After Getting Hitched In Every Marriage Equality State, “Married & Counting’s” Couple Reflects On DOMA, Prop 8

Three years ago, Pat Dwyer and Stephen Mosher decided to celebrate their 25th anniversary as a couple by getting legally married in every state that would allow them. The concept was to get as much protection under the law as possible, though at the time, they couldn’t even get wed in the state in which they lived — New York. Narrated by George Takei, the documentary Married and Counting mirrors Pat and Stephen’s journey towards equality with that of the nation’s. And it couldn’t come at a better time. The doc came out just a day before the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional in a double whammy for gay civil rights. We sat down with Pat and Stephen and director Allan Piper to discuss the fall of DOMA and Prop 8 and what it means to them, as well as the tidal wave of change in the years since they first decided to say “I do” and “I do” and “I do”…

QUEERTY: How did you react to the SCOTUS rulings? What were your first thoughts?

ALLAN: I was thrilled. I thought of what Pat says in the movie “I feel like we are part of something so huge that we won’t know how big this moment in history is until it is history.”

STEPHEN: Well, I Facebooked them immediately! Then I sat down to watch the news unfold on TV with the same excitement I had when New York’s Marriage Equality bill passed. It was like Christmas, New Year’s, the release of the movie and a Barbra Streisand concert all in one fell swoop. I was most excited to see the televised results in California when Prop 8 fell. I knew it would be a sight to see. Somewhere in there, while watching, the tears started to fall…

PAT: I had thought all along that the rulings would go the way they did, with SCOTUS declaring Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional and that they would kick Prop 8 back, so I had one of those “told ya” moments. I was pleased that we took a step forward but I had wished that it was a bigger step. 37 states can still deny their gay residents are married so I also knew this journey of ours was not over.


QUEERTY: Were you surprised at how quickly the laws changed? Just 3 years ago when you first started this doc, Pat & Stephen couldn’t get married in New York, now all these states have adopted marriage equality and DOMA is officially unconstitutional.  What do you attribute to such a quick and dramatic shift?

ALLAN: I’m hesitant to talk about change coming quickly, because it’s taken so many generations of people fighting to get where we are now, but there’s certainly been a remarkable acceleration in the past few years. The main reason is people like Pat and Stephen bravely standing up and demanding to be counted. It’s easier to be against an abstract idea than to be against actual people. That’s why they wanted to put two more faces on marriage equality for people.

PAT: This change happening so fast is dizzying and wonderful. I think that the increase of visibility of gay people in daily life and the realization that we are your sons and daughters, parents, family and friends is a big part of why this change is happening. Add to that the younger generations coming up that just have more information, communication, and maturity and a real connectedness to everyone in their lives through the social network.  Our children are not losing the ability to communicate because of social media and texting, etc… They are evolving their own.

STEPHEN: I am always hopefully pessimistic.  In my heart I always believe in magic, but intellectually, I know the odds are against it.  That way when it doesn’t happen I am not so let down, and when it does, I can go over the top with joy.  The truth is, you can feel the tidal wave.  With each passing year, then month, now week, the tide has been turning, and the momentum is so strong now, it had to change.  We are lucky to have allies in the public figures and politicians willing to speak out on our behalf, particularly the President. They have the collective eye of the public that might not be paying much attention to the activists who are actually gay.  The conservatives and the fanatics will keep fighting but we are gaining strength and we’ve been fighting longer – we’re better at it.  And we’re going to win in the end.  Absolutely.

ALLAN: While Married and Counting is more of a love story than a political film, the President also deserves part of the credit. He’s been criticized for having had an “evolving” position, but the great champions of equality — people like JFK, LBJ, and Lincoln — haven’t been people born with ideas ahead of their times. They’ve  arrived at those ideas through personal growth, and convinced the rest of us to grow with them. I worked for the President on his campaign video team, so I may not be wholly unbiased, but that’s what I think.


QUEERTY: How did Takei get involved?

ALLAN: Takei was a natural choice. The right to marriage is personal to him, as he and his husband were married in California during the brief window between Prop 22 getting struck down and Prop 8 getting voted in. He’s an outspoken advocate of equality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or race. You can see that advocacy in his upcoming Broadway musical, Allegiance, about the Japanese internment camps of WWII. Also, he has a flat-out gorgeous voice. So we approached him, and he was enthusiastic.

QUEERTY: Did you get married in any other states after the doc? Will you remarry in Cali?

PAT: We had a lovely legal wedding in Maryland that was officiated by the equally lovely Allan!  It was groovy and fun and romantic. Allan’s wife Jennifer — who married us in Massachusetts in the film — sang my vows for Stephen and a young friend of ours named Dan Tracy sang Stephen’s vows to me.  I cried… imagine that?!

STEPHEN: We’ve begun planning weddings in Maine and Minnesota; the other states will follow, including California.  I suggested that our next California wedding be catered by In-N-Out Burger, one of my favorite things about California.

QUEERTY: What inspired you to tell this story?

ALLAN: Stephen and Pat’s love is beautiful. It’s what every couple should hope for. They are so charming, funny and lovable that their story would make a great movie, even without the historical context. But it happens that they’re engaged in one of the biggest debates of our generation, so I’m incredibly honored that they entrusted me to help tell their story, and I just did my best to do it justice.


QUEERTY: Which was your favorite wedding?

STEPHEN: Every time someone asks me this, I pick a different wedding.  They are like children and each one deserves to come first, at some point.  They were all special and all unique and all important.  Today I am really feeling it for Massachusetts.  This was the first state to have Marriage Equality; it is the state that started the ball rolling.  The ceremony was elegant, the surroundings were warm and cozy, the food, the cake, the dancing, the music, the wedding party – it was a memorable night, but, for me, especially today.

PAT: Gun to my head, I have to say that our Jewish ceremony in Iowa has such a special place in my heart.  Marci was the friend to marry us and has known us the longest.  She knew us both before we were “PatnStephen.” The blessings, the music and in a deleted scene from the film, she serenaded us with a rare Stephen Sondheim song, “The Two of You” as a surprise. This song truly typified her relationship with the two of us.  Beautiful!

You can download Married and Counting via iTunes here.

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