When people envision about same-sex marriages, they picture newlyweds Neil Patrick Harris and David Burka, Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi who were married in 2008, or other couples in their 20s to 40s. But, a wedding in Iowa this weekend between two elderly women in their 90s exemplifies the impact same-sex the right to marry has had for couples long denied the right – in this case, for very long.
Alice “Nonie” Dubes, 90, and Vivian Boyack, 91, tied the knot in Davenport, Iowa, this weekend after being a couple since 1942. The women said side by side in wheelchairs at the event, which was officiated over at the First Christian Church by the Rev. Linda Hunsaker and attended by close family and friends. The nonagenarians, who have been together more than 70 years, exchanged gold wedding bands. As Hunsaker noted, the celebration should have happened years ago.
The women initially met in Yale, Iowa, during a time when no one admitted they were part of a same-sex couple. The idea of being a public couple, much less make it a legal relationship, was unthinkable.
Dubes and Boyack moved to Davenport in 1947. Dubes did payroll work for a local newspaper and then a scrap metal recycling company. Meanwhile, Boyack was an elementary school teacher.
Iowa first allowed same-sex marriage in 2009, but the couple was reluctant. However, after prodding from close friends and family, the same-sex couple tied the knot Saturday.
Same-Sex Marriages 10 Years On
It has been 10 years since the first same-sex marriages began in the U.S. In May 2004, Massachusetts was the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Since then 20 states and the District of Columbia have either legalized same-sex marriage or had same-sex marriage bans struck down by courts. By some estimates, far more than 114,000 same-sex couples were legally married as of 2012 in the U.S., with more (like Harris and Burka as well as Dubes and Boyack, both couples who celebrated weddings this weekend) since then.
Since the first weddings in Massachusetts, far more than 71,000 couples have gotten married at the 10 states (and D.C.) issuing licenses through 2011, according to Pew Research. Actual figures are not available because many states do not take gender on licenses, just Party A and Party B. Additionally, some states that had allowed same-sex couples civil unions converted them to marriages once their laws changed, such as New Hampshire.
The boon in same-sex weddings has had significant economic impacts, besides the societal and legal ones. There are hundreds of millions of dollars involved in wedding arrangements, attire and travel expenditures (honeymoons and guests coming for the nuptials). In Washington state alone, an estimated $88 million in three years was involved in same-sex couple weddings.
For Harris and Burka, the wedding was long expected for the same-sex couple. But, for Dubes and Boyack, it represents the end of a lifetime lived – moving from hiding their relationship under the guise of roommates to being an elderly married couple – which they could not have imagined when the same-sex duo got together in 1942.
By Dyanne Weiss