In San Francisco, we have a new outreach partnership with Marriage Equality USA’s LOVING Quilt Project. The LOVING Quilt Project, curated by the effervescent Maya Scott Chung, is a traveling exhibit of quilts featuring beautiful story and photo collages of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex married couples along with their families. The project is about honoring families affected by the legislation against the right for all to marry. We are so thrilled to be working with this fantastic project to celebrate and preserve the voices and stories of these couples.
Dr. Erica Britton and Gwendolyn Bikis first met at a book club. They have been married several times; their right to marry has been overturned and marriage certificates nullified a few times over the course of their relationship. Last married in 2008 – the ‘Summer of Love’ – they are one of the 18,000 couples whose marriage is still recognized by the state of California after the passing of Proposition 8. As Erica says, ‘We are one of the fortunate few.’
Erica and Gwendolyn came to the StoryBooth and shared some of the moments when they felt “most married.” For Erica, it was after their wedding ceremony when the party was dying down, and she and Gwendolyn were sitting on the back of a pick-up truck, their feet dangling, watching the sunset and catching their breath together for the first time that day. For Gwendolyn, she feels most married on Saturday afternoons at home, when they argue about what to watch on TV. This, of course, made Erica laugh.
Erica also shared a poignant moment from their marriage: recently Gwen was called back for more tests after a mammogram and they both feared the worst. As Erica packed their bags for the hospital she made sure to pack their marriage certificate as well, fearing the doctors wouldn’t believe they were legally married and that she would not be allowed to be with her wife or be included in the medical decision-making. Erica was emotional as she recounted that day; the fear still visible in her face.
Fortunately, there were no problems with Gwendolyn’s health or their experience in the hospital. As Erica said, the doctor looked them both in the eye and discussed all the medical options with the both of them.
Gwendolyn and Erica are looking forward to spending the rest of their lives loving and caring for each other. They hope their marriage will always be honored in the state of California, and hopefully one day all across the country. Erica’s hope for the future is that she and Gwendolyn can be little old ladies, sitting on a porch in Atlanta drinking tea, together–as wife and wife.