Love Stories: Kevin and Don Norte

By Anne Stockwell

Originally published on Advocate.com October 08 2008 12:00 AM ET

Married: June 28,
2008 Together: 30 years

How is it
possible to have spent three decades with your partner and
still be in your 40s? By meeting in 10th-grade art class and
sticking together from then on. That’s how
Kevin and Don Norte, both 46, got from Bayville, N.J.,
to Hollywood, where Don is now a city planner and Kevin
works as a government attorney. Don says he changed his last
name to Kevin’s years ago, partly to cement
their legal status, but also because “I think
it’s much nicer to say Don Norte than Don
Korotsky.” The couple’s cozy home
showcases their two greatest passions. On the living
room wall is a gigantic gilt-framed Follies
poster; on the coffee table sits a miniature Lucite barbell
over a plaque that reads “Thanks for the heavy
lifting -- Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

As Log Cabin
Republicans, the Nortes campaigned hard to get the governor
elected -- their personal website is packed with snapshots
of the couple in black tie with California’s
GOP elite -- and they’re used to being dissed
by gay people who don’t get the Republican thing.
“When I’m out there as an openly gay
Republican, it’s almost like coming out
again,” Don says. “There has to be room
for all of us.”

When Kevin
learned that gay couples could renew their vows in
Massachusetts, the Nortes decided to get married twice:
first on June 28, exactly 30 years after their first
date, surrounded by California friends in their
backyard, then in Provincetown -- with their moms -- on July
7. Kevin is breathless as he describes it.
“When they said, ‘I now pronounce you
spouses under the law, it was like the 90-foot tidal wave in
The Poseidon Adventure! You actually felt this wave
rush through everyone. I thought, Oh, my God, they
were denying us this emotion all these
years!

Now the Nortes
are focused on defeating California’s Proposition 8
-- with notable success. In February, Kevin and three
others approached the governor at an event. “I
said, ‘We would like you to oppose the marriage
initiative.’ And he said, ‘E-mail me all the
information you have, and I will consider
it.’ ”

While
Kevin’s not certain his e-mail was the deciding
factor, Schwarzenegger did subsequently make a
statement against Proposition 8.

“The day
he announced it,” Kevin says,
“[Schwarzenegger] was at the Log Cabin
convention. He’s walking to the limo and he sees me.
He turns around and walks through the crowd and he
hugs me. Everybody was like, ‘What was
that?’ And I said, ‘It’s a long
story.’ ”