Years turned into decades, and they eventually bought a house together near Annapolis. They felt like a family, but with same-sex marriage not yet legal in Maryland, there was nothing officially tying them together. “We could walk away at any moment. And we never did,” Dan says. “I think that goes back to how we were raised. Both our parents had their first and last marriages. Strong families with strong commitment.” In 2004, they worked through legal avenues to ensure that they were recognized as each other’s next of kin.
Other gay friends had commitment ceremonies or traveled to other states to marry. But Tom and Dan weren’t interested unless they could wed in their adopted home state. “We barely even talked about it before the vote. . . . We didn’t want to get the hopes up too far,” Tom says. In March 2012, when he heard that Gov. Martin O’Malley had signed same-sex marriage into Maryland law, Dan texted his partner of 25 years.
(Evy Mages/For The Washington Post) - Tom Masog, left, and Dan Strachan pose in a gazebo after the ceremony. They have been a couple for the past 25 years.
Married couples reflect on what they would have done differently for their wedding.
“I texted, Well, if this thing passes [the November referendum], why don’t we get married?” Dan remembers. Tom simply replied, “Y.”
“There was no ‘Will you marry me?’ or anything like that. It was just unconventional, like a lot of things we’ve done,” Dan says.
In mid-June, they held a simple civil ceremony in the chambers of Judge Michele Hotten, with about 20 friends and coworkers present. And on July 14, about 70 guests gathered at Celebrations on the Bay in Pasadena, Md., to witness their wedding. Tom, now 57, and Dan, 50, had arranged a weekend of Annapolis-themed entertainment, including a cruise on the bay and a pub crawl downtown, and opted to use only Maryland-based vendors for the event. “Because I believe they voted for us to have it, we owe it to the state to help the economy by spending our wedding money in Maryland,” Dan says.
The grooms donned tan pants and Tommy Bahama shirts as they stood before a sweeping view of the Chesapeake Bay to exchange vows. Under the baking sun of a soupy, humid morning, Dan noted that it had been 9,452 days since their first date. After all that time, he said, “What else can I say? Thanks for the memories? Here’s to the next 26 years? I say I love you more than I could ever imagine. . . . I choose all of the above.”