Deb and Ann Cox met 25 years ago and have been a committed couple for almost as long. But it wasn’t until they decided to get legally married in 2015 that Ann finally told her family she’s a lesbian.
“My sister said, ‘It’s about time — I’ve been waiting for you to call and tell me this,'” says Ann, who is 70 years old. “When my brother came to our wedding he said, ‘I love you, bud. I don’t care what you do.'”
Deb, who is 63 years old, wasn’t really out to her family, either. “We thought they knew more than they did,” she says of their families.
Despite having been together all these years, the couple says the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage changed everything for them.
“It forced me to come out to my family,” Ann says. “I wish I’d done it a long time ago.”
Deb says she looks at her rings every day and feels amazed. “I feel more normal — there’s no other way to say it,” she explains. “I’ve been dreaming of a big wedding all my life and didn’t even realize the sadness I had for giving it up. Not having to give it up — being able to live that dream — has changed me inside.”
The couple, who lives in Waterford, Michigan, met in Indiana and moved to Michigan in the late 1990s. They had a commitment ceremony in 1999, which Ann thought would be the closest they’d get to being married in Michigan. “I got surprised,” she says of the marriage equality decision.
An associate pastor with Metropolitan Community Church Detroit, Deb performed many marriage ceremonies on March 22, 2014, the one-day window when Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban was overturned before a stay on the judge’s decision was put in place, prompting action at the Supreme Court level.
“I called Ann to see if she wanted to get married and she said, ‘No, I want to do it when everybody else can do it,'” Deb says. “That’s what equality is all about. Waiting until everyone has the right. That’s what we were fighting for and I’m glad we waited. The ceremony and marriage were a dream come true.”
The couple is looking forward to the Ultimate LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo hosted by Between The Lines, where Ann has worked in advertising sales for 13 years. Michigan’s LGBT community will come together to celebrate marriage equality — and all the moments in their lives together. There’s no doubt the event will reinforce the happy memories of their wedding last year.
“The one that sticks out in my mind the most was two of our little flower girls from Ann’s family,” Deb says. “They stood between us and sang, ‘Ann and Deb, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g!’ They wouldn’t move until we kissed. I was blown away, because it was just normal to them.”
About 1,000 attendees are expected at the Ultimate LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20 at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. The event will feature 125 vendors, a fashion show, prizes, entertainment and more. Tickets are $10 each. Learn more or order tickets online at btlweddingexpo.com. For updates, follow http://www.facebook.com/UltimateLGBTExpo on Facebook, @BTLexpo on Twitter and @BTLEXPO on Instagram.
Interviews with Deb and Ann Cox and other LGBT couples are available on request. Contact Kathleen Kennedy Ferris: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-418-4898