PHOTOS: An Enduring Love

By Jase Peeples

Originally published on Advocate.com July 31 2013 5:45 PM ET

Like so many other loving same-sex couples in California, Lorevic Rivera and Steve Disselhorst were patiently waiting for marriage equality to return to their state in 2011. Though Proposition 8, the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, was firmly in place, it was being challenged in federal court, and Rivera and Disselhorst were confident equality would soon return to the Golden State. But when Disselhorst’s father passed away that same year, the couple decided they could wait no longer for the government to dictate when they could celebrate their relationship.

“When Steve's dad passed away early that year and we realized that he would never attend our wedding and see us get married,” says Rivera. “We decided then that it was more important to share our love with our families than wait for the state and government to legalize gay marriage.”

The pair immediately began planning their wedding, and dedicated their lives to one another in the company of their closest friends and family after eight years together in November 2011.

“All this time, we were waiting for the government to accept us, and waiting for society to accept us. So we said ‘screw it.’ We're going to get married even without their recognition,” says Rivera. “You could say that getting married was an act of defiance against the government and a society that was telling us we couldn’t.”

As wonderful as it was for the couple to finally have the wedding of their dreams, things were about to get even better for Rivera and Disselhorst. The couple had begun the process of adopting a child together before their wedding, and on April 17, 2012, their daughter Kaitlyn was born. Despite the laws in place at the time, Rivera and Disselhorst were married in their hearts and were growing their family, as well.

As the battle for marriage equality came to the Supreme Court of the United States, Disselhorst says he worried about how his family would be affected.

“I ignored the news about the legal proceedings with the Supreme Court, because I didn't want to get my hopes up and be disappointed,” he says. But when SCOTUS handed down its now-historic rulings on Prop. 8 and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in June, Disselhorst was overcome with emotion, as his love and family would now be recognized and protected under the law.

"When we heard the news, I was overjoyed and allowed myself to experience all those strong emotions and feelings I was ignoring,” he says. “I didn't realize until after the announcement how much I was hoping for this.”

On June 29, the couple said “I do” for a second time, when they were legally married in a civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall.

“It was all very exciting and wonderful, being wed right there in front of the rotunda, in the place where Harvey Milk used to work,” says Rivera. “I think about it now, and I think about his famous quote ‘You've got to give 'em hope’ and that's what that day felt like, and what the decisions by the Supreme Court gave all of us in the LGBT community — hope.”

Making the day even more memorable was the fact that the moment was shared with their daughter Kaitlyn. “It was great that she was there to share that moment with us,” says Rivera. “In the end, the legalization of same-sex marriage isn't just validating my relationship with Steve, but it's a recognition of our family, and her as our daughter, to the world. I feel very lucky to have met and married the love of my life and to have Kaitlyn in our lives.” 

See photos from Rivera and Diddelhorst’s 2011 wedding, as well as their 2013 civil ceremony, on the following pages.

Invitations to the 2011 wedding of Lorevic Rivera and Steve Disselhorst.

As guests arrive, Rivera and Disselhorst share a joyful moment together.

Guests applaud the couple at their 2011 wedding shortly after making their vows.

Rivera and Disselhorst cut the first slice of their wedding cake at their 2011 reception.

Rivera, Disselhorst, and their daughter Kaitlyn fill out the application for marriage at San Francisco City Hall on June 29, 2013.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom congratulates Kaitlyn and her fathers at San Francisco City Hall.

Disselhorst and Rivera are officially married.