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  • Sarah and Carlie’s Wisconsin and Chicago Weddings

    Like many of us in states that have not allowed same sex marriage for long, or that still don’t allow it, Sarah and Carlie married twice: once for love, and once for legality.  The best part is how amazingly different their weddings were! Here’s their story, as told by Sarah.

    My wife Carlie and I were married in a beautiful wedding in Milwaukee, WI in September 2010. We didn’t care that it wasn’t legal. We really wanted it to be a day that we shared with friends

    We also wanted our friends to be a big part of making our day special. Our photographer, DJ, and Officiant were all friends of ours. My brother and his girlfriend, both of whom are classically trained musicians, performed and arranged the music.  They put together a rad mix of popular songs, including Michael Jackson and Usher, played on cello and violin.

    We chose to have our wedding at the Botanical Gardens so that we wouldn’t have to worry about flowers. The location is also a beautiful venue and they allowed us full access to the entire gardens for the night. Since the gardens are all located indoors, we had access to nature without having to worry about the weather. The booking agent advised us that the Fall Show would be going up on the day of our wedding, so we would see the show before the public. The agent failed to mention that it was a Halloween show that year! Although we imagine that the rest of the weddings that were booked after ours would be upset, we were beyond excited to have a headless horseman overseeing the ceremony and to take pictures aboard the pirate ship.

    We moved to Chicago, IL a couple years later, and Illinois legalized gay marriage just this year. We waited until our anniversary and planned to go down to the courthouse. Since my wife is turning 30 in December, I wrote her a list of 30 things to do before she turns 30, which included eating at Hot Doug’s, a Chicago hotspot that closed its doors in the beginning of October. Since we had already taken the day off, we decided to stop by Hot Doug’s (famous for their long lines) in the morning before going to the courthouse.

    But then, after 4 hours in line, we ended up marrying at Hot Doug’s! A friend of ours became licensed online while waiting in line, another friend ran to get us champagne and balloons, and my mom picked us weed bouquets.

    We twisted our arms together with hot dogs while wearing the shirts we had made for our bachelorette party four years earlier. It was all fairly hilarious.

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  • Daniel and James

    Daniel is not a club-goer and Daniel prefer to do anything else than go to a noisy bar or gay club where he can feel like he have to look or act a certain way. Daniel never felt comfortable or like he could be himself which is the reason why he understand that thousands of other gay men like him don’t like being in the scene.
    Daniel identify his value, he is so hardworking and intelligent, then he was looking for a partner who will marry him so the search begins, he had to join some gay communities that align with his values. There are plenty of activities that align with Daniel value in the USA like hiking, yoga, video game clubs, art studio and seminar at college and high institution.
    On a summer holiday Daniel going to these place and event he came across a gay like himself, this gay man was also perfect, calm and good looking at first sight Daniel was carried away so he put himself together, then after the event he went to the gay man whose name was James, and they interacted and exchange their mobile numbers.
    After so time, James started developing a strong feeling for Daniel and he had no choice then to let Daniel know his feelings towards him and they both accepted each other and starting their courtship, this courtship went on smoothly because they both loved each other, so this lead to their marriage. Daniel and James got married and everything was going on well with them.

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  • Same Sex Domestic Violence - the Truth Behind Closed Doors

    Living in a bubble of a stable, happy lesbian relationship, I found it hard to believe that Same-Sex Domestic Violence (SSDV) existed between lesbian couples. After all, as both partners in the relationship are female I foolishly imagined that this would eradicate domestic violence altogether. I thought that two females should be able to live in perfect harmony. Therefore, you can imagine my utter amazement when I started to stumble across facts that 25% of same-sex relationships suffer from domestic abuse; that's the same percentage as heterosexual couples. 

    Perhaps I owed my naivety to the fact that the whole lesbian and gay community shrouds itself in the myth that because we have same sex partners we do not have abusive relationships. I only have to look at the online accounts of real women who have experienced physical, or verbal, abuse to know that this is untrue. I think it's about time that we admit that SSDV does exist, if only to help those that are suffering. 

    SSDV - Removing the Blindfold 

    I think I was also blindfolded into imagining that domestic violence only took the form of physical or sexual abuse. Now I know, after researching the subject more thoroughly, that there are several forms of domestic abuse that need to be taken into consideration. Many, if not all of them, have one goal and that is that your partner, the abuser, wants to maintain control over you. I have summarized the main forms of SSDV below. Please read them carefully, especially if you believe that you may be a victim of SSDV but aren't sure that the way that your partner is acting, or treating you, is a form of domestic abuse.

    • Physical abuse - where your partner physically hurts you. This could be kicking, punching, slapping, etc.
    • Sexual abuse - where your partner forces you to have sex or take part in sexual acts with other people that you would not normally consent to.
    • Emotional abuse - where your partner makes you feel afraid or continually puts you down with words. It may seem as though she is constantly trying to humiliate you.
    • Social abuse - where your partner limits your contact with friends, family, and even any social groups. This can leave you with a complete feeling of isolation.
    • Financial abuse - where your partner controls all of your finances against your will.
    • Stalking / Harassment - where your partner / ex partner follows you, or harasses you, and won't leave you alone.

    Is It Happening To You?

    If you can relate to any of the forms of domestic abuse stated above then you are a victim of Same Sex Domestic Violence. Even if you have only been hit once, or your partner has only subjected you to emotional abuse once, you should still proceed with caution. Domestic abuse has a cyclical nature and once the abuser has lashed out, they will become a model partner for a while, but then something will trigger their behavior, tensions will rise and SSDV will take place again. I know that it's hard to make the recognition that your partner is an abuser; you have put all of your love and trust into this person and it's difficult to break away from that. It's easier to think that it will be fine and things will get better - but, in reality they probably won't. The sooner you make this realization the closer you are to getting help. 

    What Can You Do?

    I can imagine that being the victim of SSDV - Same Sex Domestic Violence - can be very isolating, particularly if your partner has encouraged you to cut off ties with close friends, or you don't know any other lesbian, or gay people, that you can turn to for advice. The first thing to realize is that there are people out there willing to help you: 

    1. The police - many forms of domestic abuse are illegal and if your partner is being violent, or sexually abusive, then involve the police. At the end of the day it's only what she deserves. Don't be afraid that the police will be homophobic, or laugh in your face, as they should be trained to treat SSDV in the same way as heterosexual domestic violence. Some police forces have Gay and Lesbian liaison groups, with specifically trained personnel to guide you through such issues. 
    2. Lesbian domestic abuse help lines - even though they may be few (and far between) at present, help lines specifically for lesbian victims of domestic abuse do exist. They will be able to talk you through your options and help you to determine a course of action. Many of the staff at standard domestic abuse help lines have been trained how to deal with lesbian couples, so don't think that you have to search for an exclusively lesbian line. Choose whatever you feel comfortable with. 
    3. Domestic abuse shelters - If you really need to get out quickly then domestic abuse shelters will be able to help you, too. Choose one that is sensitive to LGBT (Lesbian; Gay; Bisexual; Transgender) issues and you will be on the right road to ridding yourself of a violent and volatile relationship. 

    Don't blame yourself for things that have taken place. Don't belittle yourself any more than she has done already. Just remember that it's not your fault and that there are groups, associations, and people out there that will be willing and able to help. I suggest you pick up the phone right now.

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