Karine Jean-Pierre
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Stories: Ron Buckmire and Dean Elzinga

            Stories: Ron Buckmire and Dean Elzinga

Married: August
8, 2008 Together: 17 years

Back in 1991 the
Internet was only for geeks and grad students. Ron
Buckmire, who was studying applied mathematics at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York, was both.
When Buckmire visited Los Angeles that year, his
welcoming committee included Dean Elzinga, who was
studying mathematical logic at the University of California,
Los Angeles.

“We were
one of the initial Internet couples,” Buckmire says,
remembering the long-distance calls and student
airfares of their early romance. “We were just
so comfortable together,” Elzinga says.

When Buckmire
graduated in 1994, he moved west for good. Now the two
share a home in the Los Angeles suburb of Montecito Heights.
Buckmire heads the math department at Occidental
College and pursues his other longtime passion -- the
battle for LGBT civil rights. (You can thank Buckmire
for compiling one of the first online archives of LGBT
information back in 1991.) These days he heads the Center
for Health Justice as well as the Barbara
Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition, serving gay people of
color, and blogs on politics under his online alias,
“the mad professah.”

Today, Elzinga
makes his living as an opera singer. “I knew nothing
about opera when we met,” Buckmire says.
“I was into divas -- like Mariah Carey.”
Elzinga has changed all that. His rich bass-baritone voice
captivates even on the phone.

didn’t want to have something called a wedding.
“That brought to mind too many pictures of
virgin brides,” Elzinga says. They exchanged
vows before a small gathering in their backyard on August 8.
Elzinga, who was raised Mormon, was touched that his
father and brother chose to be there. Buckmire
recounts how his born-again Christian Grenadian mom
called to wish him happiness, even if she couldn’t
fully understand the marriage.

Now that
they’ve made it legal, the clarity of their
relationship has changed. “Before, there were
all these messy approximations,” Elzinga says.
“How you described the person in your life would
involve quotes, like ‘my husband.’
It’s such a relief to take the quotes off.”

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