Cathy Renna

Happy First Anniversary Washington, DC

Filed By Cathy Renna | March 03, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: marriage equality, one year anniversary, same-sex marriage, Washington, Washington D.C.

A year ago today, the District of Columbia became the first jurisdiction south of the Mason-Dixon line to legally marry same-sex couples.

Angelisa+Young+First+Same+Sex+Weddings+Take+OvHUa9hG0Qxl.jpgAs I write "Happy First Anniversary" emails to the three couples I had the honor and pleasure of working with and seeing marry that day, it strikes me how far we have managed to come and of course how much further we need to go as a community on this issue and many others. And of course, for them is it only the first anniversary of being legally married, as they were couples long before standing in front of over a hundred people (and dozens of cameras) a year ago today.

Let's take a moment to celebrate these three couples and all the other who came after them. I know there are several images burned into my memory that will always warm my heart and give me hope and energy to do all of the work we need to do until the LGBTQ community has full equality.

First, two of my newest heroes, Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend, who were first in line to register for a license and in a very lovely way had no idea what they had gotten themselves into. The media attention they endured - and excelled at in telling their story - surely changed the lives of so many. I vividly remember calling Angelisa in the middle of her wedding dress fitting to ask her to do yet another interview. She, like all the other couples, knew just how important it was to put a human face on the victory and demonstrate to the public, particularly the African-American community in DC, that their love and committment deserved access to the same rights and protections. As we discussed so many times, their story was a powerful response to the messaged LGBT youth - especially LGBT youth of color - often receive from family, schools, church and community.

The two other couples were already role models and friends and brought so many beautiful moments to our work.

Rocky Galloway and Reggie Stanley, an amazing couple and parents of twin girls touched the hearts of all of us with their vows. Reggie's vow to Rocky "Today, the arc of the moral universe is long and bends toward justice. But today, and every day, the arc of my love is longer and bends toward you." Breathtaking.

Although as a parent, I have to say one of my favorite moments came at the press scrum when the couples were outside the courthouse the week before getting their applications. Reggie and Rocky approach the ridiculous number of cameras and reports gathered and when one ask them "which of you is the girls father?" Reggie snuck me a sideways glance, smiled and said "we're both their fathers." As the same reporter tried to blurt out "but which of you is really [I assume he meant biologically] their father," Reggie shot out "we are both their parents" again before the offensive question was even finished. Standing next the then HRC comms director Brad Luna, I just smiled in a way I don't often get to, it was a moment of sheer power and also showed how far we still have to travel. Also, you simply so not don't mess with loving parents. You will be bested.

The day after the wedding, the Washington Post ran a huge photo of Reggie and Rocky walking down the aisle with their daughters in their arms. I'll admit I cried when I saw it, thinking about that image and impact it would have.

The last - but certainly not least - marriage at the HRC building was between my longtime heroes Rev. Elder Darlene Garner and Rev. Lorilyn Candy Holmes. Longtime partners, mothers and grandmothers, women of strong faith who have done so much for the LGBTQ communities. Their only reget that day was being the last couple to marry. The cried so much in the green room they had ot redo their eye makeup twice!

Finally, later that day, Rick Imirowicz and Terrance Heath (whose sons are just wonderful kids and totally stole the ceremony as participants) marked the end of an amazing day.

It was, in the words of so many people I spoke with afterwards, a day where the diversity of our community was on display on so many levels we rarely see - people of color, parents, older LGBT people, people of faith - that the impact of this will be felt in so many ways.

So today my heart is full of congratulations to all those who helped make this happen - the list is very long and there was so much healthy collaboration (and a little drama, of course) but as that arc of justice Reggie spoke of bends toward justice for all of us, we have these couples and all the others to thank for making that arc a beautiful rainbow we can all be proud of every day.


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