She and her wife, Abby Perfetti, made the deal about a year and a half after they had started dating. Abby was optimistic; she thought gay marriage would soon become legal in all 50 states. Sarah, however, had her doubts and didn’t think it would happen until after they were 80-years-old.
If Sarah won, they decided, Abby would have to get her an Olympic sized swimming pool in their backyard. If Abby won, Sarah would get her a baby grand piano.
On Friday the Supreme Court of the United States decided same sex marriages are protected by the Constitution. Although Abby is now in the market for the giant instrument, she doesn’t feel like a loser ?at all.
“We’ve all been waiting so long for this day, and it’s finally here,” she said. “It’s been a long while, so we need to celebrate.”
The couple has now had three weddings. One was what she called a “mass gay wedding” in 2013, when Mayor Mark Kruzan officiated a surprise wedding for 13 same-sex couples in Bloomington for that year’s Pride Film Festival.
“It was weird, but it felt special,” Sarah said of the ceremony. “We had made a political statement, but at the same time it was a big deal personally to announce to our city and a lot of our friends and family that we were committing our lives to each other.”
Though the wedding did make a statement, it was not legally binding in Indiana. So when gay marriage became legal for a brief 24 hours in Indiana last year, the women were the second couple in the state in line for a license.
“My mom’s a lawyer, and so she keeps a really close eye on all of the court stuff,” Abby said. “So when it was legalized in Indiana, she called me and was like ‘You have to get a license now because this might not last long.’”
The one-year anniversary of this second wedding was Thursday.
“It feels magical,” Abby said. “We share this anniversary with a lot of other same-sex couples, so it’s amazing to be able to celebrate together. My marriage is more important to me than anything, and I love that it’s recognized in every state now.”
Their third wedding was more traditional: an outdoor ceremony with family and friends with a wedding dress and a tux. Abby took Sarah’s last name because she has a sister named Sarah, so they would have had the same name. Plus, they like the name Perfetti.
Not only are they happy for the emotional benefits of having their union recognized, the women are also grateful for the legal ?benefits.
Married couples enjoy Social Security benefits which could result in larger retirement checks from the government, as well as other checks that can only be received by spouses.
Before this week, only 66 percent of Fortune 500 companies extended healthcare benefits to their employees’ same-sex partners. Now all spouses will be able to receive those benefits.
Same-sex couples will also now be able to file joint income tax forms together, and they will have an automatic right to their spouse’s inheritance when they die. If one partner is in the hospital, the other partner is now legally able to make medical decisions on their behalf.
“If we were in a state where it wasn’t recognized and Abby went to the hospital, I might not have been allowed to see her,” Sarah said. “With kids, there would be all of these custody issues. That won’t be a problem anymore.”
She remembered landing in America when they came home on their honeymoon in Iceland and having to think carefully about what state they were in. Because they landed in Massachusetts, where their marriage was recognized, they were able to fill out a customs form together.
“It’s not a big deal, it was just a customs form,” she said. “But the fact that we even had to think about it. I love that children in the future won’t remember a day when we had to fight for that right.”
Though Abby, Sarah and other members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in Bloomington were excited to celebrate the Supreme Court decision, they were all quick to emphasize that the battle for equal rights is far from over.
In many states, it is still legal to fire or not hire someone based on his or her sexuality. It is also legal not to rent a home or an apartment to someone based on his or her sexuality. Rights for the transgender community in particular were discussed at the Bloomington Pride celebration which took place Friday.
“We still have a long way to go,” Justin Ford, a representative of Bloomington Pride, said. “But now I know that if I have children, I’m bringing them into a better world than the one that I was brought into. And that’s pretty powerful.”
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