”
And, even though they felt married for all the years after, they decided to make it legal. So, 10 years to the day, they returned to Massachusetts and were legally married on a platform on the Pilgrim Monument.
“We wanted to get married on the beach,” says Rickard, “but in May it was too cold.”
She describes the experience as very emotional for both of them, something they really wanted even though their status would not be recognized back home. But the Rickards recognize their union and are so proud of the status that they have the marriage certificate framed and hanging in the living room.
“Even though we count our anniversary from 2001, the second wedding was just very special for us, being able to legally marry,” she says.
And now her daughter Belinda is planning an April 2013 to marry her partner, Rene.
“Rene is going in the Army, so my hope is that they will get stationed by then somewhere that they can legally marry as well. That would be wonderful.”
Brad Prichett & Noel Freeman
This politically active duo—Pritchett works for the Harris County Democratic Party and Freeman is president of the GLBT Political Caucus here—have been together 10 years. Six years ago Freeman gave Pritchett a ring, but they decided not to get married since Texas wouldn’t recognize their union.
“Instead of having a big ceremony, we bought a house,” Pritchett says.
But things changed in 2010 when they were headed to the National Stonewall Convention in Washington DC. Freeman proposed again, and they were legally married in front of the Jefferson Memorial by the river with “a bunch of tourists and a Boy Scout troop watching.” That scoutmaster probably had some explaining to do.
“It really hasn’t changed our relationship much, although it’s nice to have the wedding pictures in our living room,” says Pritchett. “But my mom always says she’ll probably die before Texas recognizes same-sex marriage, and she’s probably right. As a fifth-generation Texan, that’s a little upsetting.”
Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.