From Wedding Day to 'Decision Day'
It doesn't matter that Kurt Lee and Shaun Meoak were married in San Francisco a year ago. They still get asked awkward questions like, “When gay marriage is legal again, are you going to have a ‘real’ wedding?”
More than 200 people went to their ceremony on Aug. 4, 2012. Family flew in from Michigan and even Europe. A close friend officiated. When the couple registered in California as domestic partners, because that was the only legal option available, they combined their last names into a single new one — Oaklee.
The Oaklees are like a lot of couples in the state who will be waiting to hear from the Supreme Court this morning. They are anxious. Maybe their patience is exhausted. They're looking for "a sense of legitimacy in the eyes of others."
Even if the nine justices who will rule in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 case, give their blessing today, it's unclear how long the Oaklees might have to wait before their marriage is recognized. It's obvious, though, the Oaklees are growing tired of waiting.
Kurt Oaklee said that if things "go our way" today, the couple plans to get to the nearest city clerk as soon as possible. He wants the paperwork filed and done with. And he's very clear that there will be no second ceremony.
"We already did that," he said.
On the following pages, photos from their wedding will look legit even if lacking a Supreme Court stamp of approval. The Oaklees were together for four years before Kurt Oaklee proposed — in Paris, a city for romance. They agreed that, for them, getting married would have meaning even without legal approval. They live together with their two cats — each had one before they met. They're working with a real estate agent to find a first home to buy together. This week, they met with a surrogate because they want to grow their family.
What happens in Washington today will be closely watched by LGBT Americans all over the country. A ruling on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act could have implications for issues like the estate tax that is at the center of the Windsor case. But same-sex binational couples, for example, are hoping their marriages will finally get that same sense of "legitimacy" that the Oaklees hope for in California, and a far reaching ruling could mean they are allowed to stay together in the United States.
The Oaklees were in California back when Proposition 8 passed at the ballot box in 2008, and they took to the streets with many others who were shocked. Kurt Oaklee remembers feeling "deflated," "defeated," "frustrated," and more than anything else, "sad."
He and Shaun Oaklee will be paying close attention when rulings in the two cases are announced this morning at 10 a.m. ET. No matter what happens, they plan to head to the Castro to again join in the reaction as part of a "Day of Decision" rally planned there.
At rallies planned across the country, many LGBT Americans will be hoping for a different feeling than the one from 2008, but most of all they'll be hoping for "legitimacy."
See photos from the Oaklee wedding on the following pages.