A Texas couple is among the five winners of the national American Civil Liberties Union’s Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding contest.
Jeff Robertson and Jeremiah Pyant of Houston were one of 23 same-sex couples from the Lone Star State vying for the chance to win $5,000 toward their dream wedding. Contestants had to live in state like Texas where same-sex marriage is prohibited to be eligible to enter.
Pyant, a flight attendant, and Robertson, an ad executive, met four years ago aboard a plane that Pyant was working on. They got engaged in December and want to marry aboard a hot air balloon taking off from Texas and flying over New Mexico, where the marriage will be legal.
Winners were chosen out of the top 25 couples that received the most votes. ACLU told The Associated Press nearly 200,000 votes were cast for the 400 entries since the contest’s December launch.
After the contest began, more court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage started coming out of states, including a decision in Texas back in February.
“As soon as we entered the contest, the court decisions started coming out,” said Jeff Robertson. “We’re living a civil rights movement right before our eyes.”
James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project, said the wedding contest highlights the type of problems faced by gay couples in the nearly 30 states where marriage-equality lawsuits have been filed.
“We live in this crazy time, with a patchwork of protections, where you can go across the border and get married,” he said. “The problem is that when you turn around and go back, you’re not going to be considered married by your home states. That’s not the way it should work in America.”