Dog Mom Weds Love of Her Life

brides

1,049. There are exactly 1,049 reasons why I was legally married on June 12, 2014. After living with, loving with, and growing a life with my significant other since June 12, 1993, our bond of love was sealed in the eyes of the law last week, as this dog mom wed the love of her life.

I recall reading one of the very first published books on gay marriage, the aptly titled, Why You Should Give a Damn About Gay Marriage, by Davina Kotulski, Ph.D, in 2007. Based on the title, Kotulski, it can be said, wrote the book of love—with all of its legalities and government interference.

In her book, I learned that there are 1,049 federal rights awarded to straight people when they marry that are denied to gay and lesbian couples.

“If you believe in equality, justice, and fairness, then you believe in equality and justice for everyone, not just some citizens,” Kotulski told me when I interviewed her for Curve magazine in 2007.

gay marriage

Civil Union

In 1993, my partner and I wished to express our love and exchange vows. The law would not allow us to do so at the time, so we engaged in a “civil union.”

Do you know how unromantic it is to ask someone to “civil union” you? According to Merriam Webster a civil union is, “a legal relationship between two people of the same sex that gives them some of the same rights and responsibilities that married people have.”

Um, no, not in Pennsylvania, not then, and certainly not up until May 20, 2014. How many of these statements do you think are true as they apply to same-sex couples in the United States?

  • A gay couple pays extra to allow both to drive the car they rent on vacation, whereas a straight married couple pays for one driver and the spouse is included free;
  • Straight married people get cheaper rates on car insurance than gay and lesbian committed couples;
  • Gay and lesbian couples can still be discriminated against in housing and business in most of the US;
  • Even when gay and lesbian couples do receive “spousal benefits” equal to those of straight people they have to pay extra taxes on them (they are “imputed income”);

All of the above are true. If you live in a state where same sex marriage is not recognized, all of the above are true!!!

cocker
Dexter with me, his loving, married mom.

There’s a Catch

I can still be fired for being gay in the state of Pennsylvania because the Pennsylvania legislature will not bring the Non-Discrimination Act to a vote. Pennsylvania does not have enough bipartisan support.

I can be refused housing, too. I can walk into a public library and be told to leave because I am gay. Even with my marriage license in tow. I live in the only state in the northeast that allows marriage on a Sunday and firing on a Monday. It is called House Bill 300, and its companion bill is Senate Bill 300.

Since June 12, 2014, I am legally married in the state of Pennsylvania and I am working towards securing more of those 1,049 legal rights that straight married couples enjoy.

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Why Should You Give a Damn?

I’m a dog mom. I love dogs to the very core of my being. My heart beats dog so very much that I trademarked the slogan. It’s a really lousy feeling to live in a visible closet. Re-read that sentence: I didn’t say an invisible closet, but a visible one.

My wife is a dog mom. She was a teacher, a principal, a teacher in space candidate, and seeing her live in a visible closet for 21 years is a pretty lousy realization.

For those of you married folks reading this, if you could go back to the day you said “yes” to your now spouse, and perhaps do it all over again….would you? How many people would say “yes,” I will marry you again, all these years later because I am so madly, deeply in love with you that life without you is not living at all.

After 21 years together as a couple, I was asked if I would marry my significant other finally, for real, legally, and I said YES! I am even more in love with her today than I was all those years ago when she swept me off my feet….and once again on June 12, 2014, she soared from the skies and did it again.

Do you love romantic stories of proposals and two people truly in love? Read on. Oh, and yes, there’s a dog involved.

Dar is a loving mom to our pup.
Dar is a loving mom to our pup.

Love is In the Air

I’ve always wanted a “sweep me off my feet” wedding romance story to bestow itself upon my doorstep. I never thought I’d live long enough to have my relationship legally recognized.

If you want the back story, I formally “came out” for a variety of reasons, but mainly to live truer to myself, my readers, and as a human being in general. You can read my coming out story here.

Our dog, Dexter, was scheduled to have ACL (leg)  surgery on Friday, June 13, 2014. So when Darlene informed me that she scheduled a “photo shoot” for us to start a memory book, it struck me as odd. I say odd because she had the date of the shoot for the night before Dexter’s surgery. Granted, June 12th is our anniversary date as a couple, and why of all times did she want to start a photo memory book?

“I want to preserve the year of planning for our big wedding in 2015,” she mused.

Okie dokie. I’ll go along with it.

“Um, what should I wear, honey, and um, oh you realize the dog is limping, right?”

“Something business casual and yes, but he will be okay, I will make sure,” she reassured me.

What's that, a bird, a plane, wait it's.....
What’s that, a bird, a plane, wait it’s…..

Flying High and Standing Low

So there we stood, my life partner (ack, hate that but that’s what the law dubbed us at the time), me, and our limping dog, in the middle of a park. A park located near a small airport where folks go to learn how to fly small planes. We like going there and we have walked our past and present dogs at this field. We love watching the small planes take off, learning, following them along, and one day knowing they got better and are soaring along.

I even named one of the planes “Flips” because whenever the pilot sees us, he grandstands and does these fancy sky maneuvers involving, well, flips.

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So as the clouds rolled in and the weather app threatened lightning, I asked where and when the photographer would be located.

And then I saw Flips.

And my heart skipped a beat.

Flips took to the sky and these 7 foot tall letters tagged along:

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It is revealed that I said “oh my god” at least 50 times in the first five minutes of this sky proposal, and then I felt a sense of shock, disbelief, and eventually the most calming feeling I have experienced in my entire life. I sat under the pavilion with my almost wife, my limping dog, and two of our friends who were “in on the secret” and watched the reality of my life unfold.

I am blessed, I thought. This is how love goes. True, romantic, real, passionate, consenting adults expressing their love together: this is how love goes. It is amazing the sense of peace that came over me. And that peace has remained with me ever since.

So after the plane ride, our friends snapping pictures, and my sense of peace remaining, a limousine pulls up. Yep, the woman has class and is oh so romantic. See?

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Our friends handled taking the cars home while the limo followed behind. Together, the five of us sauntered into the limo and I kept shaking my head. There was, of course, time for a group selfie or two.

Yes I was beside myself.
Yes I was beside myself.

Then came the flowers with this note attached:

note

If I wasn’t a puddle of goo by then, I was now.

Just a girl being swept off her feet
Just a girl being swept off her feet

The limo ride didn’t last long, as we pulled up to a lovely house about 10 minutes from our residence. A group of women and kids gathered on a porch across the street and waved to us. Um okayyyyy. I have no clue at this point.

A lovely minister stood at the back of the house, as the five of us walked around to meet her. Flips asked, I said yes, and so Darlene wasted no time in making magic happen.

Here we are in the midst of our vows. It was short, romantic, sweet, and tear inducing. I felt like someone took all of my breath away, from my lungs, and like the words were somehow floating on air. Yes, I was saying them, but I felt as if I stepped away from myself and was watching the whole experience as someone else. Like I was living a movie….in real time, in real life.

We already exchanged vows in our civil union all those years ago; why, over two decades ago. So the diamond ring was sealed with a diamond band.

vows

On the way out to the limo after the vows and photos, the women and kids on the porch across the street stood for us and clapped and wished us well. It started to rain, which was called for all day. Yet it held off until that moment when everything was complete.

“The rain,” one of the smiling, clapping ladies across the street yelled over, “It’s God’s blessing!”

I joined in with some tears falling. We rode around in the limousine for almost two hours, toasting, celebrating, exhaling, and sharing what I thought I’d go to my grave and never be able to see: A marriage license with our names on it.

Since our dog faced surgery in the morning and rain was in the air, I am told plans were slightly altered. The limo pulled up in front of a local fancy restaurant and my wife exited with our friends. They returned with what turned out to be a gourmet meal of lobster and more.

Yes, I was and still remain, speechless in sharing this tale of love.

So next year we will do a bigger, more formal dream wedding with our friends and loved ones. Yes, it will be totally pet friendly and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But for now, I am proof that dreams can come true, at least for over 1,000 rights. I dream and advocate for total equality and the banishing of discrimination for consenting adults who are same in sex and same in their love for each other.

What does this have to do with dogs and sharing life with a dog? There is a very large contingency of LGBT dog moms and dads in this world who share their lives with a dog(s). I happen to be one of them. For 21 years, I’ve kept quiet about me and some of the most fantastic things that have happened in my life. If I am to be true to the “reality” in this blog’s title, there you have it: Tale as old as time with a modern twist.

Exhaling feels pretty damn good these days.

Comments

  1. I saw all your Facebook photos, but it is so wonderful to read your story here! May you and Darlene have at least another 21 years ahead of you as wife and wife! Congratulations to you both! xx

  2. Carol- you are one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. Congrats to you and your wife…wishing you many more happy years together!! Jill Gainer

  3. I can’t stop crying this was so romantice and beautiful I am beyond words and so thrilled for all 3 of you…DAR you ROCK in the romance department hell makes me want to be gay (LOL). Carol you are one lucky lady but you already know that. I love you both and thanks for sharing this warm and beautiful story <3

  4. OMD!!!! Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you and Darlene. Thank you so much for sharing your wedding story with all of us. It gave me goosebumps. When I meet you and Darlene I knew you both were very special people. Carol you have an awesome wife! Dexter has 2 very awesome moms! So when I read your wedding story it reminded me of this quote by Oprah… “The BIGGEST Adventure You Take Is To Live The Life Of Your Dreams” Carol, Darlene and Dexter you are Living The Life Of Your Dreams!

  5. Congratulations to you both on your monumental love and reality of equality!! What a heartwarming story. Thank you for sharing your love for your wife and your animals.

    Wishing you both the best marriage can offer…and I promise…death will never due you part xo

    Katie

  6. What a sweet story! June 12 was once my wedding date/anniversary, too. Congratulations and best wishes for the next 20+ years – and beyond.

  7. What a lovely story. 🙂 I am very proud of you both. Keep living free.
    Congratulations and may you enjoy your big day next year.

  8. I have tears streaming down my face! What a beautiful story and I am so happy for you!

    You are both so blessed to have found each other. Best wishes for many, many more years of happiness to come!

    • I keep crying every time I think about a week ago today. Thanks for your kind words and friendship, Christina

  9. I am so incredibly happy for you, Darlene, and Dexter! Congratulations! This story sounds just like a movie, and induced me to tears of happiness for you all. This is so wonderful and like you said, all people should be given the same rights and treated equally no matter if they are straight, bi, or gay. I honestly don’t understand what the big deal is or the discrimination. I have friends who are straight, bi, and gay. But it’s not my right to judge, condemn, or treat them differently because of that. They are wonderful people, and that’s all that really matters. Congrats again from all of us to you! >^.^<
    ~Tiffany, Bella, Terra, & Kronos

  10. Carol,

    I was tearing up reading this. What a special day! Wishing you and Darlene so much happiness.
    You are right on that dog parents no matter what their sexual preference, religion, race, culture etc. should all be free to be themselves.

  11. Well, there goes my eye makeup for the day! I am over the moon happy for your and Darlene. This is the best story EVER!!! I’m so glad you made the decision to share this part of your life with your readers. You are an awesome person and deserve every ounce of happiness! Darlene is amazing and the two of you symbolize true love! How cool that Dex was part of your special day too!

    • Uh oh sorry about that – you always look so pretty – just wipe the mascara lol – ty my friend <3

  12. What a beautiful and wonderful story. I am so very happy for you both. There are still so many laws that keep us from all truly being free. It is nice to see one less in your state. Your proposal and wedding was so romantic. I had a huge lump in my throat throughout your post. Congratulations and best wishes for a very happily ever after. XXOO

    • Yes, there are laws that need to go- they are there under religious pretense and we cannot run a government with a Bible. Thanks a lot.

  13. WOW, what a proposal of love! I enjoyed reading this (more than once). Darlene didn’t miss a thing! What an incredible memory you have of this special day. Here’s to the next 50 years for the both of you!!!! As a side note, this love is a true example for all human beings whether they be gay or straight!

  14. What an amazing proposal! My heartfelt congratulations on your marriage and wishing you all the best in the years ahead. Hopefully soon people will be less interested in who someone loves and more interested in being loving.

  15. I love it! Darlene can give lessons to a few of the hubby’s out here. Flowers?? Limo?? Seriously, congratulations (again) to the 3 of you!!

  16. Soooooo incredibly happy for you both!! Your love for Dar just leaps off of the page……your excitement, devotion, love, determination……sheer, blissful joy, it’s ALL there! How many of us wish that we could say the same after ALL of those years? Here’s to another 100 together!! Bring on 2015! xoxo

  17. I’m so happy for you Carol. It’s bittersweet as in Australia we are so far behind still and my partner and I cannot legally wed.

    You and Darl are perfect for each other and what a gorgeous wedding it was 🙂

  18. Garth’s momma here. This brought tears to my eyes. I can’t tell you how happy I am for you two (and Dexter of course) that you can see your names on a marriage license. I love the proposal and LOVE the surprise wedding!
    Rebecca

  19. What a wonderful proposal and intimate service. This is such a romantic story and I am so happy for you and your wife … Congratulations!
    I wish you much success in getting all 1,049 rights that have been denied to the two of you for all these years. You have been blessed with love and no one can deny or ever take that away.
    Again, Congrats and best wishes for a lifetime of happiness.

  20. Oh my gosh! This post was so full of romance and love! I am almost in tears. How lucky to have found your perfect partner that views your love as so valuable. You must feel special everyday. I am so happy for you. Give the Dexter an extra big hug for keeping the wedding plans secret! 😉

  21. Even though I knew the whole story, it made me laugh and cry with happiness for a wonderful couple.

    We (Mike, Buster, Jack & I) love you both and Dex dearly.❤️❤️

  22. Wishing you Carol, Darlene and Dexter too, at long last…your happily ever after!
    Paws crossed for much love & happiness to continue, and good health!

    Reading your story, my computer is dripping with happy tears!

  23. Carol I want you to know how truly happy I am for you! I confess this wasn’t always so as I was not for gay marriage for a long time. Until a gay professor at college talked about all of the predjudices that gay couples endure, like her child and her partner had to have a legal document to travel together. Once I realized it was discrimination case closed. Congratulations!

    • Dolly that takes a lot of guts on your part to come forward and say this. Thank you for opening yourself up and saying how you saw the light and why. Wags!

  24. We are so glad you linked to this article in the Pet Blogger Challenge! What a beautiful love story and an amazing way to celebrate your family <3 It's silly to think of it any other way, but Im glad that Dex was there with you. Having Harley at our wedding is something that I will always cherish. Even though its several months late, congratulations, I know the journey was long!

  25. I don’t know how many times I have read this story….and cry every time. I am so happy for you and Dar. Hoping to make a trip out this summer. WHAT A GREAT STORY!!!

    • What an honor to have you stop by, Davina. You are such a role model and really helped get equality and gay marriage in front of the eyes, hearts, and minds of so many. I have recommended and cited your fabulous book so many times, I’ve lost count. Thank you for being a pioneer!

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