We met working on a production of “Romeo and Juliet” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We dated for a year, and then decided to commit to a permanent relationship. We did this in a park in Albuquerque in front of family, friends and coworkers. We even bought a house and remodeled it.

No sooner had we finished the house then Jeff lost his job, so we had to move to Seattle, Washington, for a new one. We settled in with new friends, bought another ramshackle house and went to work on it. Everyone knew us as a couple, and when we mentioned that we weren’t technically married, we had to explain that legally, we couldn’t be. We did register as civil partners – the best we could do in Seattle. And we went to a lawyer and set up legal and medical powers of attorney and a contract giving each other as many of the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage as we could. It took us almost $5,000 to get more or less the same contract heterosexuals could get with an $85 marriage license.

Then, Jeff’s daughter got in touch. She was the result of an unintended pregnancy when he was in college, and she wanted to meet her birthparents. After a year or so of visits back and forth between Seattle, Minneapolis (where her birthmother lives) and Battle Creek, Michigan, John and I decided we’d move closer to her. We thought about Chicago, but all the roads into town were closed for repairs, so we decided on Minneapolis.
“You won’t like it, John,” I insisted. “It gets cold. It snows. Trust me, I grew up in St. Paul and I know!” So we moved to Minneapolis. Six months later, my daughter got a job in Minneapolis and joined us. A year later, we bought a house. Six years ago, my daughter adopted a wonderful little boy from Ethiopia, so here the four of us are, in partly remodeled house number 3.

John’s family was upset that we were “living in sin,” so two years ago we went to Iowa and officially wed. We’ve been together for 25 years, now. I’m retired, John has multiple sclerosis, and our grandson is about to enter kindergarten. We couldn’t be more married!

-John and Jeff Westerfield