In San Diego as soon as California recognized same-sex marriage, the current Executive Director of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus Bob Lehman and his husband made history by being the first in line to tie the knot.
But there is another marriage equality first. Rewind 48 years ago and 2,000 miles away when another couple Richard John “Jack” Baker and Michael McConnell from Hennepin County, Minnesota applied for a marriage license in that state.
They were, of course, denied and lost their appeal of the denial, but they reapplied in Earth County, Minnesota, where apparently the clerk didn’t realize the request was for two men and issued it anyway.
According to LGBTQ Nation, the license was about to be processed but the county’s attorney told the clerk to not record it. However, nobody asked that the marriage be revoked.
Both Baker and McConnell have contested that for the past five decades their marriage is perfectly legal and they have the signed legal documents to prove it.
“I was only a first-year law student when I read the state’s marriage statues and realized there was nothing that prevented two men from marrying,” Baker said in a press release.
The men are still together and it was only when they went to confirm social security benefits that they asked for official recognition of their union.
They finally go that validation.
As of September 2018, a district court in Minnesota issued a ruling which states, “The marriage is declared to be in all respects valid.”
Baker says it was definitely worth the wait, “The ruling was a long time coming, but I knew the courts would eventually rule in our favor,” he said. “Over the years, many legal scholars have reviewed our case and concluded that the law was on our side.”
Red tape still remained; the federal government had to make their stamp of approval. Which they did on February 16, 2019, when the Social Security Administration sent them a confirmation letter stating the marriage was valid on all levels and they are entitled to Social Security benefits.
“This is really a Valentine,” said McConnell. “It proves what I’ve always said. Jack and I are in our 70s, and we’ve been married almost 50 years.”
He adds: “Our marriage is all about the power of love. Sometimes it takes a while, but in the end, love always wins.”
The Supreme Court of the United States approved marriage equality across all states in 2015.