The recent Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act was seen as a great victory for marriage equality and gay rights, but plenty of same-sex couples are still living in states that refuse to acknowledge their union.
Josh and John Danso of Warren, Ohio were recently wed in New York state, a logistical necessity because gay marriage is constitutionally banned in Ohio. “We had to travel to Ellery, New York to apply for our marriage license. There is a 24 hour waiting period in the state of New York to get married, so we had to make a separate trip prior to the day of our marriage,” John said. Ellery, N.Y. is a two hour drive from their home in Ohio.
Josh and John were forced to plan a destination wedding, with added expense and inconvenience. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many same-sex couples across the country. John explained, “It was what we had to do in order for our marriage to be recognized officially in order for us to receive the few benefits that we are afforded. It does put into perspective how much discrimination there is yet. Luckily, we were able to afford the logistical barrier whereas many others are not. We made the best of an unfair reality.”
Josh’s mother became ill a week before the wedding, but fortunately was able to attend. Still, the two-hour drive was difficult.
Some couples choose to have a destination wedding. Josh and John would have preferred to stay home. “Had our state allowed marriage for everyone, we would have gotten married close to home,” John said.
Like many couples, the Dansos did the planning themselves. They scoured Pinterest for wedding ideas, made their own decorations, and enlisted friends and family to help them. A budget-friendly cookout complemented their picnic theme. For the outdoor ceremony, the grooms wore coordinating gingham bowties, khaki vests, and Converse All-Stars. The photography, food preparation, and officiating were all done by close family friends.
Josh and John had a positive wedding planning experience, but they were always prepared for the worst. John said, “We were not treated differently by anyone. However we were still on the defense, preparing for discrimination.”
Despite the extra hassle of getting married in another state and the fear of facing bigotry as a gay couple, the Dansos are happy with their wedding. Fortunately, their loved ones were all able to make the trip, and they overcame the problems of remote wedding planning. Still, in a fair world, Josh and John would have been able to plan the wedding they truly wanted.
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