This undated photo released by Feuza Reis Photography shows Staci Dennett and her fiance Nadir Karim, both 25, in Philadelphia. They are among a number of heterosexual couples who vowed not to marry until gay couples had the same rights. They set a wedding date for this fall after the U.S. Supreme Court wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law in June. (AP Photo/Feuza Reis Photography)
by Beth J. Harpaz
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — No, it wasn’t just an excuse to avoid getting hitched: Some heterosexual couples who postponed their weddings until gay couples had the right to marry are now making plans to say “I do.”
And we’re not talking celebrities like Brangelina, Lena Dunham and Kristen Bell, all of whom vowed not to marry until gay marriage was legal. None of them have rushed to announce wedding dates. Instead, it’s ordinary folks who wasted no time following through on their pledges. Here are a few of their stories.
I’M NOT GETTING MARRIED UNTIL EVERYONE CAN’
Staci Dennett, 25, is White. Her fiance, Nadir Karim, 25, is Black. “Forty-six years ago, we couldn’t have gotten married in the South, just because of our skin color,” said Dennett, who compares the ban on interracial marriage to laws against gay marriage. “It blows my mind!”
Dennett says she agreed with Angelina Jolie’s stand, and told Karim the same thing: “I’m not going to get married until everyone can.”
She also kept thinking about a gay cousin who’s in a relationship and just had twins. “Any time I thought about inviting them to my wedding, and asking them to be part of something where they have no ability to have any of these rights, it just didn’t sit well with me,” Dennett said.
Then in June, the U.S. Supreme Court wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law, and Dennett and Karim, who’ve been together five years, started planning their big day. They live in Philadelphia, where they run an online travel business called BeyondTheDiploma.com, but the celebration will be in Dennett’s hometown, Winfield, Kan., on Nov. 12 (11-12-13) which happens to be her birthday.
The 35 invited guests include Dennett’s gay cousin and her partner.
‘A MORAL OBJECTION’
Debbie Ma, 32, is a social psychology professor at California State University-Northridge who studies stereotyping and prejudice. She didn’t set a wedding date with her partner of 10 years, Peter Tassinario, 41, a consultant, until after the court ruling.
“I had moral objections to being part of something that makes part of our population feel like they’re not full citizens,” explained Ma, who lives in the San Fernando Valley. “For me, it feels very inconsistent to study things like discrimination and prejudice and then participate in a system that is actively discriminatory. There is a lot of research out there on institutional racism and how bigger structures like government structures or policies or cultural ideology seeps down into individual lives.”
How did her fiance feel about putting off marriage? “He’s a man! He was fine not to have a wedding,” Ma said with a laugh, adding in a serious tone that he was “very supportive” about her reasons, but is happy they finally set a date for November.
Ma had told her students about her concerns, and was pleased when one of them said the first thing he thought about after the court ruling was, “I wonder if Debbie is going to get married.”
Ma and Tassinario expect their officiant to “say a couple of things about our views on equality and stay away from traditional wedding vows.” But the ceremony should also express why any couple marries, gay or straight: “Two people who come together because they love each other — and that’s it.”
‘I HAD SEEN THEIR FIGHT’
Dan McCrory and Terry Haley have been together for 11 years. They live in West Hollywood, where McCrory is a board member of the Stonewall Democratic Club, a progressive political group with a focus on issues of importance to the gay community.
“Because of my longtime involvement in the club, a lot of these people are my friends,” said McCrory, a writer who works for an insurance company. “I didn’t feel right getting married if my friends couldn’t. I had seen their fight, had seen how much this issue meant to them.”
He says Haley, who works for a phone company, “teased me about it,” jokingly wondering if it was an excuse to avoid commitment. “But I think she knew it was because I wanted to do the right thing.”
Haley was thrilled when an old friend and her partner were the first couple to tie the knot in West Hollywood after the court ruling. A few days later, McCrory proposed.
There’s just one more hurdle before they marry. McCrory is running for state Assembly in a Sept. 17 primary, “so we’re waiting for the election to be over.”
As a feminist, lawyer Nora Carroll, 31, says she has philosophical objections to “the institution of marriage and what it means for women.” She’s also “more anti-marriage” than her partner of five years, Colin Asher, 32, though he grew up with a nonconformist mom who never married his dad.
But gradually the Brooklyn, N.Y., couple realized they were missing out on some of the legal benefits of being married. When Asher, a writer who now teaches community college, was unemployed, he couldn’t get health insurance through Carroll’s employer, which offers domestic partner benefits for gay couples, but not straight ones. Still, they decided to postpone marriage until gay marriage was legal.
After the court ruling, Carroll said the idea of marriage seemed “more palatable. … It was very exciting to be planning a wedding and not have to think about it taking advantage of my heterosexual privilege.”
Their ceremony at City Hall will be followed by a party, where their adorable 18-month-old son Dante will likely get as much attention as the bride and groom.
FOR CELEBS, TIME TO PUT UP?
The court ruling prompted actress Kristen Bell to tweet to her fiance Dax Shepard: “@daxshepard1 will you marry me? Xo #marriageequality #loveislove.” Bell’s spokeswoman Sarah Fuller said they have not set a date.
Lena Dunham, star and creator of HBO’s “Girls,” whose boyfriend is fun. band member Jack Antonoff, also tweeted after the court decision: “No one be shocked if I get married and pregnant with a daughter today in a slightly premature fit of joy #americathebeautiful.” Dunham’s representative did not respond to a query on a wedding date.
No word on nuptials from Angelina Jolie, either, despite her fiance Brad Pitt telling The Hollywood Reporter last year they were in a hurry: “We made this declaration some time ago that we weren’t going to do it till everyone can. But I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out.”
So far, apparently, they have held out, prompting The Daily Beast to say, “If Angelina’s been playing us all along, it’s time to come clean.” Or, as journalist Joel Stein tweeted, “Angelina Jolie is hard at work coming up with new excuses not to marry Brad Pitt.”
This Feb. 26, 2012 file photo shows actress Angelina Jolie, right, and actor Brad Pitt at the 84th Academy Awards in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. Jolie and Pitt are among a number of celebrity couples who vowed not to marry until gay marriage was legal. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)