Michigan Couples Reflect During Two-Year Anniversary of Marriage Equality

By |2017-06-29T09:00:00-04:00June 29th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Candice and Renee Coschino of Clinton Township

While there is much to celebrate about being LGBTQ, recent Supreme Court actions show that the fight for LGBTQ legal equality is not over. Evan Wolfson, founder of the Freedom to Marry said the magnitude of the transformation and triumph reflected in our winning marriage nationwide here in the U.S. continues to reverberate and grow across the country and around the world. He points out that polling shows that public support continues to grow.
“We are at near-majority support now even among Republicans, more than a million gay people have married in the U.S., and the marriage conversation continues to increase empathy, visibility, and allies that we can harness to other battles still ahead for gay and transgender people – the gift that keeps on giving,” he said. “And the momentum we have built continues to contribute to other work and victories in other countries – as shown, for example, in the important freedom to marry ruling from Taiwan’s high court, our first beachhead in Asia.”
But with the Trump/Pence regime and its enablers in Congress, Wolfson said the country is on the wrong track and there is much to do, both defensive and affirmative.
“So many overlapping communities and values are under assault – immigrants, women, people of color, Muslims, the poor and ill, and, of course, gay and transgender people – not to mention America’s standing in the world, the environment, liberal democracy, and even our national security when under attack by hostile foreign powers aiming to subvert our democracy and election,” he said.
“I am proud that our movement is standing in solidarity with those defending our Republic and resisting the corrupt and abusive agenda a minority disproportionately empowered is now driving. While part of the pushback against these existential assaults and the necessary work to reclaim political power and get the country back on track, we must also defeat anti-gay and anti-trans attacks and make our affirmative case, building on the progress we’ve made, including the marriage lift.”
To continue making progress LGBTQ couples understand the importance of remaining visible and sharing their stories about love and family. Two years after the historical Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Michigan couples reflect on what marriage equality means to them.

Candice and Renee Coschino

Candice and Renee Coschino of Clinton Township have been together for six and a half years. Candice proposed to Renee on Valentine’s Day in the Renaissance Center in Detroit after four years of dating.
They were married on July 10, 2015, shortly after it became legal to do so.
“We didn’t want to wait because we were worried that it would be taken away from us again so we did a quickie wedding in our backyard,” said Renee. “We both cried and celebrated and were just incredibly happy that we could finally have the same rights as everyone else.”
However, the couple still wanted to do a big formal wedding so they took the next year to plan their perfect day and got married again on August 26, 2016 at Fox Hills Golf Course in Plymouth.
After their first wedding, the couple worried about crossing T’s and dotting I’s to make sure that no one could take those decisions away from them about their children, their home and their financial affairs.
“So we did the responsible thing and filed POA’s and Medical Directives to secure those rights for each other. Unfortunately, that took all of the romance away because it seemed so much more transactional than anything else,” said Renee. “Marriage equality, to us, means that we don’t have to wonder ‘what if’ and we don’t have to worry about what happens next. We know, now, that we can take care of each other with no question or judgement because we can. Finally, it goes beyond the transactional and really means something.”

Scott Sauter and Domenick Viviano

For Scott Sauter and Domenick Viviano of Ann Arbor, marriage equality means they are no longer second class citizens.
“It means putting that civil union nonsense to rest. It’s about having the same right to a beautiful marriage or a painful divorce,” said Domenick, who married Scott on April 23, 2017, the couple’s eight-year anniversary together.
Scott proposed to Domenick at a Garbage concert (his favorite band) at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit in 2013.
Finally, after marriage equality and months of planning, the couple ended up getting hitched at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas.
“The right to marry did not affect our relationship, but it prolonged our engagement during the first year,” said Domenick. “We blame years two, three and four on disagreements over the setlist.”

Crystal and Heather McBride
Crystal and Heather McBride of Wyandotte met almost 15 years ago in Toledo, Ohio through a mutual friend.
“We hit it off from the first meeting and have been inseparable ever since,” said Heather. The couple got engaged on December 23, 2013.
“I said yes without hesitation never really knowing if we would truly have the opportunity to wed,” she said, adding that it was important for them to show their two adopted children what true love, commitment and dedication is.
Crystal and Heather were married on the beach on August 10, 2015 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. They had a reception back home with family and friends.
Heather acknowledged that for some people, marriage is no big deal. “It’s a piece of paper and to other’s a binding legal contract. I must admit, for a long time I described marriage in the same context – either to accept that marriage was not an option or to express how my family could “legally” be accepted and awarded the same privileges of other families,” she said. “But having experienced the marriage ceremony, holding a marriage license and having my wife take my surname as hers has changed my views in so many ways.”

About the Author:

Kate Opalewski
Kate Opalewski is BTL's features editor and has been since 2015. She has covered a variety of topics ranging from art, politics and community outreach. Recently, she was honored by the Detroit Police Department LGBT Advisory Board for her work for the local LGBTQIA community.