Rainboww edding n etwork M A G A Z I N E “The nation’s first LGBT Wedding Magazine” Vol. 4, Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009
Heartland in Gay America
Circle of Love:
Hand-Crafting Your Own Wedding Rings
IOWA Same-gender weddings: Affirmed
+ LGBT European Excursions
Real Couples, Real Weddings Dean & Gary celebrate Acceptance! $5.95 US ● $7.95 CAN
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 1
in this issue Volume 4, Issue 2
p. 36 Iowa: Same Gender Weddings Affirmed Feature | Landmark legislation in the Heartland sparks heart-felt celebrations. Meet four couples marrying this year, creating their own unforgettable moments! p. 45 Discovering France, Discovering Belgium... | With a New Perspective! p. 07 Real Couples, Real Weddings | An Iowa Love Story Dean & Gary celebrate the gift of acceptance p. 21 Circle of Love | Hand Crafting Uniquely Customized Ceremony Bands with the Wedding Ring Workshop
p. 18 Portraits of Change | Committed Allies Speak Out for Gay Rights p. 15 Make-Up Tips for Gay & Lesbian Couples Helpful Hints for Looking Fabulous on Your Special Day p. 32 Elena & Liz | Life Two Years Later Exciting New Milestones for one of RWN Magazine’s Real Couples! p. 43 Same Love, Same Rights® | LGBT Wedding Expos Across America p. 33 Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island Upscale & Trendy Renovations, New Focus on LGBT Clients
p. 06 Letter from the Editor | RainbowWeddingNetwork Celebrates 10 Years p. 27 The RainbowWeddingNetwork Orange Pages | Gay-friendly Businesses screened to uphold a policy of non-discrimination. Weddings, Travel, Community Resources, Gifts, Honeymoons & More!
RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine, PO Box 17596, Asheville, NC 28816 www.rainbowweddingnetworkmagazine.com A Division of Artistic Ventures, Inc. Published by Jemima Creek Signature Publications, a division of Artistic Ventures, Inc. Copyright ©2009 Artistic Ventures, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of its publisher. RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine, its parent company, subsidiaries and advertisers will not be held responsible for any errors found in this publication. The publishers accept no liability for the accuracy of statements made by interviewees or advertisers, nor for the accuracy of photo credits. References to third parties contained within this publication, including but not limited to photographs, advertisers and interviewees does not imply sexual orientation.
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Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 5
from the editor
RWN co-founder & senior editor Marianne Puechl (rt) with partner Cindy Sproul and daughter Kestin. Photo: MyDreamCatcher.info Long Beach, CA
It’s an amazing milestone: ten years ago this September, we proudly launched our main website RainbowWeddingNetwork.com as the first wedding gift registry specifically dedicated to the LGBT community. Since then the resources our company provides have expanded exponentially and, to say the least, it’s been an honor to witness firsthand so much growth within the gay rights movement during this historic span of time. In commemoration, my partner Cindy Sproul and I will be publishing a wonderful little book this Fall. It is a collection of personalized insights and experiences regarding the evolution of LGBT marriage equality: “My Dangerous Commute – Witnessing Gay Marriage Rights Across America.” Pre-order online this Fall at www.MyDangerous Commute.com! And as ever, we enjoy hearing your comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One Plastic Ring -an excerpt from “My Dangerous Commute – Witnessing Gay Marriage Rights Across America” by Cindy Sproul, co-written by Marianne Puechl Some of the best hugs I’ve ever been lucky enough to receive have made their way to me sort-of in slow motion. I can see them coming at a distance. Usually, across the field at a Pride event, or across the ballroom at one of our Expos, some complete stranger with his or her partner in tow will bound across the way with arms expanding to finally reach me with a wide smile and enfold me in a squeeze of sweet appreciation. Couples have been teary in greeting me and my staff, so thankful for the resources we’ve provided. The whole Big Picture is distilled down into salty drops of joy on their cheeks, and while it’s precious and beautiful… it’s also true that these simple tears are of historic merit. The journey to equal rights is in that flow of emotion. The meaning of equal access, fairness and justice is framed on those faces. The story of authentically living life -their own story- is told therein. And yet the tears are ironically impermanent. Granted, I have many moments at the office where I rant and rave about the latest conservative propagandizing or strategies. But when I seriously think about it, if I could share just one of those heartfelt hugs with the opponents of marriage equality, progress in finding common ground would propel itself instantly by lengths untold.
At one Pride celebration in South Carolina, a young woman approached our booth and chatted with us awhile. She was especially glad to see that we’d expanded to offer the wedding magazine. She had met us two years prior, with her partner, at another event and they had taken small promotional items from us at that time. -Two plastic rings, which at that moment those years ago the women had exchanged symbolically and with a sacred promise. ‘We’re students,’ the woman told us. ‘We couldn’t really afford rings yet, so yours were perfect. We know we’re getting married; we just have to wait until we graduate.’ Obviously she was young, but she couldn’t have been more sincere. As she recounted the story, she held up her left hand: the ring finger was bare. ‘I wore that band for almost two years day and night,’ she told us. ‘I couldn’t and wouldn’t take it off, not for anything.’ For months, she had showered with it, worn it while gardening or washing dishes or changing the oil in the car. The tiny, thin plastic ring worth perhaps a penny had weathered the days loyally for nearly two years. ‘But it finally broke,’ the woman told us. She kept it gingerly in a drawer at home. Trying not to be too obvious, she now squinted over the paraphernalia at our booth, across the magazines and sign-up sheets, the magnets, the lapel pins, the brochures… Sure enough, we still had a basket of rings. Meekly, she asked if she might take a new one. Needless to say, it was about as wonderful as a warm hug. …That’s how much the legitimizing of same-sex relationships through the idea of marriage actually means to people. The number of men and women who let us know they disagree with what we do or they don’t like how we do it far exceeds the number of those who are appreciative. But it doesn’t matter. When the days or the weeks get tough or rigorous, I can always go back to moments like the afternoon with the engaged students and their plastic rings. Their sentiments are something beyond inspirational: they’re uplifting. And more than just to me, personally. Somehow, with the tender promise they made to one another that day over two years ago, those women changed the world. When you see it often enough, you realize such things are truth.
Real Couples Real Weddings by Susan Hart Hellman
Photo: Matthew H. Smith
“Weddings,” “civil “marriages”... “Weddings,” “civil unions,” unions,” “marriages”... The public sometimes flounders at the choice of words to use when describing the celebrations of commitment between same-sex couples. The couples themselves, however, do not have difficulty. At the heart of the matter is Love, any gay or lesbian partner will proclaim, without a moment’s hesitation. Our ceremonies and celebrations may not have a definitive legal name at this time, in this place, but they are as common and as stressful, as unique and as moving, as sacred and as wonderful as any wedding has ever been. In anticipation of the day the state of Iowa would legalize same-gender marriage, Dean Genth and Gary Swenson of Mason City, having had a Holy Union Ceremony in 2004, planned on simply appearing at the courthouse, signing the papers, being wed by a judge, then going on back home. However on April 3, 2009, the day the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the Iowa legal code’s 1998 One Man/One Woman law, Dean and Gary’s expansive list of friends asked to be in on the historic wedding celebration. Gary and Dean realized their ceremony plans would need expanding too, so they began indulging in ideas for a May 31st wedding in Music Man Square, a 1912 River City Streetscape, reminiscent of the movie “The Music Man,” and home to “Music Man” composer Meredith ●● cont’d Willson.
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Real Couples Real Weddings But Dean and Gary also had another, perhaps more vital reason for their change of plans. In their wedding program, the couple explained this personal heartfelt goal to their guests. “If one young man or young woman attending, who has been told by society, church, or even family that they are ‘less than,’ could come away from our ceremony with a hope for the future, a hope that includes love, companionship, and recognition that they too are of value, then we’ve been successful.” For these two men to choose to include the inspiration of others as a priority for their Wedding Day was not unexpected, as Gary and Dean are considered the North Iowa “Poster Boys” for same-gender relationships. “We have worked with One Iowa (an advocacy group dedicated to supporting full LGBT equality) since its formation,” Dean says. “...And also with Executive Director Brad Clark on the State’s Anti-Bullying legislative efforts.” Dean and Gary co-founded PFLAG-North Iowa, and Dean is president of the Iowa State PFLAG Council of Chapters and Chair of the Iowa Stonewall Democrats Caucus.
Happily Ever After Begins Here.
Dean and Gary’s History As part of their ceremony, Dean, a retired business executive, and Gary, a radiologist, made use of their 27-page written program in part to tell guests about their life together, including how they met when their careers took them individually to Chicago 6½ years before. Soon thereafter, Dean joined Gary in Mason City, Iowa, and the couple celebrated a Holy Union Ceremony at First Presbyterian Church on November 27, 2004 in front of almost 200 friends, family and community members. But to make their May 31st wedding truly inspirational, Dean and Gary also told the story of their lives before they met. “The story,” they detailed in their program, “of two boys who grew up in unfriendly times and sometimes hostile circumstances.” For Gary, those circumstances included growing up the sixth of eight children in a traditional Mormon household. He says that when he was old enough to realize he was
“different” and began to discuss his feelings and questions with church leaders, he was advised to pray, read scripture, and marry a “good woman,” and those awful feelings would go away. Likewise, Dean was raised in a conservative environment, a rural Indiana farm. In the wedding program he explained how in his youth he also had followed what society, church, and family dictated as the “recipe for happy living.” Both men married, had children, and established themselves in their respective churches and communities, but there were consequences, which they explained candidly in the program to their wedding guests. “The dissonance and heartache grew in the hearts of two men who were living what they considered ‘irrational roles’ - roles society created, had created for them. And all the while, they lived in fear, living false lives.” Both recall being obsessed with certain thoughts. “What if my family and church members found out who I really am?”
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Real Couples Real Weddings be,” they concluded at the time. “It couldn’t work.” Gary lived in Iowa; Dean lived in Ohio, but most importantly, they believed that all they’d worked for – jobs, families, community standing - would be sacrificed for what they felt was “an insane proposition.” There was no logic! There was no common sense!
In their Wedding Program, Dean and Gary candidly shared the story of their chance meeting, the challenges faced in coming out & the joy of their new life together. Photos: Matthew H. Smith
In their wedding program, the couple further explained, “It took many years before we could realize we are indeed beautiful, and that God means for us to be happy.” That day arrived, unexpectedly, in 2002. “It was destined. Our souls had to fly, and that flight began on December 2, 2002 when we met in Chicago and fell in love.” But the doubts remained. “Let’s give it a year,” Dean recalls saying. “If we still feel the same, we can make arrangements to merge our lives.” However, it was only three weeks later that he proposed to Gary. “Will you marry me?” he asked. The couple then faced a whirling mix of thoughts and emotions as they considered their prospective future together. “It couldn’t
Photos provided courtesy of: Matthew H. Smith 701.320.1599 www.mattyfactory.com
But there was love, and Gary answered Dean’s proposal in just five words: “Dear Dean. Yes. Love, Gary.” However, the fears continued. “We had difficulty shedding the years of conditioned self-loathing and shame that accompanied our situation,” the couple acknowledged in their wedding program. They felt as if they should retreat to a “safe” place, somewhere larger than Mason City, and bought a house in Cincinnati. “Cincinnati was a big enough city that we felt we could become anonymous,” they explained, “and live our lives quietly, giving us a chance to adjust to the concept of being a gay couple in straight America.”
But those plans, like their eventual May wedding plans, were transformed by friends. When Gary gave his medical partners notice with little explanation, one of them took him aside and asked, “Why do you have to move?” Gary’s many excuses didn’t work and he recalls, “Finally, I simply came out with the truth.” Then he told all his partners about Dean, and each one had the same response: “If you think it matters, it doesn’t, so please don’t move away.” After eventually telling others too, the couple was still concerned. “We were reeling from the immediate psychological trauma of coming out to families, friends, churches, and our communities,” they explained to their wedding guests. “We felt the loneliness and isolation that comes with internalizing all the negative opinions of society. The trauma was real. Wives and children were no longer a part of our daily lives. Excommunication and expulsion from lifelong church affiliations had just been endured.” In addition, they were facing what they believed would be the town’s potential negative reaction to a gay couple ●● cont’d living in its midst.
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Real Couples Real Weddings
arriage Joins Two People In The Circle Of Its Love By Edmund O’Neill
Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime. Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships. Two spouses are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.
Dean and Gary along with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus and Reverend Mel White, May 31, 2009. Photo: Matthew H. Smith
But then, they heard the song that changed their lives. “Quite by accident,” Dean explains, “we found ourselves on the campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. As we walked along, we saw a sign announcing “Gay Men’s Chorus Concert, tonight in the chapel. That evening, feeling as if we were the only gay couple in all of the rural Midwest, we timidly entered the chapel and saw 100 members of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus.” The couple watched hundreds of people filter into the chapel. “Young, old, gay couples, straight couples, students and professors,” Dean recalls. “All smiling,” Gary adds, “welcoming, and happy. It was an epiphany! We weren’t alone!” For the first time, Dean and Gary held hands in public, unafraid, and at the evening’s end they grasped the hands of those around them too as the 29 year-old Chorus sang what had always been its signature song, ‘Walk Hand In Hand.’ Dean and Gary were in awe. “The choir and audience sang together words that would forever change the hopes and dreams of two frightened men from Iowa.” On November 27, 2004, Gary’s business partners, and nearly 200 other guests joyously witnessed the couple’s Holy Union Ceremony
at First Presbyterian Church, right there at home, in Mason City. The Wedding Ceremony On April 27, 2009, the day marriage licenses could be legally provided to same-gender couples in Iowa, Dean and Gary were first in line. By this time, their initial plan -a simple visit to the judge- was just a laughable memory, and the preparations for the larger event, for 400 friends, relatives, co-workers, and community members, were in place. They had decided that this time when they donned their tuxedos, they wanted the day’s meaningfulness to extend beyond a wedding. “Our event was a day of Marriage Equality Celebration,” Dean explains. “We envisioned this being a teachable moment for the community here in Iowa.” To accomplish this goal, they wished to create a multi-faceted and relevant ceremony, beginning with pianist Brian Snell’s renditions of songs including “I Am What I Am,” “If He Walked Into My Life,” “Somewhere My Love,” “One Hand, One Heart,” and “Impossible Dream.”
Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly. Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life. When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.
Then several narrators, including Rev. Paul Collier and Mr. Allen Burch, began telling the story of Dean and Gary’s lives. As part of that ●● cont’d story includes their families,
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Real Couples Real Weddings “I Can Fly,” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Vocalists Beth, Jennifer, Kristen, and Stephanie Ehlers sang “Somewhere.”
standing alongside the grooms were Dean’s nieces, Lynne Utterback and Deb Baker, and Gary’s son, Adden Swenson, Gary’s youngest brother, Mark Swenson and his husband Craig Coburn, and Gary’s nephew, Aaron Swenson. As the narrators spoke, The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, directed by Dr. Stan Hill, accompanied by Timothy De Prey, performed songs related to Dean and Gary’s story. “Once I Had a Secret Love,” they sang. Also intertwined within the story were the songs “If You Only Knew,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,”
Also interspersed were the narrators’ readings of several significant pieces including Edmund O’Neill’s classic work, “Marriage Joins Two People In The Circle Of Its Love.” But in addition to being informative and inspiring, Dean and Gary’s wedding was also designed to be very personal. “Our vows this time,” Dean says, “were more secular than the Holy Union Ceremony, but were written by us to be extremely personal and meaningful for us.” It was personal to them on another level
too: the inclusion of Reverend Mel White, internationally known author and founder of Soulforce, an organization focused on obtaining freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the use of nonviolent resistance. The choice to have Rev. White officiate at their wedding stemmed from Dean’s appreciation for Rev. White’s book, Stranger At The Gate - To be Gay and Christian in America, which Dean says enabled him to “come out” and live life honestly and authentically. Dean then served as Director of Logistics for Soulforce’s 2007 East Bus Equality Ride, and having struck up a friendship, Rev. White was happy to officiate at the couple’s wedding. After the vows, the ceremony closed with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus singing the song that had so positively impacted Dean and Gary’s lives several years before. “Walk hand in hand with us,” Dean and Gary invited their guests. Guests grasped each others’ hands as the Chorus sang its signature song.
Real Couples Real Weddings rainbow colors in keeping with the wedding theme. Photographers Matty Smith and Ed Lynn recorded the day in pictures, and videographer Jeff Platt captured the fun and festivities as well. Cherishing the Day But amid the celebration, Dean and Gary invited their guests to also seek the deeper meaning of the day. “Look around you,” they told their 400 friends and family members. “Here is a cross-section of Iowa. In this room are folks at all levels of the income spectrum. We have well-dressed fashionistas and those whose clothes reflect the care of long-term repair, conservation and thrift. We have gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and straight individuals. We have those who were born male and are now female, and those who were born female and today sport beards and dapper masculinity. We have all flavors of religion represented, as well as those who profess no religion or belief whatsoever. We have Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We have pastors and priests, doctors and lawyers, those who serve us sandwiches at the counter and those who clean up after us when we are long gone from work or business. “No one here is unacceptable. No one here is ‘less than.’ You will be hard-pressed to find a gathering in the United States as diverse as this group of people in this room today. And you will be hard-pressed to find a moment in time when you are as accepted for who you are, than this moment right now. Cherish this moment.” Susan Hart Hellman is a freelance writer based in California. email@example.com The Happy Couple and their guests socialize at the unique reception in Music Man Square; over 400 friends were in attendance. Photos: Matthew H. Smith
The Reception The Chorus also entertained at the reception, as did Kirk’s DJ & Sound. The reception theme, the Music Man Square Streetscape décor, featured rainbow flags of all sizes and floral displays, centerpieces, corsages, and boutonnières, created by Randy Black of HyVee Floral, including tulips, roses, daisies, and irises in bright rainbow colors.
Gail Schurtz of Hy-Vee Catering provided the Casual Cuisine menu including gourmet ham, turkey, and roast beef tortilla snack wraps; a fresh fruit bouquet featuring melon, grapes, and strawberries; lemon-limeade slush, and wine bar. The three-tier wedding cake had an Asian influence, square with draping apple blossoms and the Cantonese symbol for Happiness on top. Three additional sheet cakes were decorated with rosebuds and
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Photo: Mary K. Wood, Atlanta
and insightful tips for all gay and lesbian couples - to ensure that you’ll present your most beautiful face on your Special Day! TIPS for WOMEN
by Maura “Mo” Lewit contributing writer
If you enjoy wearing makeup, there is no right or wrong, just wear what feels comfortable. One partner does not need to be the male, nor does one need to be the female. If you both enjoy wearing makeup, wear it! Many photographers suggest brides and grooms wear at least a little makeup so they don’t appear washed out in photos; here are some easy
1. Get a professional! If you can afford it, by all means use a professional makeup artist. Many resorts, chapels and ceremony sites offer makeup services or have several artists they can recommend. This is your one Special Day, but makeup artists build their careers working with brides (and oftentimes grooms.) -That is a lot of experience! Makeup artists know which foundation is right for your skin color and which hues will appear best in photos. Enjoy their expertise; it’s one less thing to worry about on this important day. 2. If you are going to buy your own makeup, try it out at the counter first. When it comes to foundations and shadows, it is hard to tell if they will work for you while still in the package. Many makeup counters offer a free make-over
with purchases. Pick out a few shades you would like to try, and have the artist apply them for you. If you have the time it is always best to have a technician show you one side of the face, and then try to repeat the same technique on the other side yourself. Many women purchase colors or foundations that look wonderful when applied by a professional, but when they get home they can’t recreate the look. The makeup then gets thrown in a drawer. For women with darker skin tones, be sure to choose a color that is closest to your complexion but not lighter. Blend well to avoid uneven tone, otherwise it will appear like a chalky layer and can translate poorly in photographs. 3. For eye shadow, choose a tri-color makeup palette with hues made for your eye color. Almay makes some great eye shadow palettes that are formulated specially to complement different eye colors. Generally, cool colored eyes like blue or green contrast well with shades of brown, peach, or bronze. Warmer colored eyes like hazel or brown look nice with plum or rosy shades. Use the softest color in the palette to highlight your brow bone, apply the deepest ●● cont’d
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color into the crease of your eye and then sweep the medium toned color to your eyelid until it reaches the crease. 4. A great lip-tip to make color last longer is to first apply foundation over the lips, use lip liner to define them and then apply the lip color. Wait a minute or two, then dab the extra color off with one touch of a clean tissue, and then reapply the color, touching it up with a sealer and possibly a dot of shimmer in the center of the lips. Using a long wear lipstick is a great choice too, especially for the Wedding or Reception. Just be sure to apply the long wear lip color to a completely clean and dry lip. You may use a little lip liner after the color has set and then you can use a gloss to blend. TIPS for MEN 1. For the more natural man... if you do not really have a predilection for makeup, ask your professional or a friend to apply a light liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer that matches your skin tone. Apply a little concealer afterward to the areas that need extra coverage. Applying the concealer after the foundation prevents the concealer from being smudged by the blending of the foundation. Be wary of powders, they do not reflect light well in photos and have a tendency to wear off quickly. Also, a non-iridescent bronzer on the cheekbones is a great way to add a little color naturally. Lip balm finishes off the look for supple lips. I tell all my male clients, both gay and straight, to try and remember that these photos are forever; a little basic grooming and makeup is always an excellent idea to ensure that you look your best. 2. If you want to wear drag for your wedding, I recommend that you have a makeup artist or an experienced friend lend you a helping hand. If you enjoy wearing drag you have probably done your makeup yourself a time or two. Just try to keep in mind that most modern photographers have gone high-tech, meaning enhanced photos that can show every blemish. Even if you are made up in drag, you still want your face to appear soft and not over the top. 3. Unless you are Freddie Mercury, mustaches and beards do not go well with foundation and eye shadow. So choose one or the other. Replace foundation with a bronzing gel on the bearded area.
Photos: Mary K. Wood, Atlanta
TIPS for WOMEN & MEN 1. Have your eyebrows professionally shaped for the ceremony. Don’t tweeze your eyebrows the morning of your Wedding - you will create redness and irritation. Get your brows professionally shaped about a week before your ceremony and check for strays two days before. If you do not have a preferred professional, ask your friends who they might suggest, and make sure you like the way your friend’s eyebrows look before taking their advice.
2. Get a facial. Facials are very beneficial to the skin and they are also a wonderful way to relax, but the main purpose of a good facial is to improve the skin’s quality. This often means pulling any imperfections and blockages to the surface of the skin so they can be treated and removed. A facial can leave the skin red and blotchy, so do not get a facial any sooner than two weeks before your ceremony. This allows the skin time to heal and look its best for the special occasion. The better your skin looks the less foundation is needed. 3. Liquid foundations work best. Apply your foundation first, and then add your concealer to places where you need a bit more coverage. Be wary of powders, they do not reflect light well in photos and have a tendency to wear off quickly. Indulging in the services of a makeup artist on Your Special Day is one easy way to pamper yourself, and perhaps your partner as well! Applying your own makeup while you’re stressed is a big no-no; plus, there is nothing more relaxing than having your makeup done for you.
But if you do choose to do your own makeup, whether you are a man or a woman, these tips will help you look your best all day long. ABOUT MO LEWIT Celebrity makeup artist Maura “Mo” Lewit is best known for starring in the Lifetime reality competition TV series “Blush: The Search for the Next Great Makeup Artist.” Mo is a graduate of UCLA and Joe Blasco’s School of Makeup. Over the span of her career, Mo has worked with Cirque Du Soleil, the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, Rachel McAdams (“The Notebook”) Omorosa ManigaultStallworth (Donald Trump’s NBC show “The Apprentice”) and Norma Strait for The Country Music Awards. Her regular clientele includes actress Jennifer Tilly and author Lucie Venture. She is currently a senior makeup artist for The Bellagio Salon in The Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and she is also currently the head makeup artist for the Las Vegas based cable television show “In My Corner” starring Rasheeda Ali. Most recently, Mo teamed up with fellow “Blush” contestant Farah Carter to form their own company, Advanced Hair and Makeup.
Photo: Mary K. Wood, Atlanta
You can visit Mo at www.myspace.com/momakeup or at www.advancedhairandmakeup.com
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 17
Portraits of Change Committed Allies Speak Out for Gay Rights
by Ira Adams contributing writer
It’s now part of the history books... Opponents of equal marriage throughout the nation descended upon California last fall and poured millions of dollars into influencing the public to ensure the success of their measure: Proposition 8. And while our community fell short of achieving the level of involvement needed to secure equality at that time, since the passing of Proposition 8 and its being upheld by the state Supreme Court this spring, the LGBT minority has rallied together to renew our collective sense of purpose. We’ve revitalized our vision and the necessary determination to ultimately prevail. For the moment we may be left with the bitter taste of defeat in California, but other recent victories help to remind us that change is on the horizon.
have been focused on the goal ahead, we have in recent years gained several strong and sometimes unexpected advocates: hopeful reminders of the dawning of a new era for gay rights. Their efforts are not to be overlooked,
The black church must not be refuge for those who want to scapegoat and use violence on any community, including the gay and lesbian community.
While many within the LGBT community
as their important contributions will likely reshape the landscape of the LGBT Equality Movement in the years to come.
What makes these individuals so remarkable is that they have decided to take a step off the sidelines, often reaping little or no benefit, risking professional standing and perhaps more. They have chosen to take a stake in the issue of human rights. The following is a brief introduction to just some of these influential allies. Coretta Scott King Taking the helm of the American Civil Rights Movement after her husband’s April 1968 assassination, Coretta Scott King spent her life working on behalf of Women’s Rights and advocating equality for the African-American and LGBT communities. On numerous occasions she openly voiced her support for the LGBT community and called upon civil rights leaders and the African American community at large to advocate for LGBT rights. Speaking out at Chicago’s historic Palmer House Hotel in April of 1998, King stated that “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood... This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.” She understood the unique challenges facing the LGBT community and saw parallels between the philosophies of those individuals who have sought to suppress both the African-American and LGBT minorities. In her now famous 2003 speech at the 13th annual ‘Creating Change Conference,’ King publicly likened the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1950’s and 60’s to that of the current gay rights movement. “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people. ...But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, to make room at the
Coretta Scott King and family at the annual MLK Day March, 1998 / Atlanta, GA Photo: Cindy Sproul
table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people,” she remarked. Facing tough criticism for her views linking the gay rights movement to that of the Civil Rights Movement, King did not relent. She openly commented that her opponents were “misinformed” and that she was simply continuing her husband’s message of equality and inclusiveness. The African-American and LGBT communities lost a great advocate and visionary when Coretta Scott King passed away on January 30, 2006. Rev. Al Sharpton It’s reassuring when our minority is able to garner support from arenas where it is not necessarily expected. Case in point: the religious sector. Despite facing the obvious obstacles and harsh criticism from peers, Rev. Al Sharpton has strongly aligned himself with the LGBT community. He is a southern Baptist minister leading a movement to eliminate fear and prejudice against gays and lesbians from within the church. Working against generations of instilled tradition to help open the eyes and hearts of people who would not otherwise readily embrace such ideas, Rev. Sharpton’s message is clear and decisive.
As keynote speaker for The National Black Justice Coalition’s Summit on Homophobia in Atlanta, GA on January 20-21, 2006 Rev. Sharpton expressed marked opposition to the church’s stance on LGBT issues. “The black church must not be refuge for those who want to scapegoat and use violence on any community, including the gay and lesbian community,” he said. His goal is to place accountability back on the church as a whole by encouraging individual members and leaders to speak up for equality. “Martin Luther King, Jr. said there are two types of leadership — there are those who are thermometers, who measure the temperature in the room, and those who are thermostats who change the temperature. I come to tell you to be thermostats. Turn up the heat in the black church. Make these people sweat,” states Sharpton. He also offers criticism regarding the stances taken by several churches that he feels have given in to pressure from more conservative groups on the issue of gay rights, specifically those backing President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign to ban same-sex marriage. As a strong advocate for the LGBT community, Sharpton is building support in places often left unturned. The impact of his work will no doubt provide lasting foundations for the years ahead. ●● cont’d
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 19
Portraits of Change Rocky Anderson Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah from 2000 through 2008, Rocky Anderson has been charged with having “attracted the entire gay community to come and live in Salt Lake County,” according to Utah State Senator Chris Buttars. As with many of our community’s advocates, Anderson has faced pointed opposition to his stance on equality for LGBT citizens. Regardless, he has allied himself strongly to the issues, even being described as having “gone out on a limb to defend gay rights.” As early as his bid for US Senate in 1996, Anderson has been a proponent of marriage equality. Merrill Cook, his Republican opponent in that race, targeted Anderson’s pro-gay position as a focal point and wedge issue for the campaign. Despite criticism and disfavor among constituents, Anderson remained committed to protecting the rights of the LGBT community.
In 2005, during his term as Salt Lake City Mayor, he extended domestic partnership benefits to all city employees through Executive Order. “Fundamental principles of fairness and justice obligated me to grant equal benefits to same-sex domestic partners of employees,” remarked Anderson in a 2008 Times Online interview. “While my Executive Order granting equal benefits was unpopular in some quarters, even spurring lawsuits, it was the right thing to do.” Today Rocky Anderson remains committed to protecting the rights of gays and lesbians and other minorities. He is currently serving as President of High Road for Human Rights, an organization devoted to the defense and awareness of those affected by social injustices throughout the world. At times, it is difficult to comprehend that in the United States our minority continues to find itself in the position of striving and fighting for the same basic rights and acceptance that
so many others in our nation take for granted. That LGBT citizens must continue to work against the same prejudicial arguments which have sought to suppress us for decades is ludicrous. No doubt we will continue to face these obstacles on some scale for years to come; however, it is with recent victories in places like Vermont and Iowa and New Hampshire that we are reminded that the promise of equal rights in America applies to the LGBT community too. And no matter what lies along the road ahead, we can rest assured that it is not a journey that we will have to take alone.
Circle of Love Creating Your Own Wedding Rings
by Susan Hart Hellman contributing writer
Jennifer Spearel & Belinda Romero of San Diego work with WRW metalsmith Jay Whaley to craft their own ceremony bands.
What do wedding rings and rugby have in common? Nothing, you may be thinking! Ironically, there is a connection: Wedding Ring Workshop (WRW), where couples spend a romantic day creating each others’ personalized wedding rings. The concept for the original Wedding Ring Workshop, in London’s Hatton Garden, began as a challenge between two rugby team members. One recently engaged player asked fellow rugby enthusiast and Master Jeweler, Simon Lewis, to create his wedding rings. Simon jokingly suggested that his friend and his betrothed do the work themselves under Simon’s guidance. Challenge accepted, and Simon, in the business of creating fine jewelry for over 20 years, recognized an unfulfilled niche: facilitating the desire of couples to express
their love by personally crafting the rings they would soon exchange. The idea of the Wedding Ring Workshop quickly became a reality. Over the next few years, Simon’s Wedding Ring Workshop became so popular he decided to expand this unique experience, and with the aid of fellow Englishman and San Diego marketing firm owner, Lewis Barnes, he established Wedding Ring Workshop-USA. Soon, the first WRW-U.S. was open for business. Lewis says, “An apartment romantically decorated with a New Orleans-style wrought iron balcony, was found in the Hillcrest area of San Diego.” The business opened in October 2004 under the direction of Martin Kasper, a graduate metalworker and jeweler, and the first clients were Randall McNames and Victor Kazakevich of Del Mar, together 33 years.
When Martin moved to Chicago, Jay Whaley, metalsmith and 25-year veteran of the craft who had taught in Arizona, Hawaii, and at San Diego State University, took over the business. Jay was a WRW natural. “Wedding rings,” he says, “the most personal expression of love and commitment, are often bought, ready-made from a jewelry store, or possibly custom made by a jeweler. Wedding Ring Workshop, however, is something else entirely, and it is one of the most gratifying enterprises I have ever known.” Since then, Master Jewelers have signed on as licensees, offering the same service in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC, with Honolulu due shortly. ●● cont’d
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 21
Circle of Love
Belinda and Jennifer display cups of metal fragments that will form their rings.
The Wedding Ring Process It is a precise process, Jay explains, beginning when he shows couples a tray of sample rings. Jay says, “I discuss many options involving shapes, widths, textures or special elements they want to incorporate into their rings.” Jennifer Spearel and Belinda Romero of San Diego, who made their rings in September 2008, explain that this was one of their favorite parts of the workshop. “Jay Whaley greeted us in such a warm and open way and he encouraged us to be creative, laugh and enjoy the day.” One decision that Jennifer and Belinda, and other couples, have to immediately make concerns the metal to be used. Lewis explains, “Precious metal jewelry is manufactured from three main families of metals: gold, platinum and silver.” (Please see sidebar for more information.) He adds that gold can be further broken down into three favorites: yellow, white and colored gold, and that the platinum family includes palladium, rhodium and platinum. Randall and Victor, who chose making their own rings as a sentimental, meaningful mutual act to demonstrate their
commitment to each other, had the idea for their metals and design prior to arrival. “Quite simply, Randall says, “it was a white gold ring, sandwiched between two thin yellow gold rings, signifying the unification (the white gold) of two individuals (the two smaller outside gold rings).” James Daniels and Scott Colvin of La Mesa, together 7 years, had a different experience when creating their rings in 2005. “We did not have a design idea,” James says. “Instead we solicited ideas from Jay Whaley and made our decision based on his expert advice.” Jim and Scott decided on “simple” bands of 18k white gold in a hammered finish. “We identified with that idea,” James says, “because we live our lives with simplicity in mind. We chose the hammered finish because it symbolized the craftsman look and like all craftsmen you must work with your hammer in order to build your house, like building your relationship. ...Not to mention it has a shimmering finish.” For Jennifer and Belinda the experience began a bit differently. Jennifer explains, “We started with two little cups of platinum and had no idea what the final design would look like.” Jason Ray and Gregory Clune of San Diego, together 9 years, discovered the concept for
their bands while attending one of WRW’s informational open houses where Jay explains the entire process to couples.
the most challenging. “This had to be done carefully without cracking it, or you had to start all over again.”
Of the initial concept creation, Jay says, “I try to be as creative as possible, to let them make rings that are unique to them.” He documents the dimensions and descriptions of the planned rings, estimates the amount of metal needed, and weighs out that amount. Then he begins documenting the couple’s process too. “With the disposable camera we provide each couple, I photograph them holding the two little dishes of metal bits, as they start off their ring-making process.”
However, showing just how individual the wedding ring creation process can be, Jason and Gregory said this was their favorite part when crafting their own bands in March, 2009. “We loved annealing the platinum, especially after the ring took shape,” Jason explains.
Melting The first step after selecting the metal is melting it, which Lewis says most couples find fascinating. James Daniels and Scott Colvin found this to be true. “Melting down the gold and turning it into an ingot was our favorite part,” James says. Jay explains that couples don protective aprons and safety glasses, and using a high temperature jeweler’s torch that is fed a mixture of oxygen and gas, he coaches them in melting their metal. “When it is molten,” Jay says, “they pour that liquid metal into a steel mold and create the ingot.”
Milling Next comes milling, and Jay explains, “From the poured ingot I supervise the couple’s use of a manual rolling mill, a handle operated machine that slowly forms that rough ingot into a square rod of the correct width for each of their rings.” James and Scott explain how they completed this part of the process. “We milled the rings into a stretched shape, which would later become the foundation of our rings. We stretched the ingot into a large wire, and then we bent the wire into rough-looking ring shapes and trimmed them.”
Using a high temperature jeweler’s torch Scott melts the metal to form his ring.
Lunch! The next step is a much-needed break and lunch, whereby the jewelers provide menus from local restaurants. “We call in the lunch order,” Jay says,” “and have our meals delivered to the studio where we eat, and get to know each other better.”
Scott (right) uses the milling machine as partner James (left) curiously looks on.
Bending, Sawing, Soldering Back at work, the afternoon is spent on the remaining stages of the process, Jay explains, all of which he photographs. “When the metal strips are finally rolled into the correct shape, width and thickness, I help the couple cut these strips with a jeweler’s saw into the correct length.” The strips are then hammered around a mandrill into bands, and Jay shows the couple how to solder the ends together with the propane/oxygen torch using more of their precious metal and the appropriate colormatch solder.” For Jason and Greg, this step presented a challenge. “We found the hardest part to be soldering the rings,” Jason explained. “The small pieces of solder would fly off very easily.”
Hammering the ring around the mandrill to create the proper shape.
Jason solders his ring, under the supervision of Jay Whaley of WRW.
Shaping, Buffing, Polishing “Then it’s on to the three final steps,” Jay says, “including shaping, where the excess solder is filed off and the ring is shaped.” Rings are then buffed to remove remaining file marks, the shape is refined, and jeweler’s polish is applied. ●● cont’d
As part of the finishing process, Greg files and polishes his ring.
For Randall and Victor, annealing during this stage -reducing stress within the metal by heating to a prescribed temperature- was
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 23
Circle of Love
The Precious Metals
James & Scott exchange their WRW wedding bands during their historic ceremony at the Marston House Formal Gardens, Balboa Park CA on June 21, 2008. Photo: Big Mike, San Diego CA
Lewis Barnes of Wedding Ring Workshop has provided the following information for couples to take into consideration as they select and create their own wedding bands: The Metals:
Precious metal jewelry is manufactured from three main families of metals: gold, platinum and silver.
Each karat is a weight measure of fine gold present in the alloy equivalent to 1/24th. There are numerous qualities local to areas such as Europe and the Far East. These include 8K, 9K, 10K, 20K and 21K, but there are only three hallmark qualities recognized internationally: 14K, 18K and 22K.
Gold: Yellow Gold White Gold Colored gold Platinum: Palladium Rhodium Platinum Alloys of Gold – Why Not Pure Gold?
Pure gold is too soft for “everyday” jewelry. It will bend quite easily and dent, scratch etc with very little pressure. So jewelers blend it with other metals (such as silver, copper, nickel and zinc) using a technique known as “alloying,“ giving it durability and wear-resistance.. The technique also allows jewelers to vary the color of the resulting alloy, giving a range of hues for yellow gold alloys and creating families of red, green and white gold alloys.
14K is 14/24ths or 58.3% fine gold by weight
18K is 18/24ths or 75%
22K is 22/24ths or 91.7% fine gold
In nature there exist only two true colored metals: gold and copper. All other metals are various shades of grey. Not only is gold a precious, inert and highly reflective metal, it also possesses a naturally beautiful yellow color that has captivated humankind for thousands of years. Are All Yellow Gold Alloys the Same Color?
The lustrous deep natural yellow color of gold is only possible when it is pure. It changes as other metals are mixed with it for strength and, sometimes, to meet the demands of a currently fashionable color.
The Karats of Gold
The different levels of gold found in alloys are measured in “karats.” (The word “karats” is derived from the time when gold was compared to a specific number of carob beans.)
If the alloy contains: · High percentage of copper = pink hue · High percentage of silver = gold with a greener shade of yellow · Equal amounts of copper or silver = gold that is “neutral yellow” · High percentage of nickel or palladium = white gold Do Karats Affect Colors?
As the karat level of an alloy is decreased, the yellow color is also decreased. However, when added to lower karat alloys of gold, silver and copper, zinc helps restore richness. 22 KARAT GOLD - This high karat metal, close to pure gold, has a desirable color but is too soft for use in jewelry, especially rings. RED, PINK & ROSE GOLD - All 3 of these high copper/silver/gold alloys have similar properties. Adding more copper to the alloy = reduction in percentage of silver, giving the metal a warm hue. WHITE GOLD - Regardless of karat, white gold alloys fall into two categories: those that use nickel to bleach the yellow gold, or those that use palladium. NICKEL ALLOYS - The majority of white gold jewelry in the US is manufactured using alloys containing nickel as the bleaching agent, because nickel has the strongest “bleaching power” in gold alloys. Nickel and gold do not mix together well, so rings are commonly plated with rhodium for a bright, silvery appearance. PALLADIUM ALLOYS - Palladium –a member of the platinum family- is also used to make white gold alloys, and plating of jewelry is not needed.
Circle of Love while sitting on a boulder at the edge of the ocean late that afternoon, near the Pacific Beach pier in San Diego County.” Jennifer and Belinda chose to leave their rings blank. “We haven’t had them inscribed yet,” Belinda explains. “It’s a forever sort of statement and we want it to be right.”
Tears and Laughter
The Finished Product! Scott & James showcase their creations; Belinda & Jennifer’s hand-crafted wedding bands.
At this point, most couples’ rings are finished, but those designs incorporating gemstones take an additional few days. “Of course, stone setting is a skill all of its own,” Lewis explains, “and cannot be taught in one day.” Those rings are left with the jeweler for mounting the gems at a later time.
Satan replies in a very deep voice, ‘I am.’” Jason explains that Greg’s ring reads, “Who’s your creampuff?” and his reads, “I am.”
Jay says 90% of couples who want gemstones choose diamonds, which he has readily available or can order. But he adds that couples often bring in diamonds from relatives’ rings. “That’s an amazing thing,” he says. “It’s a way of saying ‘I want to include this, incorporate this into my own band.’ That way they can have grandma’s ring with them.”
Randall and Victor chose a special date too. “That date (7/9/76),” Randall explains, “is the day we actually committed our lives together by exchanging simple words
James and Scott chose the date they met for their inscription: 01-20-2003, along with one another’s initials.
All the jewelers concur that at this point, most couples gaze “into” their rings. “They remember all the processes that went into this creation, and that they made these perfect rings themselves, for each other,” Jay comments. “It’s more touching than you can imagine.” He adds that tears are not the exception. Jason and Greg summarized their day. “We liked the idea that we could design and make our own rings, instead of it being such a generic process. The experience was great! We felt very relieved when it all came together.” ●● cont’d
Champagne! Whether a couple’s rings are complete or will await the inclusion of gemstones, a celebration is now in order and the couple toasts their sparkling creations with champagne in crystal flutes. This is the ultimate photo op of the day, and also the moment for engraving. “At this time,” Jay concludes, “while they enjoy their champagne, I engrave any personal message the couple might want inside of each ring.” Jason and Greg chose an inscription based on the South Park movie. “The scene shows Saddam Hussein and Satan having a lovers’ argument,” Jason explains. “Saddam says to Satan, ‘Who’s my creampuff?’ to which
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 25
Circle of Love Randall and Victor admit that their emotions ran the gamut. “We went through a range of emotions... everything from ‘why didn’t we just go out and buy some rings?’” Randall laughs, “....to a great sense of satisfaction that we actually fabricated each other’s rings.” Randall adds that this was one of his favorite parts of the process. “It was the realization that I (being someone who is not at all artistic) could -under the supervision of a professional- actually create a work of art that would be a lasting expression of my commitment.”
Victor Kazakevich, seated, & Randall McNames, on Christmas Eve 2008, at the Ahwahnee Hotel’s annual Bracebridge dinner, Yosemite National Park
Jennifer and Belinda found their day filled with emotion too. “There was nervousness about making something perfect for each other,” Belinda explains, “laughter about our special bug-eye protection glasses, a relaxed sense of achievement when we really started to see how wonderful they were.” She adds, “And of course, love -the experience gave us an opportunity to really
Photo: Nancy Robbins Photography
be with each other and focus solely on the experience.” James and Scott saw this as a contemplative moment as well. “This entire process brought us closer together,” James says, “as this was an opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship. We felt as if the Wedding Ring Workshop was the perfect symbol of creating our future together. There was nothing like the feeling of looking at each other and seeing the excitement and joy in each other’s eyes as we made the other’s ring.” When asked about the most challenging part for them, James and Scott agreed. “What was the hardest part? Leaving the workshop because we had such a wonderful experience.” Wedding Ring Workshop 866.583.6982 firstname.lastname@example.org www.weddingringworkshop.com
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RainbowWeddingNetwork proudly presents:
The Top 75 LGBTQ Friendly Companies of the Season Since 2000, it’s been our goal to screen wedding, home & family-related businesses all across North America for you & your partner. After all, planning your wedding, dreaming about your vacation or meeting the unique needs of your growing family should be FUN, free from awkwardness and instead filled with moments of sincere respect and excitement. Remember, the categories listed here are general guidelines. Many of these businesses offer several services, so be sure to call them directly or visit their website. You won’t want to miss any fabulous details!
Bands, Musicians & DJs Affinity Music Voted #1 in live music by TheKnot.com Entire Chicagoland Area & Beyond PO Box 5523 Woodridge, IL 60517 (630) 795-1812 Andreanna@debewelch.com Booking@DebeWelch.com www.myspace.com/affinitystringtrio KC Sound Express DJs You get my personal and professional service and attention. Serving Central Florida 523 Leaf Circle Deland, FL 32724 (386) 736-6221 email@example.com www.kc-soundexpressdjs.com Legend the Band Live Music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Based in Michigan (734) 787-1314 firstname.lastname@example.org www.legendtheband.com Mad Mike & Friends DJ Service Your Wedding, Your Way! Serving the entire Tri-State Area Poughkeepsie, NY (845) 485-7792 email@example.com www.madmikeandfriends.com Music for the Moment String Quartet, Trio, Duo and Solo Violin Serving Northern and Central New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, Manhattan, Staten Island (973) 543-2402 firstname.lastname@example.org www.string-music.com
Wave Link Music, Inc. Award Winning, Experienced, Professional, Friendly DJs for Weddings & Parties! Serving the Greater Puget Sound PO Box 14459 Mill Creek, WA 98082 (800) 360-9283, toll-free (425) 771-1167, local email@example.com www.wavelinkmusic.com
- Categories -
Banquet & Event Facilities/Reception Sites Congress Plaza Hotel A Chicago Original 520 S. Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60605 (312) 427-3800 x5077 firstname.lastname@example.org www.congressplazahotel.com www.congressplazahotel.com/weddings.htm Greystone Hall Unique. Enchanting. Exquisite. Storybook. An Unparalleled Site for Elegant Events. By Appointment Only 1034 Phoenixville Pike West Chester, PA 19380 (610) 696-1272 email@example.com www.greystonehall.com
Bands, Musicians & DJs Banquet & Event Facilities/Reception Sites B & Bs/Inns/Wedding Packages for Intimate Ceremonies Caterers/Restaurants Destination Weddings Event Production Favors, Gifts & Keepsakes Florals Formal Wear & Apparel Hotels & Resorts Invitations/Calligraphy/Albums Jewelers Marriage Equality Organizations Officiants/Places of Worship Photographers Rentals / Specialty Entertainment Services Salons, Spas & Cosmetics Videographers Websites & Planning Resources
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Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 27
NORTH AMERICA’S TOP 75 LGBTQ-Friendly Companies
Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, Sp-IL ♥ Chicago’s #1 value, located in the heart of the city. 350 West Mart Center Dr. Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 836-5000 email@example.com www.martplaza.com Oaks Bluff Lodge Weddings & Honeymoons - One of the most spectacular views in British Columbia. 5901 Pirates Rd. Pender Island, British Columbia Canada V0N 2M2 (866) 228-4397, toll-free (250) 884-6945, local firstname.lastname@example.org www.bcislandviews.com OHEKA Castle OHEKA Castle – Imagine the possibilities. 135 West Gate Drive Huntington, NY 11743 (631) 659-1400 email@example.com www.oheka.com Sheraton Washington North Sheraton Washington North specializes in service and delivers your dream. 4095 Powder Mill Rd. Beltsville, MD 20705 (301) 937-4422 firstname.lastname@example.org www.sheratonwashingtonnorth.com Tacoma Art Museum Host a spectacular celebration that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma, WA 98402 (253) 272-4258 x 3039 (253) 627-1898, fax Events@TacomaArtMuseum.org www.TacomaArtMuseum.org/PrivateEvents Tarrywile Mansion 70 Southern Blvd. Danbury, CT 06810 (203) 744-3130 email@example.com www.tarrywile.com
Sullivan House Wedding & Reception Hall Traditional Antebellum Wedding & Reception Site 3228 Powder Springs Rd. Powder Springs, GA 30127 (770) 439-6600 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com www.sullivanhouse.com Waterways Cruises & Events, Sp-WA ♥ Luxury Yachts... Gourmet Cuisine... Stunning Views... Unforgettable Events! 2501 N. Northlake Way Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 223-2060 firstname.lastname@example.org www.waterwayscruises.com
B & Bs/Inns/Wedding Packages for Intimate Ceremonies Brass Lantern B&B Romantic Weddings & Lodging near the “Bridges of Madison County” 2446 State Highway 92 Greenfield, IA 50849 (888) 743-2031, toll-free email@example.com www.brasslantern.com The Highlands Inn One of the most romantic lesbian destinations on the planet! PO Box 118 Valley View Lane Bethlehem, NH 03574 (877) LES-B-INN (537-2466); (603) 869-3978, local firstname.lastname@example.org www.highlandsinn-nh.com The Porches Inn Perfect for intimate, memorable weddings! 231 River Street North Adams, MA 01247 (413) 664-0400 email@example.com www.porches.com Poulsbo Inn & Suites The Place with the Olympic Mountain View 18680 State Hwy 305 NE Poulsbo, WA 98370 (800) 597-5151, toll-free (360) 779-3921, local firstname.lastname@example.org www.poulsboinn.com
NORTH AMERICA’S TOP 75 LGBTQ-Friendly Companies
The Red Lion Inn Picture-Perfect Weddings! Warm hospitality and superb cuisine in historic surroundings. 30 Main Street Stockbridge, MA 01262-0954 (413) 298-1604, Wedding Specialist (413) 298-5545, Reservations email@example.com www.redlioninn.com
Victoria’s Mansion Guest House 68 Gloucester St. Toronto, Ontario Canada M4Y 1L5 (416) 921-4625 firstname.lastname@example.org www.victoriasmansion.com
Favors, Gifts & Keepsakes
Wild Rose Inn Experience your wedding or honeymoon at Iowa’s Premier Bed & Breakfast. 2625 - 41st Street Spirit Lake, IA 51360 (877) 855-7673, toll-free (712) 332-9986, local email@example.com www.wildroseresort.com
Caterers/Restaurants FareStart Great food. Better lives. Elegant events. Serving Greater Seattle 700 Virginia Street Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 267-7606 firstname.lastname@example.org www.farestart.org
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Powerstation Events Entertainment and Full Event Services 1463 Highland Ave. Cheshire, CT 06410 (800) 423-7835, toll-free email@example.com www.powerstationevents.com
Candles, Gifts & More, LLC Custom Candles and Personalized Gifts & Favors Serving Nationwide! 1698 Courtney Dr. St. Clair, MO 63077 (877) 239-0027, toll-free (636) 629-0027, local firstname.lastname@example.org www.candlesgiftsandmore.com The Fortunate Cookie Serving the World (802) 888-5706 (866) 266-5337, toll-free email@example.com www.thefortunatecookie.com My Gift Box Company Exquisite Favors for all Occasions Open by appointment only Los Gatos, CA (408) 395-6867 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mygiftboxcompany.com Spectra Sundial That Perfect Anniversary Gift – Their Own Customized Rainbow! Serving Worldwide (513) 253-5497 email@example.com www.spectrasundial.com Whimsy Home Decor and Unique Gifts “Seriously Fun” Colorful Contemporary Items that will make you Smile Corner of 14th & Pine 1535 14th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122 (206) 324-4679 firstname.lastname@example.org www.whimsyhomedecor.com
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 29
NORTH AMERICA’S TOP 75 LGBTQ-Friendly Companies
Apple Blossoms Floral Design & Gifts “Designs for a Lifetime...One Seed at a Time.” Tampa Bay and Surrounding Areas 3627 West Kennedy Blvd. Tampa, FL 33609 (813) 985-6409 email@example.com www.appleblossomstampa.com
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Formal Wear & Apparel Alluring Bridal 27 years creating men’s and women’s dreams, by appointment only. Central New Hampshire and More! 26 Daniel Webster Highway Sanbornton, NH 03269 (603) 528-5656 email@example.com www.alluringbridal.net La Belle Elaine’s “Customer Voted by The Knot ‘Best Bridal Salon’ 2008 & 2009” Fisher Plaza 140 4th Ave. North, Suite 150 Seattle, WA 98109 (206) 404-0888 firstname.lastname@example.org www.labelleelaines.com
Hotels & Resorts Chart House Suites 850 Bayway Blvd. Clearwater Beach , FL 33767 (727) 449-8007 rose@ChartHouseSuites.com www.ChartHouseSuites.com
Jewelers Elizabeta Jewelry Jewelry with a Conscience Mankato, MN 56001 Shop online or by appointment (507) 380-3937 email@example.com www.elizabetajewelry.com Tender Beauty Pearls Female-owned tenderbeautypearls.com sells fine pearl jewelry at great prices™. Serving Nationwide (877) PEARL-01, toll-free firstname.lastname@example.org www.tenderbeautypearls.com
Marriage Equality Organizations Same Love, Same Rights ® Sp-NATL ♥ Individuals all across America making a difference. Online Forums, Lapel Pins, Union Certificates, Petitions & more. Proud Producer of nationwide LGBTQ Wedding Expos – 30 events since 2003! (866) 251-1564, toll-free www.SameLoveSameRights.com
Officiants/Places of Worship A Loving Unity Officiant - Rev. Bishop Serving in Florida & New England (727) 532-6186, Florida (207) 590-6339, New England LovingUnity@gmail.com www.lovingunity.com Dave Miller Weddings Wedding Ceremony Officiating without the dogma of mainstream religion. Serving Northern New Jersey and surrounding areas Pompton Lakes, NJ (973) 896-7905 Dave@DaveMillerWeddings.com www.DaveMillerWeddings.com
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Mary C. Pugh, CT’s Top Justice of the Peace “Marriage in a Day” or “The Grandest of Events” Serving all of Connecticut 24/7 (203) 838-1038 (203) 434 5038, cell email@example.com www.ct-jp.com Rabbi Mordecai Genn, PhD Interfaith ceremonies: Celebrate the cycle of life with beauty and warmth. Serving Manhattan and surrounding areas Mount Vernon, NY (914) 668-8987 firstname.lastname@example.org www.manhattanbrides.com/weddaystories/ Experts-Vows-Inv/PCMordecai.html
Photographers Affordable Pro Photo & Video By Appointment Only Davie, FL (954) 978-9776 email@example.com www.apphotovideo.com As You Wish Photography Quality and Affordability in Long Island and the Five Boroughs (631) 816-3528 firstname.lastname@example.org www.asyouwishphotography.net BarnDog Photo We capture the moments of your life Serving the Chicagoland Area (630) 815-7990 email@example.com www.barndogphoto.com Images by Misti Layne Where photographs become love’s expression. See Love!! San Francisco based, worldwide travel. 411A Brannan Street, Suite 5 San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 225-1128 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mistilayneweddings.com www.mistilayne.com/blog Images Event Studios Serving throughout New England 21 Mark Ave. Webster, MA 01570 (617) 610-1188 email@example.com www.imageseventstudios.com
Joe Gallo Photography Serving the greater Chicago area, including Northern Indiana and Lower Michigan (708) 203-0379 firstname.lastname@example.org www.joegallophotography.com
Rentals / Specialty Entertainment Services Fotos-R-Fun Photo Booth Rentals, featuring custom graphics for Your Special Keepsakes! Serving all of Central and Southern Florida (941) 473-3790 email@example.com www.fotos-r-fun.com T Minus One We deliver the arcade experience to you for any occasion! Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and All of the West Coast 3195 Park Road, Suite D Benicia, CA 94510 (707) 745-9360 firstname.lastname@example.org www.arcadeparty.com
Salons, Spas & Cosmetics Eva of Sweden A Full Service Day Spa and Beauty Salon Marriott Hotel Rt# 119 Tarrytown, NY 10591 (914) 631-6111 email@example.com www.evaofsweden.com
Videographers Celeste Studios Film & Video Productions Serving Nationwide, New York and Beverly Hills (866) 749-9526, toll-free firstname.lastname@example.org www.celestestudios.com
Websites & Planning Resources RainbowWeddingNetwork.com, Sp-NATL ♥ Your trusted online wedding resource… since 2000. Couples’ Webpages, Tips, Trends & more! (866) 251-1564, toll-free email@example.com www.RainbowWeddingNetwork.com
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 31
On February 23, 2007, Elena Cardona and Liz Quinones were one of the first couples in New Jersey to enter into a legally recognized civil union. They were also the first couple ever to be featured on the cover of RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine! 2009 finds Elena, Liz and their family celebrating another exciting milestone. Congratulations, Quinones Family!
(For previous articles about Elena & Liz, including the Q&A from last issue prior to Baby Eli’s birth, visit us online at www.RWNMagazine.com) RWN Magazine (RWNM): Tell us a little bit about your relationship as it is today, now that you two have journeyed together through friendship, romance, a historic civil union celebration, been newlyweds... and now look toward your future. Elena (EQ): Since we had the ceremony for our Civil Union, life has just been wonderful. You never realize how much one day (meaning
our Wedding Day) really does mean to you until you have finally done it. I will never forget how Liz used to tell me when we were just friends that she would never get married, but if you ask her that same question today her answer would be that she would do it over and over again if we could. It meant that much. It wasn’t long after our Wedding -actually March of 2007, to be exact- that we started talking and thinking about adding a little someone to our family. I have Surrounded by friends & family, Elena & Liz celebrate their civil biological children of my own, union ceremony in February 2007. One of the first couples in who we are raising together and New Jersey to commit to each other under the then-newlyLiz has been in their lives for many enacted civil union legislation, Elena & Liz planned their celebration in just six weeks. Photo: Lauren Guiliano of Ultrax years. But we had never shared Disc Jockeys, Photography & Videography the experience from the beginning and Liz has no children of her own. stress of losing my only brother at just 27 years So we both decided that it would old, we also lost the pregnancy. be the perfect completion to our family. So our journey began. We decided it would be best to take a break for a couple of months before trying again. We RWNM: What metaphor would you use to decided to switch doctors and start fresh. To describe the process of becoming pregnant? make a really long and tumultuous story short, What were some of the high and low points of after about 8 more attempts, several heartbreaks the journey to your successful conception? and so much more, our dreams were almost coming true. We found out that we were EQ: The best way to describe our process pregnant in July 2008! of becoming pregnant is a long, scary roller coaster, which we almost jumped off of plenty RWNM: Would you mind sharing a bit of times! We are so happy that we had the more about the process of conception and the courage to hold on. pregnancy itself? We don’t think that there was anything that EQ: It was something you can’t even describe could have prepared us for what was ahead. I guess, or prepare yourself for. I didn’t plan We decided to take Liz’s egg with a donor my other kids and here I am doing it the ‘right’ sperm and have me (Elena) carry the baby. This way (getting married, actively planning to have process sounds a lot easier then it really is. We both had to take shots in our stomachs everyday another child…) and we had so much trouble. And still, even trying 10 times like we did was for about two weeks to prepare our bodies for actually under the average. the process. We were extremely blessed to become pregnant after just two attempts. But ●● cont’d, p.52 our happiness was cut short when, due to the
Upscale & Trendy Renovations, New Focus on LGBT Clients Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island commits to Gay & Lesbian New Yorkers
The luxurious Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island is celebrating a recently completed $2.5 million renovation featuring dramatic design with metropolitan and international influences. Nicotra’s Ballroom, the special events venue of the Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island, is a 30,000 square ft. banquet space which boasts a new look while featuring the same client-focused staff and highly regarded Executive Chef, Sonny Soemarsono, formerly of the St. Regis Hotel and the Rainbow Room. Along with its trendy and elegant refinements, the Hilton is adding a committed new focus to targeting LGBT clients from Staten Island, Manhattan, New Jersey and beyond. The Hilton is proudly hosting kick-off festivities for the 5th Annual Gay Pride Parade on May 31st, offering a buffet and dancing as well as a free pool party for the children of gay and lesbian parents who may be in attendance. The hotel has also offered several Tea Dances specifically catered to the LGBT community; the next upcoming event date is scheduled for September 13th.
The interior renovation is highlighted by sumptuous wall coverings and beautiful gilded seating that the Nicotras first saw featured in the St. Regis Hotel. Gorgeous, dramatic draperies manufactured by the company that provided sets for Broadway’s Wicked and other productions frame striking views of the surrounding preserved woodland setting. The warm, vivid color palette allows Nicotra’s Ballroom to maintain an intimate feel within each unique banquet space including the cobblestoned, silk tented, heated Trevi Garden and the contemporary, glassenclosed Japanese Tea House featuring indoor water elements and an outdoor Koi Pond and pagoda.
The Hilton Garden Inn’s 150 guest rooms also received significant upgrades with flat screen plasma televisions and opulent duvet covers as well as new draperies, furniture, bed systems and carpets installed in every room. Hallways and entranceways feature new wall coverings and carpeting. Owner Richard Nicotra enthuses, “We are intent on offering our guests, including gay and lesbian couples planning their receptions, the upscale service, style and setting of a Manhattan venue with a weekend’s worth of amenities and entertainment onsite. We take pride that their destination-style wedding can be ●● cont’d
Hilton owners Richard and Lois Nicotra embarked on the renovation in their quest to provide special event clients and their guests with a catering facility featuring the finest dining in a luxury setting. A new $100,000 Fountain Plaza and fresh signage greet guests in the valet circle; timeless, rich fabrics and furnishings carry the guests into pre-function areas and ballrooms including imported Belgium floor coverings and the fabric work of Broadway set designers.
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 33
Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island achieved with onsite events from Friday night through Sunday morning at a venue their guests can access easily.â€? Minutes from Newark Airport and Manhattan, the Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island is easily accessible and offers a free shuttle to and from Newark Airport and the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan. Mr. Nicotra and his staff look to the same-sex marriage legislation under consideration in New York as a promising and exciting milestone for their guests, hopeful that favorable pro-
marriage laws will soon pass throughout the Empire State. The Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island houses Lorenzoâ€™s Restaurant, Bar & Cabaret and the swanky Lobby Lounge which further illustrates the Nicotrasâ€™ commitment to upscale dĂŠcor. World-renowned stars popular with LGBT audiences such as Lucie Arnaz, Marcus Simeone, Jason Graae and Danny Aiello perform regularly on Lorenzoâ€™s stage while the adjacent Lobby Lounge serves as a sophisticated setting for private parties and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.
Nestled in 415 acres of protected woodlands, this grand hotel offers a full service spa, world-class cabaret, and the elegant Nicotraâ€™s Ballroom. The Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island is an exceptional gathering spot for gay and lesbian couples and singles who seek fine dining, gracious service and sophisticated elegance. For event information: Carroll Tavella, 718-477-2400 ext 3410 For more information on Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island and Nicotraâ€™s Ballroom: www.NicotrasBallroom.com www.LorenzosDining.com
Select Italy 8FEEJOHTBOE)POFZNPPOTJO*UBMZ PP TFMFDUJUBMZDPN
$FGBMV 4JDJMZ Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 35
Same-Gender Weddings: Affirmed by Susan Hart Hellman contributing writer
With this one word, AFFIRMED, on April 3, 2009 the history of same-gender marriage in the State of Iowa was positively amended. History of Social Issues in Iowa Although Varnum v. Brien surprised many who believed such a ruling would never happen in a “heart-land” state, the legislation is actually in keeping with Iowa’s history of leadership in social change.
Far before the Civil War, in 1839 the Iowa Supreme Court declared a Missouri slave free once he entered Iowa. In 1851 the Iowa General Assembly removed an interracial marriage ban, 102 years prior to a similar federal ruling. Iowa was first to allow married women property ownership in their own names in 1851. In 1868 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a student could not be barred from
receiving an education due to race, and a year later Arabella Mansfield became the United States’ first female lawyer thanks to the Iowa Supreme Court. In 1873 that same court declared that a woman of mixed-race had the right to dine in a “Whites Only” restaurant. Is it any wonder this State’s motto, created in 1847, proclaims “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain”? History of Varnum v. Brien
IN THE SUPREME CO URT OF IOWA No. 07–1499 Filed April 3, 20 09 KATHERINE VARNUM , PATRICIA HYDE , DAWN BARBOURO JENNIFER BARBOURO SKE, SKE, JASON MORGAN , CHARLES SWAGGE DAVID TWOMBLEY, RTY, LAWRENCE HOCH, WI LLIAM M. MUSSER DREAMING, INGRID , OTTER OLSON, and REVA EVANS, Appellees,
TIMOTHY J. BRIEN, In His Official Ca County Recorder pacities as the and Polk County Polk Registrar, Appellant. Appeal from the Iowa District Co Robert B. Hanson urt for Polk Coun , Judge. ty,
Defendant appeal s from district ruling holding st court summary ju ate statute limi dgment ting civil marria union between a ge to a man and a woman unconstitutional . AFFIRMED.
In 1998, Iowa seemed to take a giant leap backward when its gay and lesbian citizens’ liberties and rights were withheld via the passage of the state’s “one man/one woman” Defense of Marriage Act. But in 2005 six Iowa same-gender couples requested marriage licenses from the Polk County registrar Tim O’ Brien. In compliance with the 1998 law, licenses were denied. Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of those couples, including Katherine Varnum and Patricia Hyde, in the Polk County District Court. Varnum V. Brien claimed inequality in the protection of these couples’ constitutional rights. On August 30 2007, Polk County District Court judge Robert Hanson issued a ruling striking down the 1998 law, but the next day, he placed a stay on his ruling pending appeal by the Polk County Attorney to the Iowa Supreme Court. However, on April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld his ruling; the 1998 act was struck down, and Iowa became the third state, and the first “heartland” state, to legalize same-gender marriage. Courts were instructed to begin issuing licenses to samegender couples on April 27, and hundreds of couples applied, including some from Minnesota and Nebraska. ●● cont’d
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 37
Carrie says when she heard they could legally marry, she couldn’t believe it. “It’s a dream,” she says. “I am still in shock. I cried when I heard the news. I was at work and I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘We can really get married!’”
Carrie (left) and partner Crayola.
THE COUPLES Carrie and Crayola Among those married since the April 3 decision are Carrie Visser, a nurse, and Crayola England, a photographer. Carrie and Crayola of Des Moines, together for two years, chose a wedding set at their home.
Carrie and Crayola met at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival 16 years ago, and Carrie says although they didn’t connect at that time, Crayola revealed later she’d thought Carrie was “really cute!” A few years later Carrie’s daughter met Crayola and asked her mother, “Why don’t you ever go out with anyone cool like Crayola?” Eventually, Carrie did go out with the very hip Crayola. She recalls, “The spring of 2007 we were both having lunch on Easter Day in the same restaurant with our separate friends. I sat facing Crayola in the next
booth.” Carrie had recently ended a five-year relationship and for the first time in quite a while was feeling good about herself. “I now believe that self-love attracts romantic love,” she says. Although the couple didn’t connect that day either, Crayola set out on a mission to find Carrie. After a very long string of calls to friends and friends of friends, at last she found the woman she would eventually marry. The couple clicked. At that point, Carrie says, “We knew right away that we were meant to be together.” So their first wedding, April 11, 2008, shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone, but by design it was! “We invited friends and family to an ‘Anniversary Party,’” Carrie explains, “and once they were there, we announced we were really having a wedding.” For that first ceremony, it was Carrie who had done the asking, so upon Iowa’s legalization of same-gender
Décor included potted plants, which guests took home as gifts, and a caterer friend prepared a delectable array: prawns on ice with gourmet shrimp dip, skewered marinated beef and chicken with vegetables, bacon-wrapped grilled asparagus, sausage stuffed mushrooms, and a dark chocolate cake with red and black raspberries. Crayola and Carrie exchange vows before friends and family (May 10, 2009.)
Culinary delights at the reception (May 10, 2009.)
marriage, Carrie told Crayola this time it was her turn to ‘pop the question.’ “Later that day,” Carrie recalls, “when I least suspected it, she got down on one knee and said, ‘You are the love of my life and I want to be with you forever.’” Carrie replied, “Are you asking me to marry you?” When Crayola said ‘yes,’ Carrie said ‘yes’ too. The couple planned on an April 11 wedding, a second anniversary celebration, but because licenses weren’t issued until April 27, Crayola and Carrie -who has three children and two grandchildren- chose Mother’s Day instead.
Rev. Rich and Rohn Davenport, Iowa residents Rohn Rich and Rich Hendricks, pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad Cities (MCC QC), married on May 3, 2009 at the MCC Church. Rohn is an independent consultant for insurance companies and Rev. Rich is a full-time pastor, who says he has a deep interest in social justice issues. He is also a licensed Illinois attorney. Prior to their marriage, the couple had been committed to one another for nine years. Rohn and Rev. Rich met at Holy Covenant MCC in Hinsdale, Illinois. “I had met the pastor there,” Rev. Rich explains, “and asked if he knew of anyone who had space to rent, as I was moving from Mississippi to Chicago. The pastor suggested Rohn, and when I went over to his place we really clicked and the rest is history.” On the first anniversary
of their relationship, they exchanged rings in a private ceremony. In August 2004, Rev. Rich began officiating ceremonies himself. “I was contacted by my denomination to come to MCC QC to perform “I Do” ceremonies,” he explains. “Couples had applied for and been denied wedding licenses.” In response, they were organizing a series of non-legally-binding ceremonies, to bring attention to the issue. Rev. Rich continues, “They wanted to have lots of people attend their holy unions publicly to make a statement about the need for equality. Twenty-one couples were united in God’s Love during that weekend, and I performed 16 of the ceremonies. Twelve of them were held jointly at MCC QC.” During that time he realized how much he liked MCC QC, and since the Church needed a pastor, he applied. He and Rohn knew that when Iowa legalized same-gender marriage they would marry again, and when the announcement of legalization came, they knew when and where to wed. “When the Church began planning a special ceremony,” Rev. Rich explains, “we knew it was the right thing for us to do.” This historic event was to be a shared ceremony with seven other samegender couples from the Church. ●● cont’d
Rev. Rich married several couples on May 3, 2009 including Daren & Curtis, pictured with Rev. Rich (top middle) and Cara & Erin (top right.) Rev. Rich and partner Rohn (lower right) were also among the couples to tie-the-knot. After all the ceremonies were performed, couples joined in a group reception to celebrate the day (left vertical.) Photos: Cathy Bolkcam
The May 10 ceremony was all about spring, Carrie says. She chose a spring-patterned dress and Crayola wore light blue and white to reflect the theme. Their eleven-yearold granddaughter played piano and sang “Ave Maria,” and their officiant, Reverend Amy, read a Laguna Pueblo prayer the couple requested, stating “I add my breath to your breath, that our days may be long on this earth, that the days of our people may be long, that we shall be as one person, that we may finish our road together.” They exchanged the rings worn since their first ceremony in 2008, after a blessing from Reverend Amy.
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 39
Each couple received a special wedding keepsake from the Church, and also a spring flower bouquet donated anonymously by supporters of marriage equality from other states. Rev. Rich comments, “There has been an outpouring of love and support from people in MCCs and from total strangers all over the world.” Dean and Gary Mason City residents Dean Genth and Gary Swenson who were wed on May 31 in Mason City’s Music Man Square, were the first same-gender couple to be issued a marriage license in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa on April 27, 2009. Gary, a radiologist, and Dean, a retired business executive, met while on a business trip in Chicago 6 ½ years earlier and soon thereafter, in 2003, Dean joined Gary in Iowa.
Rev. Rich (left) and partner Rohn exchange vows. Photo: Cathy Bolkcam
The couple celebrated a Holy Union Ceremony at First Presbyterian Church
In that May 3 ceremony, Church member Ruby Nancy officiated for Rev. Rich and Rohn, then Rev. Rich, in formal black clerical robe and with a silver cross on a cord of woven rainbow colors, officiated for the other couples. Church member Clayton Peterson provided the décor. “There were beautiful new white tablecloths on all of the tables in the social hall,” Rev. Rich says, “sterling silver flatware and special crystal glasses for toasting at the head table for the newly married couples.” He adds, “Friends and members shared a sumptuous potluck meal with more food than the Church had ever seen before!” A three-tiered wedding cake featured male and female same-gender symbols. A special CD of love songs was created for the occasion. “‘The Gift of Love’ was used as a song and a theme for the service,” Rev. Rich says. When asked about other music and entertainment he adds, “The joy and laughter of friendship and love shared in community…” This festive tone served as backdrop for the moving and momentous occasion.
Millie and Yvonne Of course, there are hundreds of samegender weddings planned across Iowa over the next few months, including September 2 nuptials for Millie Cowles and Yvonne Jones of Des Moines. Millie says this date was chosen to commemorate their Holy Union Ceremony of September 2, 1995. Millie, who works for the State of Iowa, and Yvonne, who works for a local insurance company, have been together for 19 years. They met in a nightclub, Connections, in Kansas City, Missouri, where Yvonne was living at the time, and while Millie was visiting friends. After being together for seven years, they celebrated their love with a Holy Union Ceremony before 75 guests. “We said our commitment vows at MCC Des Moines,” Millie says. “A friend of ours wrote poems for both of us to use.” Although they had a distinct theme for their Holy Union -black and white décor and attire- for which Millie donned a traditional tuxedo with maroon cummerbund, the couple is planning a more casual affair in September. “A simple, private ceremony,” Millie says, with Pastor Peg Esperanza of their Church officiating. They are also looking forward to a joyful post-nuptial celebration. “There are plans for a big party,” Millie says. “Friends, family and colleagues. At the Holy Union we had a ●● cont’d
Dean A. Genth (left) and partner Gary W. Swenson
in Mason City on November 27, 2004 with 200 guests, but this time when they donned their tuxedos, they wanted the day’s meaningfulness to extend beyond a wedding. “Our event was a day of Marriage Equality Celebration,” Dean explains. “We envisioned this being a teachable moment for the community in Iowa,” he says, “since same-sex marriage is such a new thing here in the state.” (Please see the details of Dean and Gary’s ceremony in the “Real Couples, Real Weddings” section of this magazine.)
Millie and partner Yvonne at their Holy Union reception in September, 1995.
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 41
barbeque, and probably will do something similar to this or we may rent a hall.” All wedding preparations are going smoothly for this couple, but with one big decision left to make. “Our biggest discussion,” Millie says, “has been over name changes!”
“I imagine someday our children and grandchildren will look back at this time and see us as part of a huge civil rights movement,” Carrie Visser says. “I will be forever grateful to the couples who took their case to the Iowa Supreme Court and won this victory for all of us.”
Liberties and Rights
On the day of his marriage, Rev. Rich Hendricks wrote, “Today, Sunday, May 3, 2009, was like the realization of a dream, and coming full circle as I was privileged to conduct legally-recognized samegender marriages for seven couples in a joint ceremony. Today was our time to take advantage of the equality extended by Iowa law and to celebrate our love together.”
Iowa’s motto, “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain,” has been upheld, and whether couples have already married since the legalization of samegender weddings in Iowa, or are planning their weddings, the sentiment concerning the new law is the same.
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But there is concern for other states and countries too. “We are so pleased to be a part of history,” Rev. Rich adds,” but we will not stop fighting for equality until people all over the world share equal rights.” Susan Hart Hellman is a freelance writer based in California. firstname.lastname@example.org
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 43
Same Love, Same Rights
... tours the nation!
Our 2009 Expo Calendar features events in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Seekonk MA, Hartford and Seattle. Plans are underway for upcoming events later this Fall and Winter in New Hampshire, Philadelphia and several additional locations. Always, our Same Love, Same Rights® Wedding Expos turn out to be a dynamic mix of celebrating the LGBT community as well as rallying for true Equality, all founded in the local flavor of the city in which they are held. To find out more, visit our Expo website online at: www.SameLoveSameRights.com.
Come Out & Join Us! We can’t wait to meet you!
2009-10 Event Calendar: ● NYC – March 21-22 ● Chicago – April 26 ● Detroit – May 2 ● Seekonk, MA – May 31 ● Hartford – July 26 ● Seattle – August 16 ● Manchester, NH – TBA ● NYC – TBA ● Philadelphia – TBA ● Hawaii – Spring 2010
(View all the exciting updates @ www.SameLoveSameRights.com)
Vol. 3 Issue 4 Winter 2008/2009 44
France, Discovering Belgium...
with a new perspective!
by Marianne Puechl co-founder & senior editor
and in hand with your partner… venture by train through
woodland forests and breathtaking overlooks to the heart of the French Alps, taking in a view of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe. Brave the gondola ride down into the glacier of Mer de Glace, where the ice is stunningly blue and an amazing exhibit of ice sculptures await you. Leisurely wander through the narrow medieval roadways of Bruges – Belgium’s quaint ‘Venice of the North.’ Surround yourself with the history of landmark stone buildings erected during the Renaissance and the simple wonder of the Flemish windmills at the outskirts of the village. Stroll along one of many picturesque canals, taking in views witnessed by travelers for centuries. Indulge in the art of dining, Europeanstyle, while enjoying leisurely conversation and sampling a variety of French cheeses after the main course and before dessert. Familiarize yourself with local wines, Belgian beers, breads and delectable hand-made chocolates... Escape!
These are the quaint and inviting excursions that come to mind for many gay & lesbian travelers, as they consider a trip to la
Canal in the village of Chanaz, along the Rhone River / France Photos provided courtesy: Jackie Grandchamps
Republique Francaise or to the countryside of Belgium. Yet imagine enjoying these moments not so much as a tourist, but as a visitor immersing him or herself for a week or two in the culture and activities of everyday locals. Imagine experiencing Europe as a native. This is the travel concept offered by Jackie Grandchamps, a Belgian scientist now living in the San Francisco area, who realized in 2003 that her love of travel was indeed her true passion. “Don’t be a tourist, be our guest,” is the tagline she chose for her business: French Escapade. “With every trip, the common point is that we’re looking to give an authentic travel experience to people,” Jackie explains. “I don’t like to say that I offer tours. –People get the idea they’ll be on a big bus, with scheduled activities. We don’t do that. We limit our
groups to eight people, many of them gay and oftentimes lesbian-only groups, and although I do have an itinerary and I do have a minivan,” she says jokingly, “...we’re able to provide flexibility and a truly unique experience where our guests actually meet locals and get a taste of the everyday culture, firsthand.” A highlight for many who travel with Jackie is the opportunity to visit with European residents in their own homes. “For example,” Jackie says, “during our trips we don’t tend to visit a lot of museums, but in Belgium one of the itineraries does include a visit to a museum dedicated to the Battle of the Bulge. Afterward we stroll through a nearby cemetery where many of the Americans are buried...” Several years ago, Jackie had a chance meeting with a woman in the area who ●● cont’d
Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 45
Vivats! Guests enjoy a traditional European dinner, based on the local cuisine.
Afternoons at the market are a highlight of any getaway!
Fields of Lavender in Provence, France. Photos provided courtesy: Jackie Grandchamps
was ten years old during WWII. She continues, “Because we’re such a small group, this woman is happy to invite us into her house. She makes coffee and such, and she tells us the story of how the Americans saved her life back during the war. Usually at the end of the trip, people say their favorite part was a moment like this.”
wild black bulls, raised for the Race Camarguaise. (In France, the bulls are not killed in the arenas!) “This farmer demonstrates how he herds the bulls with trained horses,” Jackie explains. “And he does not make money to tour people, he makes money racing bulls. So it’s very down-to-earth: my travelers always love the outhouse on his ranch!”
A similar opportunity takes place during one of the trips to France: In Provence, French Escapade travelers are welcomed into the home of a lesbian couple who recently bought a winery there just outside of town. Unlike a tour in Napa Valley, for instance, this experience brings travelers directly into the women’s living room and kitchen. “One of the women is French Canadian,” Jackie says, “and one is French. They truly enjoy meeting the guests. We go out into the vineyards and sample the grapes; we taste the wine. Everyone shares stories about themselves and we just get to know each other, so it’s a combination of enjoying the wine and also making friends. It’s more intimate.”
The quality of travel experiences is diverse and uncommon, to say the least. “It’s about the culture,” Jackie comments, “but mostly my trips are about meeting people. When we tour a castle, for example, we schedule a guide who meets us and talks about the basics... but they also tell stories about the castle and its history and its surroundings. They make it more lively, more real.”
A visit to Provence with French Escapade, however, also allows for many of the more traditional regional highlights: leisurely hours spent in the Provencal marketplace, an afternoon exploring the expansive lavender fields and the opportunity to savor the masterpieces in museums featuring Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Degas and many others. One day brings a visit to the famed Pont du Gard, the 2000-year-old bridge pictured on every Euro. The group learns the basic architectural details about how such a mighty structure could have been raised without mortar -in just five years- and how it has withstood the test of time. Yet another afternoon brings the adventure of a jeep safari in Camargue, where a local farmer invites the group onto his ranch to see rice fields and a herd of
Truly, her guests actively participate in the culture – through the food, through the wine, through the history, through nature, through the variety of rich experiences. Visiting France or Belgium with French Escapade is to see, hear, taste, touch and feel the destination firsthand.
A typical excursion with French Escapade begins with the arrival at your destination and a sumptuous welcoming reception. Accommodations are most often provided by small, luxury guesthouses or traditional inns, or sometimes by Jackie and her partner, Valerie, at their fully restored 19th-century French country home. Certain itineraries include home-cooked meals by Valerie, with regional menus prepared to correspond with the travel adventures of the day. “If we went to the south,” Jackie explains, “Valerie cooks a meal typical from that village or that region to enhance the guests’ experience. Food,” she smiles, “is a big part of the trip!” “A European dinner,” she goes on to
say,” is three to four courses and lasts about three hours, from 7-10 pm most nights. So we play games, we talk.” During trips to France, she and Valerie make sure that four different types of cheeses are served at each dinner, so their guests have the chance to sample an array of regional flavors. “There are more than 500 types of cheeses in France,” Jackie adds. “So after an eight-day trip, you’ve tasted at least thirty of them. And these are all cheeses you cannot get in the United States.” She teaches guests the proper way to slice the French cheeses; each night a different person slices for the group. Wine selections are offered to best complement the culinary experience. “Cheese,” Jackie adds, “is a big part of every dinner!” Trips with French Escapade range in cost from $2400-$3400 per person, and include accommodations, many and sometimes all of the breakfasts and dinners, activity fees and transportation throughout the 7-14 day excursion. The cost does not include airfare.
Many itineraries are centered around particular interests, such as regional destinations or writing, painting, cooking or golfing getaways. Artists and authors are booked in advance to offer workshops and ongoing assistance as travelers find themselves inspired at corner cafes or toting an easel and brushes along the footpaths of St Remy de Provence in the footsteps of Van Gogh. “Travelers pay a deposit Hanging houses in Pont-en-Royans, a 16th century medieval village. up front of $600,” Jackie Jackie Grandchamps says, “basically so I can count on the fact that they packet of helpful information: resources about are committed to the trip. I travel agents, insurance and currency exchange can then set up installments so that their entire and an overview of typical regional weather, fee is paid three months prior to departure.” what to consider bringing along, and an outline Once guests initially commit to a particular concerning the activities and accommodations. itinerary and travel date, Jackie sends along a
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Groups vary, in that sometimes an entire family may book a trip… or a few friends may vacation together and find themselves in a group with another couple and perhaps a single traveler as well. Oftentimes, Jackie finds that her niche is providing the single person or couple an opportunity to travel within a small group, thus enjoying the inherent benefits: lower costs, visiting Europe in the company of a guide familiar with the area and fluent with the language, seeing the sights within the security of a group that is intimate enough to offer flexibility but large enough to provide a sense of camaraderie. Recently Jackie booked a trip for a group of women who were all related but whose husbands were not interested in the adventure. “So eight of the women in the family -a grandmother, daughter, cousins- all got together to go to Europe,” Jackie recounts. “But generally we offer trips for women-only, gays and lesbians, gay men only and some that are available for everyone. 60-70% turn out to be women-only.” Many on the guest-list are returning clients, she says. When asked about the issues concerning gays and lesbians, as they travel through small villages and stroll through rural Europe, Jackie offers, “Belgium is a country where you can marry legally, so Belgium is very liberal. Except if you really go into the deep countryside, but they’re not homophobic. They just might think it is a little strange to see two women holding hands. In France, the metropolitan areas like Paris are quite liberal, of course, but we don’t tend to visit those areas; we focus on the countryside. But we really have never had any problems. Once, at a castle,” she recalls, “a guide there spent the morning with us and she asked why the group was mostly women… I told her it was a trip for lesbians and she happily suggested that we go to the nearby town for lunch and visit a particular restaurant – it was owned by two gay guys.”
The travel experience Jackie wishes to provide is not necessarily a visit to the tourist hotspots. As she emphasizes, her goal is to allow her guests to participate in the everyday culture as they explore the landscape and history. “Bruges,” she points out, “is a favorite with all the travelers. Not so much because it’s gay-friendly, but because it’s quaint and wonderful.” She adds, “Most of the time, as an American traveling abroad, you can go by yourself or with your family to Paris or to the other big cities. But traveling in the countryside becomes more complicated. That is the niche we offer at French Escapade.”
One of Jackie’s favorite travel moments took place unexpectedly, during a trip in which a lesbian couple happened to be celebrating their 25th anniversary. “We didn’t know about it prior,” Jackie explains, “and they saw this vintage car one day –a Deux Chevaux, which exists only in France. One of the women said, ‘Oh I love this car! It’s one of my dreams to drive one!’” Discovering it was the couple’s anniversary, Jackie and Valerie planned to make a cake and organize a sweet celebration, but then Valerie realized she knew someone who owned a Deux Chevaux. “So,” Jackie continues, “we borrowed the car and we decorated it with balloons and a sign that said ‘Deux Chevaux are for Lovers…’ The American women couldn’t drive in France of course, so Valerie drove them… Then all of our guests wanted a ride too, so everyone switched off, with my little minivan following along behind.” She smiles brightly, remembering, “Everyone who was on that trip even now (four years later) says that this was their best souvenir.” Since 2003, Jackie Grandchamps has been offering a multitude of travelers unique and joyful excursions through
The Village of Gordes, perched on a rocky hillside with an incredible view overlooking vineyards and the surrounding countryside. Mer de Glace, a glacier on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif, in the Alps. Virieu castle, built over eight centuries ago. Photos provided courtesy: Jackie Grandchamps
Delectable Sample Menus from rench scapade: Provence Day
Aperitif / Hors d’oeuvres:
Rose wine (Côtes de Provence) with tapenade toasts (olive and anchovy paste)
Goat cheese salad (mache) with honey (Picodon cheese from Provence and lavender honey) Ratatouille and garlic chicken (vegetable stew from Provence) Cheese board: 3 types of local goat cheese flavored with pepper, apricot and chives Fruit sherbet with raspberries (local fruit)
Red Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape (Côtes du Rhone) Rosé wine (Tavel) / Clairette de Die (Dessert wine)
French Alps Day Aperitif / Hors d’Oeuvres:
White wine from Savoy (Roussette) with small slices of Pâté en Croûte (pâté pie)
9-vegetable soup served with cream and chives Raclette: cheese melt over several types of meat and vegetables Baked apple with chestnut paste
Red wine from Savoy (Mondeuse) White from Savoy (Abymes)
Chalet-town of Chamonix, the biggest ski resort in the world. Photo provided courtesy: Jackie Grandchamps
French Escapade. For several years, she was certain her business would focus entirely on trips to France. Ultimately it was the travelers themselves who changed her mind. Recalls Jackie, “The guests would tell me that they loved their trip; it was like traveling with friends and not touring… They’d say, ‘But we want to come back with you and visit other countries.’” After several requests, she added trips to her native Belgium. And soon she plans to book a group for Italy, specifically Tuscany.
I’m going to hire a guide and I want to keep my returning clients happy, so I’m branching out. I will tell the local guide exactly what I want: cooking in Tuscany, not in a school but in someone’s home…”
“I’m reluctant,” she comments, “because I don’t speak Italian. But
2010 will also spotlight a trip to Senegal, an area to which Jackie has traveled ●● cont’d
Also now available are excursions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, where Jackie resides for six months during the year. Travelers may choose from a variety of trips, from customized visits to the National Parks or Napa Valley, to a behind-the-scenes adventure through the City by the Bay where the gay rights movement gained such momentum.
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her travel guests. “This will be a trip for womenonly. And we are going to meet Senegalese women – one day they are going to teach us African dances, one day we are going to cook with the locals. One day we are going to a school and we’ll meet teachers who are women... we’ll visit the market and buy supplies and take them back to the school... We will meet a panel of Senegal women sharing their life stories. It will be amazing.”
Annecy, France or ‘The Little Venice of the Alps’
herself many times over. “I love Africa,” she says. “And in Senegal they speak French. Also it is not like Kenya or Tanzania, where Americans commonly tour. Senegal is not a tourist-type country. So it remains authentic.” In keeping with her vision, Jackie chose the destination to provide a cultural experience for
Several years ago, a family of seven journeyed to Europe on a trip through French Escapade. As the holiday ended, they were saddened at the departure and told Jackie, ‘We came here as a family of seven, now we’ve become a family of nine.’ Leaving Jackie and Valerie behind left
Jackie Grandchamps, Ph.D. email@example.com (888) 483-5713, toll-free (510) 483-5713, local www.frenchescapade.com www.traveltofranceandmore.com
them particularly sorry to end the beautiful trip. This tender sentiment sums up the experience available to travelers who choose a vacation with Jackie Grandchamps, who stays in touch with her clients for months and often years after the trip is over. “Who I work with,” she says, “are people who want to discover a new culture. I offer the opportunity of an authentic experience, so that they will not be a tourist but a guest.”
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Elena & Liz – two years later... ●● cont’d from p.32
as a couple during the process?
My mom was so supportive – without her we wouldn’t have been able to do this. She took care of our older kids when I was put on bedrest. And everytime I went to the house to see them, she took pictures of my belly and of all of us together.
EQ: Everyone at my company has been so amazing. It is a small finance company and I’ve been there over ten years now. Back in 2007, twelve out of the fifteen employees came to our wedding. So they’ve always been great and really supportive. They held my job open when I had to take a leave for the pregnancy and my boss told me, ‘Don’t worry about your job at all; it’s waiting for you.’ They couldn’t wait for me to come back to work. And for the baby shower, my co-workers sent a check and gifts.
I actually lost my stepdad to lung cancer two weeks after we got pregnant the second time. It was so hard, because those last two weeks of his life he was in the hospital and I was not able to see him, because of the risk with the pregnancy. He was the only grandpa my kids have ever known; he actually attended our wedding against doctor’s orders (he had pneumonia at that time…) He’s been there for us all along. Losing him was so difficult. Liz Quinones (LQ): I just kept whispering to her, ‘Don’t get stressed, don’t get stressed.’ We didn’t want to lose this baby too. RWNM: As a couple you’ve been through so many unexpected challenges throughout the process of this conception. Your family has been through so much too. Our condolences. EQ: Thank you. RWNM: Would you mind sharing how the two of you decided to have Elena carry the baby? EQ: Again, I have biological kids while Liz doesn’t, and because of her occupation and her age (Liz is 43 and Elena is 31) it made sense for me to carry the baby. Our doctor actually said that if we’d wanted Liz to carry the baby after all, the only way for it to work would be for her to use my egg (because of the age issue.) And, I’m sure that it was harder for us to conceive -ultimately- because we did choose Liz’s egg. I was put on full bedrest at 11 weeks and I was still spotting at the beginning... Early on I thought I lost the baby but I actually lost part of the placenta. I had had a hematoma (bruise on the uterus) so that’s why I was put on bedrest. So at that time there was no way I could commute the 1 ½ hrs to our older kids’ school; that’s when Justine (13) and Patrick (10) went to stay with their grandmother. RWNM: Wow, this was such an intense journey for you and your entire family. How did your co-workers and supervisors handle everything? Were they supportive of you two
I was allowed 24 weeks of disability coverage and the rest was picked up by long-term disability. –That covered the last month of the pregnancy and eight weeks after the baby was born. All the guys Liz works with came to the shower and gave us gifts. Her chief came out and played with the baby since he’s been born… LQ: I am a police sergeant and I had just started my job three years ago. But with New Jersey’s Family Medical Act I was allowed up to twelve weeks unpaid leave to care for a loved one, and I did have to take some of that time. I was the one who shuttled Elena back and forth to doctor appointments, usually at least two appointments a week. It was a tough, long road. It seemed like every other day we had to go to the doctor for something. Elena developed gestational diabetes, so we were checking her blood at home five times a day there toward the end, and we had to go in for routine bloodwork too. But it was definitely all worth it in the long run. RWNM: Did you two encounter any awkward moments, being a lesbian couple? EQ: I was referred to a doctor from family, and he’s Spanish, which we wanted, and he’s been so great with
Elena & Liz – two years later... both of us. All our doctors and nurses and their staff have really been great. We really had very few issues, but there was one at the hospital. I was in for observation. The guard gave Liz such crap. LQ: Yeah, we’d taken Elena in and I had to go back to the car for something. The security guard gave me the third degree and wouldn’t let me back into the hospital, even though I told him that my wife was upstairs and pregnant and in pain. He’s asking me all these questions just because we were two females... Had I been in uniform or a man, he never would have even questioned it. EQ: He had seen her go up the day before, so why was he giving her crap? We later went to his boss and he got ripped – the supervisor was really great about the situation. RWNM: So, you made it through the first trimester and the second… How exciting! I know the due date was early March, and there
you were –you’d finally made it to February with everything proceeding along. What was the story of the baby’s birth? EQ: I had started bleeding once again at 36 weeks. I had actually started getting contractions at 28 weeks and I was on med/s to hold on to the pregnancy. We were in the hospital at least once a week at that point. Then when it happened again at 36 weeks, the doctor decided just to go ahead with a caesarean. LQ: The delivery was so graphic; it was hard. I was standing on a chair, taking photos from there. I was scared –well, more nervous than scared. We’d just been through so much with the conception and pregnancy… EQ: She was nervous too about holding him, but she did just fine. Liz was the first one to hold him. RWNM: And he was rather healthy, even though he was premature? What did you name him?!
EQ: He was healthy! And his name is Eli, from Liz’s full name ‘Elizabeth.’ We considered the middle name ‘James,’ after my brother who passed away, but my mom said she couldn’t handle that. So he is just simply Eli Quinones. RWNM: Congratulations, how wonderful!! I’m sure the family has been so very happy and busy with the new Little One. EQ: Yes, Justine and Patrick love being back home and having a new brother. They both want to feed him and take care of him. They take pictures to school and brag about him... The school’s been great about it too, very supportive. And my mom is all over Eli. And we’ve already taken a trip to Puerto Rico to introduce him to Liz’s mom, which was great. RWNM: What was it like filling out the birth certificate? Does New Jersey have the new documentation in place to accommodate samesex couples who have entered into a civil union and are having children? ●● cont’d
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Elena & Liz – two years later... EQ: They do have ‘parent’ and ‘parent’ on the final birth certificate. But on the application for the birth certificate, it said ‘mother’ and ‘father.’ The director of the hospital told us to cross out ‘father,’ which we did. So, on the final birth certificate which was mailed to us later, you can’t actually tell which one of us gave birth to Eli. But on June 19th Liz will formally adopt him. We decided to do this, because the birth certificate would hold up under New Jersey law but not in other states. LQ: Say I was driving Eli through another state and there was an emergency… I might not have the same rights as a (fully recognized) parent to take care of him. EQ: So we have to go for a second parent adoption. Liz had to go through everything like a regular adoption: luckily at her job they offer legal aid where we could pay $25/month and it happens to cover adoption. This ended up being a couple hundred dollars rather than $6K. RWNM: That brings me to my next question… Do you mind sharing a ballpark figure on just how much this pregnancy ultimately cost? EQ: Over $100,000 easily. Our insurance only covered the basics, like ultrasounds... No med/s like the follistim or the progesterone, which I needed to hold on to the pregnancy. RWNM: So now what? How is Eli doing? How is everyone adjusting? EQ: We’ve switched our work schedules so that we trade off time at home with Eli. My company allowed me to switch hours so I’m there now from 7:30-3:00 with a half hour lunch. Liz drives to Justine and Patrick’s school and brings the baby, so after work I pick up all the kids and take them home with me while Liz works second shift. The school is just five minutes from my office. Daycare is so expensive... $95/day for four hours. And I didn’t have the opportunity to stay home with my other two kids, so I feel blessed this time. And Justine and Patrick are a big help in the car. They switch and take turns in the back seat with Eli, feeding him during the long ride. LQ: Eli does have serious allergies, so he has to be fed often. It took us awhile to figure it all out, but he is allergic to dairy and soy and such. Even with special formula he has trouble, but
he’s getting better. EQ: The formula is from the pharmacy: it’s a liquid, and one can lasts about 2 days. Each can costs $60. RWNM: Oh my gosh, the bills just keep coming! EQ: Yeah, but it’s definitely been worth it. Eli is amazing and it’s great to see Liz with him. They look so much alike! LQ: Yeah, just watching him grow everyday – it’s a miracle, it really is. It’s a gift. RWNM: And do you have advice you’d offer other couples who are considering bringing a child into their lives? LQ: Don’t wait! -That’s my advice. I know a guy at work and he’s twenty-five years old and he and his wife just think because they are young they’re not going to have any problems… I tell him not to wait. You never know what’s going to happen or what it’s going to be like. That is my only regret. Elena actually wanted to become a surrogate mother for a gay couple, but at this point I think it’d be too much for her body. RWNM: Again, our Congratulations to you all! We know that Eli is an adored and cherished little boy. EQ: Words can not come close to describing the happiness that we feel in our hearts. We have become so much closer during the whole pregnancy. There were many times along the way that we didn’t think we were going to make it; as a matter of fact before we got pregnant, we had decided that this was going to be our last try. We were so drained, emotionally, physically and financially that we just couldn’t keep going. But our Faith and Love through it all kept us strong. We could not think of anyone else in the world that we would want to share this amazing, life-changing experience with than one another. ...And of our course our family at Rainbow Wedding Network Magazine! Thank you for giving us this opportunity once again. RWNM: Thank you! And again, All the Best to the entire Quinones Family!
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Published on Jul 14, 2010