By KJ Philp, August 2015 Issue.
Most relationships begin with a series of dates, and, in some respects, this relationship is no different.
The first date – no, not dinner and a movie – was June 26, 2013, the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled California’s Proposition 8 was unconstitutional.
On the same date, the Supreme Court also ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.
On the second date, this one came home with us. Well, actually U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick ruled against Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, Oct. 17, 2014.
Then, in a landmark decision June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the person they love.
There’s one more date in the timeline of Javier and Josh Klein – Aug. 23, 2013 – the day they were married in Palm Springs, Calif. This was the date that made all the other dates noteworthy for these two grooms.
“We wanted to get married quickly before the right to do so was taken away again,” Javier said. “I am glad we made the decision to go for it and not let any fears, or what other may think, stop us.”
Although Javier (also known as Grecia Montes D’Occa) always pictured a big, traditional wedding, he admits he also pictured Grecia walking down the aisle wearing beautiful gown and with a cast of bridesmaids. Josh, on the other hand, said no, adding that he was marrying Javier – not Grecia.
Instead, the two grooms – and two friends who served as witnesses and photographers – went to the Riverside County Clerk’s office and exchanged their vows, went to lunch and then drove back home to Phoenix as newlyweds.
“We basically eloped,” Josh said. “When Prop. 8 was overturned we were so worried that it would become illegal again, so there was very little planning involved … I never thought of waiting, I wanted us to take the opportunity as soon as it became available.”
While full marriage equality seemed so far away just two years ago, the couple felt the momentum.
“I knew that if we were married in a state that allowed it and the nation recognized it, that it would only be a matter of time before [it] would be legal [in Arizona],” Josh said.
Then that date came, too.
“It was a shock when [same-sex marriage became] legal in Arizona,” he said. “We finally felt validated, like we were not second class citizens in our own state.”
The couple celebrated the victory in the state they call home, and watched as history unfolded around them. Their celebration continued as the most important date of them all took place less than eight months later.
“I was sleeping when [Josh] woke me to tell of the Supreme Court’s decision. I just felt joy and happiness [knowing] that I was a legally married, just like everyone else,” Javier said. “I am glad the legal system worked. We were finally given what we we’re entitled to.”
The couple, still technically newlyweds, didn’t attend any parties, rallies, or pride festivities that weekend. Instead, they stayed in and celebrated the victory at home – together.
“… Once it became legal nationwide I felt a sense of pride. It’s something I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” Josh said. “We are a married couple that gets all of the same rights as every other couple and … we are protected … We are husbands and now no one can deny us that.”
The grooms agree that both families have been supportive, each welcoming the other in with open arms, which is a big part of why these two are still not done celebrating.
“We keep saying we are going to do a reception on our anniversary, Javier said. “Now that it is legal in all states I think we will … finally have that reception we have talked about for so long.”
And maybe this time Javier will get his wedding gown. Or maybe just that honeymoon the couple still hopes to take. In any case, these grooms stand in agreement that it’s not the wedding date that makes a marriage; it’s all the dates that follow it.
“Learn to know each other,” Javier said. “Part of a successful marriage is to get to know each other a little bit every day … [it] doesn’t matter how different we are, we both want the same thing and that is to be together.”