Meet Ohio Families
After 50 years together, Henry and George traveled to New York City to legally wed. But once they crossed the state lines to return to their home state of Ohio, the legally married couple was treated as nothing more than legal strangers. Nearly half a century of love and commitment—and they want nothing more than to be respected in the state they call home.
This spring, Joseph Vitale and Robert Talmas sat in a crowded court room in Cincinnati, Ohio, anxious for some clarity in the legal case they had filed with several other same-sex couples and the legal teams at Gerhardstein & Branch Co., JPA and Newman & Meeks Co., LPA.
When Ethan Fletcher and Andrew Hickam, Jr. envision their future together, they start at the beginning: They want to look toward building a future while standing before all of their family members and friends, reflecting on how important they are to each other, and declaring their love, commitment, and promise to stand together.
For nearly two full decades, Michelle Gibson and Deborah Meem have shared a deep and powerful love – a love that has seen them through years of building their family together in Ohio, a love that has flourished with mutual academic interests in writing, feminism, and LGBT scholarship, a love that has provided the support they have needed to endure the challenges that life has presented to them.
Happy New Year, Ohio! 2014 is off to a great start, with community members coming together across our state to show their support for marriage equality. We are working hard to build momentum across Ohio to change hearts and minds about why marriage matters to all families. As we kick off the new year, we are excited to continue to elevate the stories of real Ohio families and why marriage matters to them.
Robert Johnson-Keeton was residing in Chillicothe, Ohio, in 2008 when he first met Jeff Keeton. The pair had met online, where they started chatting and struck up a friendship. “We would send messages to each other on MySpace and e-mail, and spend hours talking on the phone just getting to know each other,” Robert said. “Jeff was so easy to talk to, and we got along so well. We bonded as friends for months before we realized we had developed stronger feelings for each other.”
Jim Riedel spotted Stephen Weed from across the local and friendly neighborhood bar–and from that moment, Jim knew he had to meet him. It was the spring of 1995, and both men were out on the town in San Francisco with their friends. Jim was trying to focus on his game of pool, but Stephen had caught his attention. Jim asked a mutual friend to introduce them.
Kelley Andersen and Alli Gates met through mutual friends almost six years ago, in Cincinnati, OH where they both reside. “We didn’t spend much time together when we first met, we would just occasionally bump into each other.” Kelley said. “I always thought Allison seemed really interesting, our schedules just kept us from running into it each more frequently.”
Though Leah Kaiser and Jenn Lape met in high school, they were far from high school sweethearts. The two women attended school in Cincinnati, OH, and were avid athletes. “We were on the same volleyball team, and I remember my first impression of Jenn was ‘why is this girl wearing makeup to practice?’” Leah joked. “She didn’t think much of me either–I was always late to practice!”
When Jessica McCoy met Brandy Lockhard, she had just moved back to her hometown of Cincinnati after doing graduate work out of state. It was the summer of 2010, and Jessica had just come out. She was excited to start her life again in Cincinnati–but this time as her true self. Click here to read their story.