Nate and Debbie’s Story

wedding We have supported marriage equality for years and are honored to be an Equality Virginia ally and to share our wedding story with you. We feel that marriage equality for all only makes our own marriage stronger. [caption id="attachment_3595" align="alignright" width="300"]Sara Nate's sister Sara[/caption] We met at an outdoor screening of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” held on the National Mall.  Since our families are both in upstate New York, we were married in Albany, NY on March 18, 2007. We have a personal connection to our commitment to full marriage equality: Nate’s sister (who was killed in a sky diving accident in 1997) was a lesbian and in a committed relationship at the time of her death.  Our wedding invoked Sara’s memory throughout the ceremony. (The prayer shawl around Nathan was purchased by Sara in Israel for his bar mitzvah.) During Nate’s toast he again invoked Sara’s memory and used part of his groom’s speech to advocate for marriage equality. He cited Jewish law and principles that teach that as long as one person is enslaved no one can be free. This message is a central part of the Passover celebration that occurred two weeks after our wedding. He added that he did not think it was right for us to celebrate our wedding while his sister would not be able to do the same.  He encouraged his guests to contact their elected representatives if they agreed with him and had arranged with Empire State Pride Agenda for brochures and legislative contact information to be available at the reception.  We also used part of our wedding gifts to make a contribution to Empire State Pride Agenda’s lobbying campaign in Sara’s memory. We heard that Nate’s speech offended a couple of the more conservative friends of our parents.  None of them approached us directly and if they did they would have to challenge Nate’s religious beliefs and his filial love and duty against their bigotry and narrow-mindedness.  We were however personally thanked by a number of people including LGBT guests, parents of LGBT people, and their friends. In addition, three family members have come out since our wedding. Our son Isaac was born four years ago and following Jewish tradition we named him after Sara’s memory.  We plan to teach him about his namesake and that in her name he should continue to seek and demand justice. We feel confident that in a few years we will be able to celebrate Isaac’s wedding irrespective of the gender of his spouse or the state in which they are living. We wish Equality Virginia and all of you Godspeed to the day when that can happen.

- Nathan D. Ainspan, Ph.D. & Debbie Ann Doyle Ainspan, Ph.D.