Love and Activism



Dan and Josh Smithman met in Las Vegas while Josh was visiting from North Dakota three years ago, the startof a whirlwind romance that has since led to more than 10 marriage ceremonies in the U.S. and Canada. In the midst of renewing their vows in Iowa, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont, Dan Smithman took time out of traveling between states to talk to The Advocate about the awkward moments he faced on the Smithman Marriage Tour in April, and why he thinks their adventure is significant and simple.

The Advocate: How did you think of the idea for this tour?
Dan Smithman: It kind of came up from the passage of Proposition 8 when we realized our marriage was threatened in California. We got the idea as states were coming on board and we thought we'd take advantage of every state until the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed. We kind of became activists by default.

How did the two of you meet?
I was living in Las Vegas in 2007 while Josh lived in Bismarck, North Dakota. He was vacationing in Vegas with a friend in late April and our paths crossed at a social event. We stayed up the entire night talking and laughing, it was pure magic and the first time I truly connected with another human being, spiritually, intellectually and physically. I have never met such a gentleman.

How did you deal with the separation after Josh returned to North Dakota?

Upon his return home we spoke on the phone. I told him that I had an amazing time and I simply wanted two more days with him. He agreed and flew back to Vegas a few weeks later. After almost three months of long distance dating, I proposed and he naturally accepted.

What are the rules regarding applying for marriage licenses in different states?
Every state has its own rules and they have their own guidelines. Boston and Washington D.C. have three day waiting periods so you have to show up in person, apply, and then come back three days later to get married. We've been doing all the leg work.
When we bought the tickets, Washington D.C. wasn't extending marriage rights to same-sex couples so we had to throw in an extra flight and do a little back tracking to make it all work.

We flew to Iowa earlier this month to complete and submit a marriage license application and begin the mandatory three day waiting period required by the state of Iowa. During that time, a local reporter covering our story decided to call the courthouse to get their opinion about our marriage tour. Once courthouse officials discovered we were already married in California, they declined our marriage application. When we returned to Iowa on April 21st, we had a ceremony at the LGBT
Center in Des Moines where we renewed our vows.  [Note: Lambda Legal later explained that while Iowa recognizes marriages between same-sex couples from other states, you cannot remarry in Iowa if you are still in a valid marriage from another state.]

Do other states have similar rules? How do you avoid being denied in other states?
When applying for marriage licenses in all states we were asked if we were already married. Our answer was "no." Given that our country defines marriage as an exclusive legal union between one man and one woman, by definition, we are not married.