Sinjoyla Townsend and Angelisa Young are holding gay marriage’s golden ticket—-a commemorative place-holder signifying that they are officially the first same-sex couple to file their application for marriage in the District of Columbia. The couple strolled into D.C. Superior Court this morning at 6 a.m., expecting to file in behind a mass of waiting couples. They were the first pair to show up.
Symbolic victory has never been this easy—-three hours later, the couple would exit the courthouse, free cupcakes in hand, just a few bureaucratic stamps away from being legally wed. Really, they’ve been waiting 12 years for this moment.
Like many gay couples, Townsendand Young’s relationship history hasn’t followed the traditional script: meet, fall in love, get married. For them, it was more like meet, fall in love, get married, wait around for half a decade for society to come around, then get married again—-this time with all of the legal benefits. Unlike some of the other couples gathered here today, Townsend isn’t worried that her newfound right may soon be snatched away from her through legal challenges. “I’m just excited!,” she says. “I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. It’s not in my nature to sit back and wait.”
The District couple began considering marriage in 2002, and though they couldn’t legally be married in the area, they didn’t wait. In 2005, Townsend, 41, and Young, 47, exchanged vows at La Fontaine Bleu in Annapolis, Md., a popular spot for local wedding receptions. “It was full-blast,” says Townsend. “Very similar to a traditional wedding—-bridesmaids, the maid of honor, tuxedos, the whole deal.” Once they claim their finalized marriage license in a few days, Townsend and Young will stage a second ceremony on “a smaller scale.”
When the couple leaves the courthouse, a crowd of supporters will be waiting for them. Also gathered outside is a throng of protesters who think that Townsend and Young should never have been granted the right to hold a gay wedding—-much less two. “People have their rights,” says Townsend of the detractors. “But today, it’s about us, and our marriage.”