This story was initially created as part of the Marriage Equality Movement Family Story Quilt which premiered at San Francisco City Hall on National Freedom to Marry Day in February 2007, honoring the historic Winter of Love and the 40th anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court Loving vs. Virginia decision. These family stories -- created in 2007 -- now have many updates, babies have been born, many couples have gotten legally married in California in 2008, some have divorced, some have won historic union battles and so much more ... stay tuned for updates!
Stuart Gaffney & John Lewis
- We celebrated 20 years together in 2007
- Our families have Chinese, English, Irish, Welsh, and German heritage
- We live in San Francisco, CA
For nearly as long as we can remember, we each wanted to meet someone to fall in love with and start building a life together. For us, it happened in 1987, when we met at a neighborhood election party. When we met, John felt as if he had already known Stuart forever. To this day, when we visit old places from Stuart's childhood, John feels like he was there with Stuart. And even before our second date, Stuart had already told his best friend from college, "I've met my future husband."
When we married at San Francisco City Hall on February 12, 2004 after 17 years together as a loving and committed couple, we felt for the first time in our lives that our government was treating us as equal human beings. Subsequently, the court ruled that our marriage was null and void. Since then, we have been working to educate our fellow Californians about the importance of equal marriage rights.
This is not the first time our family had found itself in the center of a historic civil rights struggle for equal access to marriage. Stuart's mother, who is Chinese American, and father, who is white, were only able to marry over 50 years ago, because the state's ban on interracial marriage was overturned. Stuart's mother remembers how one of her classmates at the University of California had to leave the state to marry her white fiancé before the law was changed.
After their wedding, Stuart's parents traveled across America and lived in many different parts of the country. When they moved to Missouri, they were disturbed to learn their marriage was illegal and void in Missouri because that state still prohibited marriages between Chinese-Americans and whites.
But everywhere Stuart's parents went, they educated people about interracial relationships by their very presence as a loving couple. We too have traveled across America as part of the coast-to-coast Marriage Equality Caravan to do the same -- to show that our common humanity is the basis for marriage equality across the land.
Like our parents before us, we simply want the freedom to marry the person of our choice and to have the same rights, recognition, and responsibilities for our family that all other loving and committed couples enjoy. Today, all of our parents want nothing more than for their son and son-in-law's marriage to be legally recognized, just as their other children's marriages are.
It is unthinkable today that we would have laws barring interracial couples from marrying -- someday soon it will be unthinkable that loving, committed same-sex couples like ourselves are unable to marry in most states.
The exhibit has toured extensively and is now part of an ongoing exhibit called THE LOVING QUILT 2010: A People's Living History - and Herstory - of Marriage Equality & Family Justice Movements
A Project of Marriage Equality USA in collaboration with NUMEROUS creative individuals & community, state and national organizations.
Maya Scott-Chung, MPH is the Creative Director and Curator of THE LOVING QUILT 2010 which was created during 2006-2010 as part of Maya's Masters in Public Health/ Community Health Education Thesis at San Francisco State University.
For exhibit booking and further information contact Maya: firstname.lastname@example.org (510) 381-0876
THE LOVING QUILT Webpage: www.marriageequality.org/quilt