Well it’s certainly been an interesting few weeks. I don’t know about you guys, but right now I’m feeling pretty damn tired of all the arguing, and I’m very happy to take this opportunity to focus on the positive and just spend some time celebrating the beauty of love, which ultimately triumphs time and time again, despite all the darkness that remains in our world.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than sharing the love story of my new friend April Sanders, a native Arkansan and assistant professor in the education department of a local college, and her beautiful new bride, Molly Daniel, a local paramedic born in Texas, who were married in a lovely outdoor ceremony in Mobile on March 25.

By the time I met April, I’d already heard enough about her to feel like I almost knew her. We first met in person at the amazing Indigo Girls concert a couple weeks ago, which we attended with mutual friends.

This was my third time catching the beloved folk duo here in Mobile, and while they never disappoint, their spirited June 25 performance at the Saenger, featuring awe-inspiring local artist Kristy Lee, was an especially magical night.

It was a truly unforgettable moment watching the eager crowd of Mobilians — male, female, gay, straight, black, white, what have you — jump to their feet and raise their voices to sing together in a spirit of what I can only describe as a shared feeling of love, unity and hope, as well as a nearly palpable feeling of shared excitement over the much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling, which would already be waiting for us by the time many of us dragged our sorry behinds out of bed the next morning.
The June 26 SCOTUS ruling granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in every state was not necessarily a surprise, but it was nevertheless a powerfully emotional victory for countless homosexual Americans as well as those of us who love and support them. April and Molly were no exception, and the ruling added a final confirmation of legal stability to an already solid emotional union that really required no external validation.

April and Molly first met in Texas, where April was a patron in the Chili’s restaurant Molly managed. The two ladies quite literally ran into one another, when April took a wrong turn on the way to the restroom just as Molly was exiting the kitchen. After a brief exchange of smiles and directions to the ladies’ room, April returned to her table with a grin, telling her friends she had just met the next woman she would love.

They had their first date the following weekend, where they enjoyed dinner and an hours-long chat about anything and everything under the sun, a rich and nourishing conversation that is still going strong more than seven years later.

The happy couple began discussing the possibility of marriage about a year into their relationship, but ultimately decided to wait until their union would receive full legal recognition in their own home state.

It would be years before they would finally enjoy such a basic dignity in not only the state where they met, but also their new home, Alabama, where they live with their beloved babies, an adorable 8-year-old Cocker Spaniel named Jasper and a gorgeous 7-year-old Weimaranar named Seusse, April’s very first Christmas gift to Molly.

When April and Molly first moved to Mobile in 2013, numerous friends warned them of the judgment and intolerance they would likely face in the Deep South. They weren’t sure exactly what to expect, but of all the cities that offered promising career opportunities for April, the vibrant and intelligent young couple fell in love with the quirky charm and character they recognized in Mobile.

The ladies quickly carved out a very happy life here in Mobile, building a rich network of colleagues and neighbors and new friends that already feel more like family. Aside from the not insignificant legal hurdles they have endured as a lesbian couple and the occasional hateful comments they happen to see on the Internet or TV (most of which they choose to simply ignore), the women have found an overwhelming amount of warmth and acceptance in their new community.

Of course there have been a few bumps in the road, including the terribly disheartening experience of being unexpectedly denied their marriage license in Mobile County, shortly after a local federal judge had already granted their right to marry and a beautiful wedding and romantic honeymoon trip to Paris had already been planned and booked.

“I’m not going to lie,” April said of that disappointing day, “that really, really hurt us. It was so painful to think we finally have what we wanted for so long, only to have it ripped from our grasp once again. We tend to be very loving and positive people and we generally try to ignore the negativity around us. But that was one of those days where it really hit us right over the head that, wow, a lot of people really do hate us, simply because of the way we love.”

In the end the couple drove to Pensacola to obtain a legally valid marriage license, and their March 25 ceremony in Mobile went on as planned and was everything they dreamed it would be. The SCOTUS ruling that came weeks later served as icing on the wedding cake, and April is quick to remind us their love story is about so much more than legalities.

“We’re just April and Molly,” she said. “We’re just two people in love, living and learning and growing together, trying to make this beautiful dream we’ve built together last the rest of our lives.”

Congratulations, ladies! Here’s to love, equality and a lifetime of beautiful memories!