Local gay couple first to apply for marriage license in Wayne County

By |2004-03-11T09:00:00-05:00March 11th, 2004|Uncategorized|

DETROIT – At the demonstration for marriage equality for gays and lesbians last week, Darryl Lawson and Kevin Love were first in line as a throng of six couples filed into the county clerk’s office inside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Moments later, after producing the requisite photo identifications and birth certificates, they were politely declined a marriage license, then heralded by Jeffrey Montgomery of the Triangle Foundation as being the first same-sex couple in the city of Detroit to actually apply for one. But there was a time when the couple was not so sure their relationship would succeed.
Lawson, 40, and Love, 26, met four years ago through a mutual friend. But soon they found that outside influences were not helping the romance flourish. To give their fledgling relationship an earnest chance, the couple decided their only option was to move out of town.
“We left to solidify our relationship,” said Love, who recalled that so-called friends “were actually putting bets on us. ‘Well, I’ll give them three months. I’ll give them six months. I’ll give them a month.’ It was a very, very strange time in our relationship. It was 22-year-old Kevin being fickle and finite, not knowing what he wanted.”
Still, he knew enough to know that he had found something special in Lawson, and so the two escaped to Nashville for three years.
“He needed to get away, that was the first focus,” explained Lawson. “In order for us to get together, to actually keep this relationship going, he had to go, because it was not going to work if we stayed here, that I knew for a fact.”
Detroit was always home, though, and seven months ago the couple decided they were ready to return to it, complete with engagement rings on their left hands. Today, Lawson works as an accountant in the city, and Love attends Wayne State University full-time, where he studies marketing.
“I’ve been pushing this marriage thing,” said Lawson. “I just feel that it takes it to another level. It’s different. You can live together, you can do all these different things, you can play house, but the bottom line is that ceremony takes you to another level.”
Lawson should know. He was married to a woman for seven years, something he says would never had happened if anyone had shown him that marriage was possible with a man.
“I didn’t think that I could have those same dynamics in a male-male relationship,” Lawson said. “I just didn’t think it was possible. I’m going to be very honest. I didn’t think that I could share and have that whole experience with a man. And now I know for a fact that I can. We have it now. And that’s probably why I want to take it to that level, because I want to solidify it. Part of it, as I always tell him, part of it is getting in front of your peers and letting them see and acknowledge what you two are all about. That to me is the key. And I think that as gay men we don’t see it, because we’re not ever taught it can happen. That’s why you have so many gay men who can’t keep a relationship. If we were raised to say that, ‘You know what, they can have a relationship just like that person did,’ we wouldn’t be hopping out of relationships. I don’t think it’s portrayed [in the media] that we can have that type of commitment, that high a commitment.”
Now that Lawson and Love know it’s possible, they want it. And they’re willing to fight for it. Love heard about the Wednesday afternoon rally through Johnny Jenkins of Detroit Black Gay Pride, and it didn’t take much convincing to get Lawson on board.
“I told him, ‘We might as well go ahead and do this because if we don’t, then I’m going to feel like I’m part of the problem,'” said Love. “I said, ‘We just need to go out there and do this because if we sit back here and say that we want these things but we don’t do anything about it, it’s just meaningless.”
And Love feels his relationship with Lawson is far too meaningful to let that happen.
“The best thing about my relationship with him, and he knows I tell him this time and time again, is because I feel that he makes me a better man every day,” said Love. “And I don’t know, because he does that, it just makes me love him even harder.”
Lawson says it’s Love’s ability to lighten his spirits that makes him so special.
“He makes me laugh, and I’m not saying that as a bad thing, that he entertains me,” he said. “My mother was the type of person who believed that you’ll stay young as long as you feel young, and I swear, he keeps me at that level where I’m cracking up. He just keeps me moving.”
But as with any real relationship, it hasn’t all been fun and games.
“We have been through some ups and some downs, which is another reason why I love him so much, because he has been there,” said Love. “And I know that I’ve been there for him. We’ve been through some hard times and that just makes the relationship even stronger.”
Love says he sure that if the counter-protesters at Wednesday’s rally could catch a glimpse at his home life with Lawson, they’d see how similar his relationship is to their marriages.
“We’re just as normal as they are,” he said. “We go through the same ups and downs, we argue, we make up, we cook every day. We pay our taxes, we go to work. We do everything just as normal as they do.”
Lawson agreed. “There’s nothing any different,” he said. “That’s why I say I don’t know what the issue is.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.