As most readers of this blog and most regulars at our store know, Stephen Frank is actually two separate people: Stephen Jacobs & Frank Schaffer. With today's ruling from the Supreme Court recognizing the right of all couples to be married we wanted to share our story.
It all started in September of 1981 in a small West Hollywood nightclub, The Rose Tattoo. The Rose Tattoo was a wonderful restaurant and piano bar in the lowest level of the Studio One complex. The piano bar happened to be a favorite hangout of both of us and then that one fateful night it became the meeting place that would change our lives. A drink or two and our history began.
The following morning, what could have been a casual Sunday Brunch, turned into an over 3 hour conversation that touched on everything in our lives and deep into our souls. Despite a rather large age difference (17 years) we knew we were meant to be together.
The years moved on. We set up house together. We had pets. We made friends. We traveled the world. Again and again. We moved here and there and back again. We bought property together. We invested our money together. We cared for each other when we were sick. We committed our lives to each other. The companies we worked for recognized our partnership and provided spousal benefits. We wore rings to signify our union. Everyone we knew, knew of us only as a couple. For all practical purposes we were married.
Then something changed. June 16, 2008 the State of California started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. We talked about marriage then but didn't really see the need. We had made all necessary provisions in our life to protect each other financially. After nearly 27 years (!) did we really need a piece of paper from the state to validate our partnership? But just as quickly as marriage equality came, so did a scary ballot proposition that would deny the right to marry, not only to us, but our friends, associates, and a significant part of the population.
The day before election day 2008 we were driving home from lunch with friends. We looked at each other and at the same time said, "Let's do it." So we headed to the Laguna Hills Civic Center, the nearest marriage office in Orange County. If we passed up the right that had been granted us then we had no excuse to protest if that same right was taken away. So there we were in shorts and tee shirts filling out the forms. We gave the clerk our check, he grabbed a robe, and we proceeded to a (beautiful) chamber where he was to perform the ceremony. When asked if we had rings, we took off the rings we had always worn and handed them to the clerk. At this point, it's too hard to put into writing the emotions that took over. Here we were in front of total stranger, laying bare our lifelong commitment to each other. The tears didn't stop. Even writing this today, nearly seven years from that moment and nearly 34 years from our first meeting, the emotions are still there. And the joy and the love.
We're grateful to the Supreme Court today for recognizing the validity of marriage for all.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest
ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a
marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.
As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies
a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these
men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is
that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find
its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to
live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest
institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The
Constitution grants them that right. - Justice Anthony Kennedy
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