Dean Speaking On:
I’d Like You to Know
Identity and Awareness
Mentoring and Support
Spirituality and Religion
Spokane in Perspective
There are at least three male couples in Spokane that have been together for at least 50 years.
In August of ’11 [Michael and I] had a commitment ceremony. That date was picked primarily for convenience. My grandma’s getting older and older, and summer, and that was the date that [we] could get some of Michael’s relatives here. We sort of selected that date out of convenience. It didn’t have any great significance. We also anticipated that in five to seven years, we’d be able to get legally married. Not having the foggiest clue that would be two [years]. It was real easy to go through the commitment ceremony on what we called our 25th anniversary. [We] expected to get married in five to seven years.
Well, then the next year, which would’ve been our 26th year, was Referendum 74. Going through all that, with the whole process of marriage being legal . . . Last November it was legal, but that was only in the State of Washington. There weren’t federal recognitions. To me, there are some advantages and also disadvantages to federal recognition; a potential disadvantage is tax consequences. I was not really willing to go there and pay greater tax consequences without [being] able to reap the benefits of Social Security and those kinds of things. I’m more than happy to pay [taxes] if there is a penalty [for being married], as long as the benefits are treated equally and the benefits are equally available to me.
So then, when the US Supreme Court ruled the way they did in DOMA, saying that marriage was legal—it would be recognized by the IRS on a federal level and [with] Social Security—it was like, “Huh? How can this be happening?” So, we sort of didn’t do anything.
In the state of Washington, you have a two-day waiting period. We had a conversation. [We] started a couple of times, had false starts, and got into the conversation, “Well, are we going to get married? When?” And, it sounds silly, but “Do we really want to have another date to try and remember for our anniversary?” So, July 26, 1986, was the date we consider our anniversary. That’s the date we met. We decided on July 20 to get married on July 26 .
So, we did that. We jumped through the hoops and, with a day to spare, got married. July 26 we moved our rings from our right hand [where he wore them after our commitment ceremony] to our left hand [to signify that we were legally married]. We had to take them in and get them sized, because we’re both right-handed and our right-hand ring finger is larger than the left-hand ring finger. So the rings had to be made smaller. That’s the story.
Sources: Two interviews with Maureen Nickerson [c. 2007]; transcribed by K. M. and Laura S. Hodgman; edited by Maureen Nickerson and Laura S. Hodgman; held in the Northwest Museum for Arts and Culture. Interviews with Laura S. Hodgman on 25 July 2013 and 12 September 2013.