D.C. gay couple caps a momentous first by tying the knot

By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 9, 2010; 1:05 PM

They met in grad school. Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend were assigned to debate opposing sides of the same issue in a constitutional law class at the University of the District of Columbia, and both were so nerdily over-prepared -- typical Washingtonians -- that the other member of their group decided the debate was a draw.

Young felt the attraction first. Throughout the semester, she found excuses to pass Townsend fliers for the political activist group that she belonged to on campus; she was devastated when she later found those fliers left behind after class. She would go to watch Townsend shoot hoops, even though she hates sports.

"She would be reading books at the game," Townsend teases. Young would come into the gymnasium in her girlie high-heeled boots, in clothes completely ridiculous for a basketball court.

Young protests: "I was trying!"

One night Townsend called Young, having recently realized what Young already knew. In the middle of a conversation about schoolwork, she said tenderly, "Every sunflower needs rain to grow. Would you be my rain?"

Young, who had long since given up on Townsend understanding the significance of her appearances at the gym, was confused. She thought, "This has nothing to do with the case" they had been discussing.

That was 12 years ago. They have tattoos on their wrists now: Townsend's says "Sunflower" and Young's says "Rain."

On Tuesday, they got wedding bands as well. In a morning ceremony at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters, in an airy room filled with family, friends, yellow roses and cello music, the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in the District of Columbia, was also among the first to be married.

"When I think I can't love you, respect you and cherish you any more, tomorrow comes," Young said, in vows she had written herself.

"When you call I will respond," Townsend replied. "You are my rock, my life, my love."

After the ceremony, they emerged from the building, faces stretched into delighted grins. "I don't have a political platform," Townsend told a gathering crowd. "I just wanted to marry Angel."

Everyday people

Young and Townsend don't know why anyone would want to read about them. They're boring people -- a community outreach coordinator (Young) and a D.C. government supervisor (Townsend). They read, they shoot pool, they go dancing -- less now, with Townsend's bad knee -- they walk the dog. Townsend, 41, paints and has filled their Southeast Washington home with art. Young, 47, is a bubbly Lucille Ball type. They complement each other. What more is there to say?

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