When Lauren Malm called the municipal courthouse in her hometown of Bellville to schedule her marriage ceremony, the clerk asked her what date and time she had in mind.
After making the reservation, the clerk asked for the couple’s names. When Malm responded that she would be marrying Rebekah Moreno, there was a long pause.
“Oh, is this a same-sex wedding?” the clerk asked.
“Yes, ma’am, it is,” Malm responded proudly. After another long pause, the clerk placed Malm on hold for several minutes. When she returned to the line, she informed Malm that the judge would be out of town that week.
“Wait a minute,” Malm said. “Just a moment ago, you told me that [the judge] could marry us. Now that we have given you our names and you realized that we were a same-sex couple, you are telling me he is now going to be out of town?”
“Well, ma’am, I guess I didn’t see that he was going to be out of town because I didn’t have it written on my calendar,” the clerk said.
Malm quickly ended the call.
“I thought gay marriage was the law of the land,” she says. “I guess it isn’t in small-town Texas.”
Instead of Bellville, the couple went to the courthouse in Rebekah’s hometown of Brenham and found someone who was willing to marry them, Washington County Judge John Brieden. With just a few friends and family members as witnesses, they tied the knot on March 7, 2017.
Rebekah read her vows first. Lauren kept her composure until it was her turn, but then she started crying.
“When I looked into Rebekah’s beautiful eyes, I just lost it. I’ve looked forward to this day my whole life,” Lauren says. “I couldn’t believe this was really happening—that Rebekah was going to be my wife forever and ever, and that our relationship was legal.”
After the ceremony, the judge turned to them and said, “The passion I see in your eyes shows that love is not a matter of gender.”
“That meant a lot to us,” Lauren says, “especially after the first judge turned us down.
“Even though I wasn’t able to give her the huge wedding with the fancy dress and all that, she knows in her heart that no amount of money will ever change the way I feel about her,” she adds.
Thanks to their economical wedding, the couple was able to take a honeymoon cruise to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cancun.
“Looking back, we wouldn’t change a thing,” Lauren says. “Love is forever if it’s pure, and life’s too short. Love who you love without shame, despite their race or gender. As long as they make you happy, that’s all that matters.”
Lauren Malm, 29, is originally from Texas City and works for Igloo Warehouse. Rebekah Malm, 28, is originally from Brenham and works as a medical assistant.
They met in June 2015 on the dating app Plenty of Fish. After five days of chatting online, Lauren told Rebekah that she was not going to keep talking to her unless they could meet in person.
Rebekah finally said yes when Malm agreed to meet her at Dave & Busters, where they talked nonstop for hours. At closing time, Lauren walked Rebekah to her car. Remembering Rebekah’s desire to take things slowly, Lauren didn’t kiss her goodbye. Rebekah got in her car, said “Talk to you later,” and closed the door in Lauren’s face.
A dark cloud of self-doubt washed over Lauren, and the voices in her head screamed, “She doesn’t like me! She is never going to talk to me again!” Luckily, those voices were quieted when Rebekah called her later that evening and made plans to attend Houston’s Pride celebration the next weekend.
They had a great time at Pride and shared their first kiss. After Rebekah (who was driving) got a little tipsy, she gave Lauren her credit card and told her to find them a room.
A week later, Rebekah asked Lauren to come over and spend the night. So Lauren drove an hour and 45 minutes to Rebekah’s mother’s home, where she was living at the time.
The next week, after Rebekah’s brother had bailed on a planned road trip to Colorado to visit old friends, she invited Lauren to go with her instead.
“Of course, I said yes. I just couldn’t get enough of her,” Lauren says. “Her smile made me melt.”
They officially began dating on July 1, 2015.
“I asked her to marry me at her friend’s home, two months later,” Lauren recalls. “I got down on one knee and said, ‘Rebekah Silvia Moreno, I want nothing more than to be able to call you mine forever. No one has ever treated me so well, so please, will you marry me?’”
“Did you ask my mom?” Rebekah responded.
“Ugh, yes, I sure did,” Lauren said, “and she told me no.”
Rebekah looked at her and said, “Well, I’m going to marry you anyway, but thank you for trying. I love you.”
“Like I always say,” Rebekah emphasizes, “any marriage can work if you want it to, but you have to actually be willing to fight for it.”
The brides now live in Bellville, where they are preparing to start a family.
This article appears in the October 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.