Less than two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed same-sex marriage as the law of the land, and this country’s LGBT community rejoiced in that ruling, and in the other giant leaps forward we’ve made toward full equality over the last decade-and-a-half.
Then came Nov. 8, 2016 and the election of Donald Trump as president. Since taking office less than a month ago, Trump has set about signing executive orders and nominating a cabinet — and one Supreme Court justice — that threaten our progress and even the American way of life..
In light of this ominous political climate, we asked long-term couples to tell us what significance Valentine’s Day has for them this year. What we learned is that our community remains undaunted: We will not go back. After all, Love is Love.
Ann and Moira Brown
(Together 16 years, married for 12)
“We have to love each other extra hard now because our government hates us.”
Bruce Jaster and Remy Tran
“Valentine’s Day has always had special meaning for us — a day calling attention to the love that is so wonderful year-round. Current events don’t diminish or enhance that day for us. They are irrelevant.”
Lorie Burch and Kimberly Kantor
“This year, more than ever, Valentines’ Day reminds us that life and love are precious and everyday is worth celebrating!” (Photo courtesy Marcia Stuhler from Love is Love Photography)
Gregory Craft and Buster Spiller
Gregory: “Valentine’s Day this year solidifies my love, my value and 21 years of relationship, and I do not take my marriage for granted. I have confidence it will not be eroded. The Supreme Court can NOT dissolve our marriage. As a veteran who has FOUGHT for the freedoms all Americans have, this is important to me and can’t be invalidated.
Linus: I’m not sure if President Trump will succumb to pressure from his supporters to invalidate our marriage, but if he tries it will be met by vigorous Supreme Court challenges. And if that is the case, I am willing to fight TOOTH AND NAIL to preserve what we have. Like Gregory said, the Supreme Court should NOT invalidate our marriage or that of other same-sex couples. We have a constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that includes civil MARRIAGE between two consenting adults.
Eddie Sherbert & Ralf Baumann
“Sharing and expressing our love for each other is more special than ever before this year. Our memories are cherished every day together, making our bond greater and stronger.”
The Rev. Carol West and Angela King
“We think Valentine’s Day this year, especially, has us focusing on what love is — and also what it is not. We have seen too many recent examples of what it is not. We believe we should live in love and not fear, so after having been a couple for almost 30 years — this April makes 30 — we are planning our summer wedding and surrounding ourselves with people who also refuse to be defined by fear.”
Karen McCrocklin and Marla Custard
What does Valentine’s Day mean this year? “Hold your loved ones close, protect the vulnerable and RESIST.”
Candy Cave and Connie McLain
“This year, after 25 years of being a couple, we are FINALLY legally married! That’s what Valentine’s Day means to us this year.”
Cannon Flowers and RafiQ Salleh-Flowers:
“Under the current ‘so-called president,’ we are reminded that our international love affair of 20-plus years, and now — legal — marriage is never entirely safe. We cherish each other daily – Valentine’s Day 365 days a year.”
Felicia Miller and Katrina Franklin
Valentine’s Dayis rooted in an ancient Roman festival celebrating ‘fertility,’ traditionally celebrated on Feb. 15. For us, the meaning of Valentine’s Day lies in the HEART of our rich family ties, immediate and extended. We have been blessed with loving parents and colorful siblings that both challenge and charm us. Spanning more than a decade of our union and more than two decades of our friendship, we celebrate the highs and the lows of family life with a host of nieces, nephews and cousins. One of our proudest achievements is an amazing and adoring son who has honored both his mothers with a beautiful, talented and sensitive grandson who proudly proclaims his love for us, Grandma and Grandma Fe. From our perspective, everyday is Valentine’s Day — bittersweet, loving, painful, joyful and perpetually filled with an abundance of flowers called ‘FAMILY.’”
Mera and Jimmie Tucker
Jimmie: “I’m grateful every year for having my wife, and I’m really glad we got legally married a couple years ago. No one can take that away from us!”
Mera: “Times are as scary as I’ve ever seen them. It makes me glad that I can hibernate at home with my wife and our four-legged babies, and that’s all I want or need for Valentine’s Day this year!”
Lerone Landis and Danny Valle
“In light of current events, we think Valentine’s Day this year means that we need to keep on loving, cherishing, and celebrating our life together that much more — like it’s our last day to do so! It is not so far-fetched now that we could all lose our freedoms to love and/or marry. So on this Valentine’s Day we should all love a little more, hug a little tighter and never take what you have together for granted.”
Michael Champion and Bill Lindsey
(Sable Alexander and Linze Serrell)
“This year Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to still and always love the one person who gives me purpose, who accepts for me and who I can share my whole being with. This is a love that will not be taken, that cannot be beaten down nor will it ever shatter. This is a forever and ever amen love.”
Erin Moore and Patti Fink
“Love in the time of Trump: Instead of going out to dinner, we go to protests. Instead of buying gifts, we donate. Instead of watching TV, we write emails and make phone calls.”
Hardy Haberman and Patrick Dale Ryan
“In this age when we are so filled with division and animosity, a celebration of love seems antithetical. Though my partner, Patrick, and I have never been very enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day, perhaps this year it bears thinking about. We have been together for 22 years this April, and we have never felt the need to add an extra day to celebrate our love for one another. We show that love constantly in little ways: Listening to each other’s frustrations, celebrating each other’s success, crying with one another when sorrows come. Picking a single day to pour all that love into seems impossible and somewhat artificial, so we have never bought heart-shaped boxes of candy or over-priced roses. This year, when so much of our world may be changing, when our relationship may once again be seen as illegal or aberrant, we talked about reconsidering our views on Valentine’s Day, but decided to continue loving one another no matter what day it is, and no matter what may come.”
Steve Atkinson and Ted Kincaid
“We have been together for 27 years, and got married in California in 2008. Valentine’s Day for us is a celebration of our love for each other. But, with today’s political climate in our country, it also makes us mindful that despite the hard-fought marriage equality victory we will continue to have to fight for our rights as LGBT couples and families.”
Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes
“This Valentine’s Day is the 20th we will celebrate as a couple and the second we will celebrate as husbands. During those 20 years, celebrated Vic’s numerous promotions in and eventual retirement from the U.S. Air Force after 23 years of service. We shared in the joy of the births of new family, the loss of others. We fought for the right to marry each other and ultimately we married each other in the state we call home. Through it all, we remain each other’s best friend and cannot imagine life without the other. The continued efforts by the Texas’ most senior elected officeholders, who seek to treat our marriage as second class in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of ‘equal protection of the law,’ is shameful and hurtful. Our celebration of our love on this Valentine’s Day is proof, though, that they continue to be on the wrong side of love as well as on the wrong side of the law.”
Leslie McMurray and Katie Sprinkle
Katie: “For many years, Valentine’s Day meant complacency. Due to my gender identity issues, I spent several years avoiding dating relationships. That changed three years ago when Leslie, and I found each other. We know that ‘Love Trumps Hate.’
Leslie: “There is a picture of Katie and me at the press conference celebrating the Obergefell ruling. It’s one of my favorites. We look so happy — I was filled with joy to know I could now marry the woman I love. This year with Trump in office, I have lost some of that joy and hope I had. I worry that my right to someday say ‘I do’ to Katie may be taken away. So Valentine’s Day is a little bittersweet. Good thing I like bittersweet chocolate!”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February, 10 2017.