Twenty-five years after their first dance, Steve Roberts and Rex Marzke finally said ‘I do.’
By Henry V. Thiel
Steve Roberts and Rex Marzke met on December 29, 1992, at the Brazos River Bottom Saloon, which was a popular gay bar in Midtown.
Marzke recalls that he went to the “BRB” that night to meet a friend and take his first country-western dance lesson. Roberts happened to be the instructor.
As they danced, Roberts and Marzke found they had a lot in common. They were both NASA employees who lived in the Clear Lake area, and they were both “small-town boys.” Roberts grew up in Falmouth, Kentucky, and Marzke is from Edinburgh, Indiana.
They also discovered they had seen each other at a white elephant Christmas party a few weeks before. “Actually, I thought Rex was a snob,” Roberts recalls, laughing. “When I finally got to meet him, Rex was really different and sweet, and someone I wanted to get to know better.”
Marzke says he had such a great time dancing with Roberts that he wanted a “real date.”
“I loved that he was always smiling, and that he made me feel like I was a special person,” Marzke says.
Twenty-five years to the day after they met, Roberts and Marzke were married on December 29, 2017, at the Bay Area Museum.
“You have to understand: we had been together since 1992, and had been living together since 1999,” says Roberts, now 66. “Gay marriage was illegal our entire lives, and so it was never really an option. Neither of us had any preconceived ideas about what our dream wedding could be.”
It was Marzke, now 56, who said to Roberts over a cheeseburger at their local Wendy’s, “Shouldn’t we get married?”
“We are both Christians, although neither of us goes to church now since we both think American Christians are no longer actually Christian anymore. But we still wanted a church wedding,” Roberts says. “Since we do not belong to any church, we thought that was an impractical choice.”
However, they had been supporters of the Bay Area Museum, and the centerpiece of that charity organization is a small church building built in 1901. Since it only has 77 seats and would not accommodate all of their guests, they decided to have a small church wedding followed by a larger celebration at the Hobby Event Center. That space was formerly a Tex-Mex restaurant where the couple had once eaten together, and they were thrilled that it had a stage, dance floor, spotlight, and several bars.
When they discovered that the center’s caterer could provide the cake and DJ—and that they could provide their own liquor and have an open bar—they signed the contract.
The entertainment at their wedding included local performer Morgan Fairview. “We knew our friends had never seen a performance quite like the one she puts on,” Marzke says.
The Rev. Raphael Warner of Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church officiated for the ceremony, and Dalton DeHart served as photographer.
The ceremony consisted of a reading from The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach, as well the exchange of rings while the couple read vows that they had written themselves.
Since both men are type-A personalities who rarely get emotional in public, many of their friends had never seen them cry. But just prior to the wedding, Marzke got teary-eyed while rehearsing his vows. He urged Roberts to re-read his vows, too, but Roberts laughed it off and said, “No way am I going to cry.”
Sure enough, during the ceremony, Roberts began crying after the first sentence and could only stop long enough to look at the guests. Some were chuckling, but the vast majority were crying, too. Marzke was doing both. They finally composed themselves just long enough to get the words out.
The week after their wedding, the newly-weds went on a cruise. “It wasn’t much of a honeymoon or very romantic, since Rex’s dad and sisters and niece joined us,” Roberts says. “But we did dance together every night—to country-western music, of course.”
The happy couple lives in Clear Lake with their Tonkinese cat, Tippi (Hedren).
This article appears in the April 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.