Sign in / Join

Pioneering plaintiff wants DC’s 1st gay marriage

Craig Dean’s first wedding was attended by thousands, and as he recited his vows, gay couples behind him on Constitution Avenue echoed their own.

It was 1993, and Dean and boyfriend Patrick Gill headlined what was billed as the largest gay marriage ceremony at the time. Dean, 29, and Gill, 26, were celebrities after suing the city of Washington for denying them a marriage license. They’d been on CNN, were profiled in The Washington Post and sat on Oprah’s couch.

And though they lost their landmark case, the city last month finally did what it had refused to do back then: Legalize marriage for gays and lesbians.

Dean, who now lives in South Carolina, said he cried when he read the news.

“They owe me a marriage license,” he said.

The measure still has to survive a review by Congress, which has final say over the district’s laws. Lawmakers appear unlikely to intervene though, so gay couples could be marrying in Washington — legally this time — by March. It would be the sixth place in the country where gay marriages are allowed. And Dean, who carries bittersweet memories of his and Gill’s pioneering effort, wants the first spot in line.

Gill died in June 1997, just over two years after the court decision against the couple.

“Whether it became legal or not, he was my husband,” Dean said. “If anything, it was a marriage in the way we lived our lives.”

His current partner, photographer John Blevins, told Dean not to cry when the district passed its law last month; he should be proud. Blevins and Dean met several months ago on a blind date, but their romance has moved fast. On Christmas, Blevins put a ring in Dean’s stocking and asked, “Would you do the honor of marrying me?”

“Yes,” Dean said, as long as he gets a real Washington wedding.

— AP

Leave a reply