Mark and Ryan: Tell Hawai`i our love matters

September 11, 2013

Now that a special session to pass marriage equality has been called, it means the wait might soon be over for same-sex couples Mark and Ryan, who have long wanted to share in the freedom to marry in Hawaii – the state they call home. Read their story now and click here to see more profiles of Hawaii couples who are ready for marriage equality.

Ala Moana, Hawai`i

For most couples, wedding planning is a time of joy, hope, and the promise of a bright future together. Families come together, friends show their support, and excitement builds for months. For Mark and Ryan Manz however, this was not the case.

Living in California at the time, the couple would be terribly impacted by the passing of Prop 8, which eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in California. “I had decided I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Ryan on October 26, 2008,” Mark said, “Sadly, I needed to move quickly, as the Election was nearing and polls were showing a virtual tie regarding marriage equality. When I proposed to Ryan, I explained I had talked to his family and the wedding was planned for next week due to the election,” Mark stated, “he was shocked at how fast we needed to move.”

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Mark and Ryan were one of the lucky couples that were able to exchange vows in California. The couple married in San Francisco the day before the city was no longer authorized to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. “Our wedding was rushed, we had it at San Francisco city hall.” Mark explained. “Our best man and Ryan’s mom were in attendance. I had asked Ryan’s mom for permission to marry her son the week prior, and we were so thrilled that she gave her blessing and was able to attend the ceremony.”

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The couple relocated to Hawai`i in 2011, where their marriage is not recognized by the state. “We talked about having kids, but now we have to hold off due to our marriage not being recognized by the state of Hawai`i,” Ryan explained. Ryan, who has had minor health issues in the recent years, is worried about what the removal of their marital protections could mean if his health does not improve. “It’s a scary thing, in the back of your mind always thinking, what if?” Ryan said. Since the Supreme Court struck down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and extended equal protection under the law to all legally married couples, the weaknesses of a civil union have become clearer than ever. Hawai`i couples like Mark and Ryan  are denied access to the federal safety net because our legislators have not yet extended the freedom to marry to all loving couples.

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Mark and Ryan, who have been together since 2007, know that their choice to make a commitment to each other in marriage is very special. “We deserve the honor to say freely ‘that is my husband’, and have it legally recognized by Hawai`i,” Mark stated. Hawai`i lawmakers are currently considering a special legislative session to pass marriage equality immediately. Numerous elected officials and Governor Abercrombie have shown their support for passing the freedom to marry without delay.

“Our love matters,” Ryan gushed. “It is time for Hawai`i to agree, and to honor our commitment, love for each other, and desire to start a family. Living in a state where the path to the freedom to marry is ‘almost there’ is not good enough. We have something special.”

Click here to urge the Hawai`i representatives to pass marriage equality in the upcoming special session.