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Stories: Kevin and Don Norte

Love
Stories: Kevin and Don Norte

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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.

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.' "

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