D.C. Same-Sex Couples on Threshold of Home Turf Legal Union

Some gay couples in D.C. forego getting married in other gay-friendly states to wait for legalization at home.
By Carol Morello
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 11, 2009

When David and Eric Akridge's 6-year-old son, Max, set up a lemonade stand last summer, his fathers encouraged him to donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. "Do something good with it," they said.

Max already had a good cause in mind. He wanted to help make it possible for his daddies to get married, he said.

And so the Human Rights Campaign, the country's biggest gay rights political advocacy group, got Max's $50 contribution for its marriage equality drive.

Max's wish soon might come true. The District is poised to become the seventh U.S. jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriage. Last week, D.C. Council member David Catania (I) introduced a bill that says "any person . . . may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender." Although the measure has generated some opposition, the bill has 10 co-sponsors and is expected to pass the D.C. Council easily.

Catania doesn't expect an avalanche of weddings, although he points out that about 800 same-sex couples are registered as domestic partners in the District.

Many have married elsewhere, traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to destinations selected not for their charm and beauty but for their marriage laws.

But other D.C. couples have chosen to wait. Not because they have no desire for marriage, with its financial protections and security. They wear rings on their left hands, co-own houses and name each other in their wills. But because they wanted to marry here, where they live, not in some distant state where they have no connection. Or because they saw no practical reason to wed as long as the District didn't recognize their unions, which it began doing only this summer. Still others were considering weddings in gay-friendly locales and now are thrilled they might not have to incur the expense and hassle after all.

Aisha Mills and Danielle Moodie, who became engaged in June, are filling a thick planner with lists of caterers, dresses and invitations to their August wedding.

Paul Cooper and Michael Ulrich had a ceremony they call a wedding last year in Florida, a state where same-sex marriage is constitutionally banned. If Catania's bill passes, they will have a legal ceremony here.

David Akridge and his partner, Eric, have been waiting 21 years for the right to marry.

They have been together since 1988, when they met at a rental car company where they both worked. They moved in together a month after their first date on April 23, a date they now commemorate as their anniversary. Eventually they bought a house near Dupont Circle.

"We've approximated a marriage," said David, 42, who works in human resources and finance for a nonprofit group. "We've exchanged rings. Eric has changed his name. We have a child."

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