NEW YORK — No, it wasn't just an excuse to avoid getting hitched: Some heterosexual couples who postponed their weddings until gay couples had the right to marry are now making plans to say "I do."
And we're not talking celebrities like Brangelina, Lena Dunham and Kristen Bell, all of whom vowed not to marry until gay marriage was legal. None of them have rushed to announce wedding dates. Instead, it's ordinary folks who wasted no time following through on their pledges. Here are a few of their stories.
`I'M NOT GETTING MARRIED UNTIL EVERYONE CAN'
Staci Dennett, 25, is white. Her fiance, Nadir Karim, 25, is black. "Forty-six years ago, we couldn't have gotten married in the South, just because of our skin color," said Dennett, who compares the ban on interracial marriage to laws against gay marriage. "It blows my mind!"
Dennett says she agreed with Angelina Jolie's stand, and told Karim the same thing: "I'm not going to get married until everyone can."
She also kept thinking about a gay cousin who's in a relationship and just had twins. "Any time I thought about inviting them to my wedding, and asking them to be part of something where they have no ability to have any of these rights, it just didn't sit well with me," Dennett said.
Then in June, the U.S. Supreme Court wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law, and Dennett and Karim, who've been together five years, started planning their big day. They live in Philadelphia, where they run an online travel business called BeyondTheDiploma.com, but the celebration will be in Dennett's hometown, Winfield, Kan., on Nov. 12 (11-12-13) which happens to be her birthday.
The 35 invited guests include Dennett's gay cousin and her partner.
`A MORAL OBJECTION'
Debbie Ma, 32, is a social psychology professor at California State University-Northridge who studies stereotyping and prejudice. She didn't set a wedding date with her partner of 10 years, Peter Tassinario, 41, a consultant, until after the court ruling.
"I had moral objections to being part of something that makes part of our population feel like they're not full citizens," explained Ma, who lives in the San Fernando Valley. "For me, it feels very inconsistent to study things like discrimination and prejudice and then participate in a system that is actively discriminatory. There is a lot of research out there on institutional racism and how bigger structures like government structures or policies or cultural ideology seeps down into individual lives."
How did her fiance feel about putting off marriage? "He's a man! He was fine not to have a wedding," Ma said with a laugh, adding in a serious tone that he was "very supportive" about her reasons, but is happy they finally set a date for November.
Ma had told her students about her concerns, and was pleased when one of them said the first thing he thought about after the court ruling was, "I wonder if Debbie is going to get married."
Ma and Tassinario expect their officiant to "say a couple of things about our views on equality and stay away from traditional wedding vows." But the ceremony should also express why any couple marries, gay or straight: "Two people who come together because they love each other – and that's it."
`I HAD SEEN THEIR FIGHT'
Dan McCrory and Terri Haley have been together for 11 years. McCrory, who lives in California's San Fernando Valley, is a board member of the Stonewall Democratic Club, a progressive political group with a focus on issues of importance to the gay community.
"Because of my longtime involvement in the club, a lot of these people are my friends," said McCrory, 58, a writer who works for an insurance company. "I didn't feel right getting married if my friends couldn't. I had seen their fight, had seen how much this issue meant to them."
He says Haley, 50, who works for a phone company, "teased me about it," jokingly wondering if it was an excuse to avoid commitment. "But I think she knew it was because I wanted to do the right thing."
Haley was thrilled when an old friend and her partner were the first couple to tie the knot in West Hollywood after the court ruling. A few days later, McCrory proposed.
There's just one more hurdle before they marry. McCrory is running for state Assembly in a Sept. 17 primary, "so we're waiting for the election to be over."
As a feminist, lawyer Nora Carroll, 31, says she has philosophical objections to "the institution of marriage and what it means for women." She's also "more anti-marriage" than her partner of five years, Colin Asher, 32, though he grew up with a nonconformist mom who never married his dad.
But gradually the Brooklyn, N.Y., couple realized they were missing out on some of the legal benefits of being married. When Asher, a writer who now teaches community college, was unemployed, he couldn't get health insurance through Carroll's employer, which offers domestic partner benefits for gay couples, but not straight ones. Still, they decided to postpone marriage until gay marriage was legal.
After the court ruling, Carroll said the idea of marriage seemed "more palatable. ... It was very exciting to be planning a wedding and not have to think about it taking advantage of my heterosexual privilege."
Their ceremony at City Hall will be followed by a party, where their adorable 18-month-old son Dante will likely get as much attention as the bride and groom.
FOR CELEBS, TIME TO PUT UP?
The court ruling prompted actress Kristen Bell to tweet to her fiance Dax Shepard: "(at)daxshepard1 will you marry me? Xo (hash)marriageequality (hash)loveislove." Bell's spokeswoman Sarah Fuller said they have not set a date.
Lena Dunham, star and creator of HBO's "Girls," whose boyfriend is fun. band member Jack Antonoff, also tweeted after the court decision: "No one be shocked if I get married and pregnant with a daughter today in a slightly premature fit of joy (hash)americathebeautiful." Dunham's representative did not respond to a query on a wedding date.
No word on nuptials from Angelina Jolie, either, despite her fiance Brad Pitt telling The Hollywood Reporter last year they were in a hurry: "We made this declaration some time ago that we weren't going to do it till everyone can. But I don't think we'll be able to hold out."
So far, apparently, they have held out, prompting The Daily Beast to say, "If Angelina's been playing us all along, it's time to come clean." Or, as journalist Joel Stein tweeted, "Angelina Jolie is hard at work coming up with new excuses not to marry Brad Pitt."
Also on HuffPost:
Anne Hathaway, who's been outspoken about her support for her gay brother, <a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/film/anne-hathaway-1" target="_hplink">told Chelsea Handler in <em>Interview</em></a>, "The other thing I want to say about Jersey is they need to get on the New York bandwagon and legalize gay marriage." She continued, "But I think everybody should do that. It's not a specifically Jersey thing."
Though it was revealed recently that Pitt and longtime partner Angelina Jolie <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/brad-pitt-angelina-jolie-engaged-jeweler_n_1424139.html" target="_hplink">are now engaged</a> (they previously said they would not get married until marriage was an option for all people), the actor has been a staunch supporter of the LGBT community. In 2009 he donated $100,000 to fighting Proposition 8, the California law which made same-sex marriage illegal in the state. Pitt said: <blockquote>"Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn't harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/spielberg_makes_like_pitt_supports/30446" target="_hplink">my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8.</a>"</blockquote> Pitt also recently starred in a production of Dustin Lance Black's play "8," based on the Prop 8 trial.
Lauper launched her Give a Damn Campaign to raise awareness for the struggles of gay and transgender youth. "For far too long, dogma and fear have torn apart too many families,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cyndi-lauper/give-a-damn_b_1000046.html" target="_hplink">" she wrote in The Huffington Post in 2011</a>. "It is a time when the heart must lead the way when your child shares this personal and life-changing moment with you."
In a 2011 interview with <em>GQ</em> Eastwood said: "These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don't give a f*** about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We're making a big deal out of things we shouldn't be making a deal out of. They go on and on with all this bulls*** about "sanctity" -- don't give me that sanctity crap! <a href="http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/201110/leonardo-dicaprio-clint-eastwood-gq-september-2011-cover-story-article#ixzz1dEBChGb4" target="_hplink">Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want."</a>
Barrymore <a href="http://www.justjared.com/2009/05/27/drew-barrymore-gay-marriage-rally/" target="_hplink">stepped out to support gay marriage</a> after the California Supreme Court's ruling to uphold Proposition 8 in 2009, saying "I am who I am because of the people who influenced me growing up, and many of them were gay. No one has any right to tell anyone what makes a family."
During an interview on SiriusXM radio, Barkley was asked how he felt about gay players in the locker room. Barkley responded <a href="http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2011/05/media-watch-charles-barkley-on-gay-athletes----we-dont-care/1#.T4wuIZrLx1M" target="_hplink">that a gay player would only be judged based</a> on "whether he can play or not. If somebody is gay, that's their own business. But it bothers me how people try to say that jocks are not going to like a gay. ... I think gay people should be allowed to get married and God bless them, that's their own business. Listen, if a guy can't play that's the only time we don't want to play with him. We don't care about all that extracurricular stuff."
"I like the diversity that my children are exposed to every day," Kate Winslet <a href="http://www.vmagazine.com/2011/09/kate-winslet/?page=2" target="_hplink">told <em>V</em> magazine in 2011</a>. "I love the way their brains work. Joe [her son] turns to me the other day and says, 'One day, I will have a girlfriend. But I might have a boyfriend. If I'm gay.' He's 7! And I said, 'You might have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, darling.' And he said, 'Which would you prefer?' And I said, 'My love, that would be entirely up to you, and it doesn't make any difference to me.'"
Not only has the New York Rangers hockey star come out in support of gay marriage (see the video above), when asked about <a href="http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2011/02/03/17146546.html" target="_hplink">what he'd do if there were a gay player in the locker room</a> he said: <blockquote>"I'll stand beside him in the dressing room while he tells his teammates he is gay. Maybe if Sean Avery is there, they would have less of a problem with it."</blockquote>
The "Harry Potter" star has long been an advocate for LGBT causes including <a href="http://www.thetrevorproject.org/" target="_hplink">The Trevor Project</a>, which helps LGBT youth who are dealing with suicidal thoughts. Radcliffe, who was <a href="http://www.out.com/entertainment/2010/08/08/daniel-radcliffe-and-our-lady-j-odd-couple" target="_hplink">featured on the cover of gay men's magazine <em>Out</em></a> with transgender musician and friend Our Lady J, will play gay poet Allen Ginsberg in an upcoming biopic.
"I think it's a very basic human rights issue," Moore, who played one half of a lesbian couple in 2010's "The Kids Are Alright,"<a href="http://www.wwd.com/eye/parties/calvin-klein-fetes-americans-for-marriage-equality-5400017" target="_hplink"> told <em>Women's Wear Daily.</em></a> "Everybody has the right to marry the person they love and be represented as a couple and family....It's something that people will look back on in years to come and say, 'I can't believe it took so long for us to recognize this.' It'll be like segregation and giving women the right to vote."
Brad Pitt wasn't the only one to donate to the fight against Prop 8. In 2008 Steven Spielberg also plunked down $100,000 in hopes of defeating the anti-marriage equality bill. Spielberg, who made the donation with his wife Kate Capshaw, said: "By writing discrimination into our state constitution, Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate the right of each and every citizen in our state to marry regardless of sexual orientation. <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/spielberg_makes_like_pitt_supports/30446#ixzz1sDFjEXxY" target="_hplink">Such discrimination has NO place in California's constitution, or any other.</a>"
In August 2011, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/03/miley-cyrus-why-i-got-my-gay-marriage-tattoo_n_1253130.html" target="_hplink">Cyrus tattooed</a> a small "equals" sign on her middle finger, in support of same-sex marriage. She later told <em>Glamour</em> that the idea of not being able to marry the person you love more than anything in the world makes her "feel sick to her stomach."
Penn played the role of slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk and was awarded an Oscar for his incredible portrayal. During his acceptance speech Penn said: <blockquote>"I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."</blockquote>
Pink chose to set the video for her 2010 hit "Raise Your Glass" at a gay wedding. "I threw my best friend's wedding in my backyard -- [she] is gay and she married her wife, and it was absolutely beautiful," <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1649597/pinks-raise-your-glass-video-celebrates-gay-marriage.jhtml" target="_hplink">she told MTV News</a>. "At the end of it, her mom said, 'Why can't this be legal?' and started crying. It was just the most heartbreaking thing I've ever seen, so that's why I'm doing it in my video. "
The entertainment mogul has long been an ally to the LGBT community. In a 2009 Huffington Post blog written as an open letter to then NY Governor David Paterson, Simmons said: <blockquote>"You have recently done this in showing support for the legalization of gay marriage. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-simmons/dear-governor-paterson-an_b_188307.html" target="_hplink">History will show you are right</a> and will we support you on this issue."</blockquote>
Portman and husband Benjamin Millepied <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/natalie_portman_benjamin_millepied_say/245874" target="_hplink">were among the stars</a> who signed Freedom to Marry's "I Do" open letter, which called on President Obama to declare his support for marriage equality.
The son of two lesbians, Wahls gave an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/01/zach-wahls-iowa-student-marriage-equality_n_1123020.html" target="_hplink">incredible pro-gay marriage, pro-gay parenting speech</a> in front of the Iowa House of Representatives in February of 2011. The speech was so inspiring that it went viral on the Internet not just in February of 2011 but then again nearly 11 months later in December of 2011. Up next, Wahls will serve as co-chair for "The Outspoken Generation," the Family Equality Council's national youth advocacy initiative <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/zach-wahls-outspoken-generation-ella-robinson-gay-parents_n_1408703.html" target="_hplink">involving the young adult children of LGBT parents.</a> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/zach-wahls-outspoken-generation-ella-robinson-gay-parents_n_1408703.html
Following New York's historic passage of a same-sex marriage bill in June 2011, Jennifer Aniston <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1666491/jennifer-aniston-gay-marriage-vote.jhtml" target="_hplink">told MTV News:</a> "It's great! I thought it was unbelievable. So exciting in this time and that it happens to be Gay Pride weekend. What a great weekend."
In a recent interview with "the Advocate," the longtime LGBT ally, addressed rumors about his own sexuality and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/george-clooney-advocate-gay-rumors-marriage-brad-pitt_n_1310901.html" target="_hplink">affirmed his dedication to supporting his gay friends</a>: <blockquote>"I think it's funny, but the last thing you'll ever see me do is jump up and down, saying, 'These are lies!' That would be unfair and unkind to my good friends in the gay community," Clooney said. "I'm not going to let anyone make it seem like being gay is a bad thing. My private life is private, and I'm very happy in it. Who does it hurt if someone thinks I'm gay? I'll be long dead and there will still be people who say I was gay. I don't give a sh*t."</blockquote>
The wrestling star and Division I wrestling coach recently launched Athlete Ally, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which aims to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hudson-taylor/gay-college-sports-coaches_b_1210651.html" target="_hplink">educate and empower straight allies in sports</a> to speak out against homophobia and transphobia.
Hutcherson is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/josh-hutcherson-glaad-vanguard-award_n_1428460.html" target="_hplink">the youngest person to ever be honored by GLAAD with the Vanguard Award for his work with the LGBT community</a>, which includes the founding of Straight But Not Narrow, a campaign that "is primarily directed to the young, straight male by using comedy and their peers to positively influence their views on LGBT teens." The teen, who filmed a video for SBNN (see above) told SamaritanMag.com, "...[the campaign] hits close to home for me. I have a lot of gay friends in Los Angeles. My roommate's gay and I lost two uncles when I was young to AIDS, so it's an important cause in my family."