Scroll To Top

Going to the Chapel, Again 

Going to the Chapel, Again 


Meet four same-sex couples who took the plunge in San Francisco in 2004 and learn why they can't wait to walk down the aisle one more time.

The rapturous crowd that swarmed San Francisco City Hall in February 2004 -- only to have their same-sex unions annulled four months later -- may turn out to be the most married group in America. Many had already had private marriages or commitment ceremonies before the blitz on City Hall and now plan to marry again now that the California supreme court has overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

"I'll get married in every state if I have to," says performer Heather Gold. As a Canadian, Heather was able to marry her partner in Canada last December. When the California supreme court ruling came down, "my first call was to Stacey," she says. "My second was to the caterer."

Writer Jewelle Gomez, who was turned away -- license in hand -- when the marriages were halted in 2004, remembers the excitement of that time. "I walked up and down the line outside City Hall," she says. "I hugged people I knew. I hugged people I didn't know."

The Advocate found that thrill has been renewed by the court's May decision. Here are four couples -- married four years ago -- who now plan to retie the knot.

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon

Lesbian icons Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon have been together 55 years. Their lifelong political activism made them a perfect choice to lead the charge in 2004. Kate Kendell, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, invited them to City Hall. "They made it easy on us," Phyllis recalls. "They came to pick us up." She and Del were the first same-sex couple to be married in San Francisco. "They kept it pretty secret because they didn't want their enemies to rush to court," she says. "The next day there were a lot of people there."

Phyllis believes that gays and lesbians have a better chance of defeating an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in California this November than they did in 2000. "In the eight years since that vote, a lot of young people have grown up and are voting, and gay marriage is not a big problem for them," she says. "Also, more adults have met gay and lesbian people and they know more about us. So I think we have a good chance. We have to work hard. It is our right to marry."

Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis

John Lewis regards marriage for LGBTI people as "a fundamental matter of dignity and respect." He was at the rally at City Hall when word broke out that gay marriages were being conducted inside. He scrambled to call Stuart, who rushed to join him. As a Chinese-American, Stuart reflects that his parents "could only marry because this same supreme court overturned the ban against interracial marriage 60 years ago in the Perez decision -- a critical cornerstone of last week's decision."

John, a lawyer, and Stuart, a project director for University of California, San Francisco's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, have been together 21 years and will marry again "just as soon as we can," says Stuart. "We look forward to continuing to enjoy the most loving, romantic relationship."

Tee Minot and Lynn Dulce

Tee Minot, owner of Christopher's Books in San Francisco, woke up at 3 in the morning to get in line "with the diehards" for her marriage license. The night before, she and her partner, Lynn Dulce, a clinical professor of nursing at UCSF, had -- like hundreds of other couples -- been turned away from City Hall at closing time. It would turn out to be the last day of the marriages. "We barely made it. I don't even remember who married us. We just realized we had to be part of it, to take part in this historic moment," says Tee. "We did it for ourselves, but we also did it for our son, Nicholas." The women have been together 11 years and now have a second son. This time around their wedding will be "more of a celebration."

Dave and Jeff Chandler

In February 2004, Dave and Jeff Chandler were hosting a family gathering when their friend Kate Kendell leaned over and said, "I think something's going down this week. Keep your heads up." "By the next day we knew about the gay marriages and that we had to be a part of it," says Dave. They were among the first 10 couples to be married at City Hall. "We had a church ceremony in 1995. We felt married in God's eyes," he says. "It just took the city of San Francisco a little longer to recognize it." Dave felt "unbridled joy" at the court's ruling. The men now have two sons and have been together 15 years. They're planning a simple ceremony for their next marriage, with more family involved. "Some of our family members who weren't in the right 'place' to join us in 1995 are ready now," Dave says.

Why marry? "Protection. Legitimacy. Comfort. I could go on for 20 minutes, but it all boils down to that."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Regina Marler