Same-sex couple celebrates first wedding anniversary
Polk County case in front of the Iowa Supreme Court
Published Thursday, 04-Sep-2008 in issue 1080
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Looking back on their first year of marriage, Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan speak of their new puppy, visits with friends and division of labor – Fritz does the dishes and McQuillan handles the laundry.
They also speak a bit more reluctantly about their status as Iowa’s only legally married same-sex couple.
Since their marriage on Aug. 31, 2007, during the single day when same-sex marriage was legal in Iowa’s most populous county, the men have become something of a spokescouple for the issue in the Midwest. McQuillan said that public role is difficult, but he knows it’s important.
“We’re doing this because we have a responsibility. There’s people we know who would like to get married and I feel like it’s more of our civic duty ...” he said. “And if we’re the people to actually do it that’s fine, but I wouldn’t want to wish it on anybody else.”
Although their first anniversary is approaching, the legal standing of the men’s marriage isn’t entirely secure.
Their marriage was prompted by Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson’s ruling that a state law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman violates the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection. McQuillan and Fritz were the only couple to get married before Hanson stayed his decision. Now the case is in front of the Iowa Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is expected to hold oral arguments in the fall and could issue a decision next year. Just what could happen to Fritz and McQuillian’s union is unclear, and will depend on the wording of the court’s ruling.
Since getting married in a hastily arranged ceremony on a Des Moines minister’s front lawn, surrounded by reporters and photographers, Fritz and McQuillan have moved on with their lives.
Fritz is in the process of changing his last name to McQuillan, and this summer they held a small ceremony at the Des Moines Botanical Center in front of family and close friends.
“We did the best we could considering the circumstances last year, but it really does make a difference having your family there to listen to you say the vows,” said McQuillan.
Fritz, 25, is working for a technology company in Ames while 22-year-old McQuillan finishes his bachelor’s degree in linguistics at Iowa State University.
Fritz said they have become closer as a couple in the past year.
“You stop thinking six months in the future if we’re still going to be together,” Fritz said. “It’s more five, 10 years from now where are we going to be moving into and getting a house? It’s a different perspective on how you approach planning.”
Despite their forced celebrity, the men said their past year has been relatively quiet. They have spent time with friends and family, played fetch with their Welsh corgi puppy, Lola, and just hung around home.
And they have divvied up household chores.
“It’s still a work in progress, but the house is regularly clean now,” said Fritz.
As the case moves through the courts, McQuillan and Fritz said they’re hopeful other couples will be allowed to experience the transformations only marriage brings to a relationship.
“There’s so many other couples that can’t be married and what bugs me the most is there are other couples just like Sean and I ... who just don’t have the condition that they are full citizens,” McQuillan said.