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About a year ago, Corrie Sharp picked Jennifer Tom up from work with a big surprise: Corrie had a dinner reservation at a beautiful restaurant on the bay in San Diego, and she wanted to enjoy a romantic dinner and watch the sunset with Jennifer.
The women, who have now been partners for nearly ten years, enjoyed a nice dinner, and as they wrapped up the check, Corrie rushed Jennifer out of the restaurant and into the car, driving her to Sunset Cliffs so they didn't miss a minute of the sun setting over the bay. As they sat down, Corrie pulled out a cake box from Jennifer's favorite bakery, opened the box, and presented it. Inside was Jennifer's favorite cake with a very special decoration resting on the frosting: A ring that represented Corrie's commitment to the woman she loved.
Corrie and Jennifer had decided several years before that they would get married, but they had originally planned to tie the knot in their home state of California. However, with Proposition 8 on the books - the November 2008 law that stripped same-sex couples of the freedom to marry, which had been approved by the state Supreme Court five months before - the women knew they would have to wait for the judicial process to run its course and for Proposition 8 to be ruled unconstitutional once and for all.
"After years of being together, we were sick of waiting," Jennifer said. That's why they took a trip to Providence, Mass. this September for a small, intimate ceremony to officially attain their legal marriage license.
"We feel confident in our decision to marry in Massachusetts," Jennifer said. "Not just because it was a wonderful experience there - but because we have faith in the California judicial system in making this right, and that our marriage will be recognized at home."
After nine and a half years, Corrie and Jennifer married in Provincetown on September 27, 2012. They stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast in town and held a small private ceremony on the facility's grounds - just them, their reverend from the Universalist church, and two bed and breakfast employees who snapped some photos and videos. They set the mood with pop music covers by the String Quartet, exchanged vows, danced together, toasted with a bottle of champagne, and dug into their wedding dinner and wedding cake.
"After the ceremony, we walked through the streets of Provincetown still in our wedding clothes," Jennifer explained. "People smiled at us and honked their horns in praise. It felt wonderful to be in a place that welcomed our union and celebrated with us. Waking up the next day, looking at the woman lying next to me, and realizing that she was my wife was one of the most incredible and exhilarating feelings I've ever had."
Now that they're back in San Diego, Corrie and Jennifer are happily married but very much aware that the state of California continues to not respect their marriage. Until Proposition 8 is ruled unconstitutional once and for all - which could happen as soon as next week - same-sex couples in California who married out of state will not be recognized as "married."
Corrie and Jennifer say they have high hopes for California, and that the Supreme Court will do the right thing - either not take the Prop 8 case, which would restore the freedom to marry, or take the case and rule Prop 8 unconstitutional - and stand on the right side of history.
"This country is shifting," Jennifer remarked. "More and more open-minded people are registering and voting and electing representatives that pledge to fight for equal rights."
Corrie and Jennifer are just one of thousands of couples eagerly awaiting the day when Prop 8 is defeated for good.
"I imagine when the day comes when Prop 8 is gone, I will be overwhelmed with joy," Jennifer said. "We'll want to be a part of any celebration here in San Diego. It will give us the validation, the security, and the confidence we have been seeking here in our own state to live our lives with all of the rights of heterosexual married couples. We are a hard-working, well educated, deeply loving, family-minded couple, and we will not accept being treated like second-class citizens."
To read the Freedom to Marry blog, click HERE.