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51. Because We Blazed the Trail for Gay Marriage

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Madson: So we went to Provincetown, where we’d had our first “honeymoon,” in August 1970. We kept it a secret. It was about us.

Dietz: Although we hope whatever we do will benefit the community at large. To know a couple who have been together so long can be inspiring, especially because we look so marvelous. If we looked haggard, it wouldn’t be so inspiring.

Madson: We got married at the Pilgrim-landing site—so much for the Puritans.

Dietz: We were stunned and happy.

Madson: And then it was over. We’re married. It’s two in the afternoon. What now?

Dietz: Now we just wait for death.

Madson: I mean, after 38 years, how much more married can you be?

Dietz: It’s not that I feel different per se, but when it’s such an ingrained societal thing—that you never think you’ll be part of and have even felt defensive about—well, to be able to do it then is a very transforming experience. It’s invigorating.

Madson: I feel less changed by it, though I have to tell you I was lying in bed the next morning and just for a minute I was thinking, What the hell have we done? Before we could have just said a messy good-bye.

Dietz: Now we’d need a messy divorce.

Madson: But everyone in my family was thrilled. My most conservative sister burst out crying when I reached her at work.

Dietz: Not my mother. She said, “Well, if that’s what makes you happy. But isn’t life complicated enough without all this mishegoss?”


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