By Cynthia M. Herrera
After dating more than four years, Monica Alvarado and Leigh Young began talking in early June about getting married — not knowing that just weeks later, the Supreme Court would legalize same-sex marriage across the nation.
Marriage makes them feel equal to other couples, Young said.
“You can say ‘wife,’ not ‘my partner,’” they said simultaneously.
“Because it’s like no one uses that term except for gay people, you know,” Young said. “Who says that? Except like for a business partner, so it’s like I don’t necessarily want to use that; I would rather say wife. And now there is no argument about that, that it’s real.”
The couple has four cats, two cars and a newly minted marriage license.
“Even though that document will legitimize our relationship, it doesn’t make us love each other more than we did, but I do feel like it’s a difference,” Young said.
Alvarado, a 29-year-old software designer, is the former president of Northeast Lakeview College’s Outloud, now the Gay-Straight Alliance.
Young, 39, is an engineer at an automotive manufacturing facility in San Antonio.
They wed Sept. 19 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Thirty guests attended the wedding, conducted by a justice of the peace.
They would like to honeymoon in Canada so they can visit Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seattle.
Alvarado went to Virginia to attend Hollins University 2004-2006. She then came back to San Antonio to study business at Northeast Lakeview College 2008-2010.
She transferred to the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2011 and graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in information systems.
Young graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
They met on the online dating site OkCupid and dated for 4 1/2 years, discussing their life plans before getting engaged.
Although they said they agreed to get married, Young admitted she was the one who popped the question. They went ring-shopping afterward.
“We both went to the jewelry store,” Young said.
“To pick up the rings,” they said together.
“It wasn’t a surprise. It was a joint asking each other to marry,” Young said.
“And me asking ‘are the rings ready yet? Where are the rings? They said three weeks,’” Alvarado said, laughing.
They said being married feels the same yet different.
“It feels the same, we still love each other and we still live together and we still include each other on neutralized decisions,” Alvarado said.
Because of their age gap, the experience they had in coming out was different.
Alvarado said she came out in high school, Young said she came out after college.
“Mine was later and I think that’s probably common for people my age,” Young said. “Like people didn’t come out in high school at my age, and I didn’t really come out till after college. I feel like you can tell the difference in the ages of people or kind of guess on when they came out. It’s starting a lot younger now, and it’s better accepted.”
Young said people who are gay should let friends and family know, if they haven’t already because it makes it easier. She also said they should feel comfortable in their environment.
“I think it’s hard the longer you wait,” she said. “Do it earlier than later. It does get harder.”
The couple said they had planned to marry in Denver before the Supreme Court ruling June 26.
The 14th Amend-ment to the U.S. Constitution now requires all states to issue licenses for same-sex couples and acknowledge them as married.
Alvarado and Young were at work that day and said friends passed them the news.
“People were excited,” Young said. “I mean everyone at this point has friends who are gay or family members who are gay, and I think that the majority of people are happy.”
They said they have not encountered any discrimination because they are gay.
“We never had any issues,” Young said. “I guess we’re lucky because obviously a lot of people do now. Even though it’s legal to get married, that still doesn’t mean that everyone is welcoming with open arms, but we luckily have not had any issues while we’ve been together.”
Alvarado said the only problem they had before marriage was adding each other’s name to car titles to get a discount on car insurance.
“We couldn’t consider ourselves married since we couldn’t even get married,” Alvarado said. “Like there’s no way we could be like, ‘Oh, we’re married; we can do this.’”
They said they did not have any problems from county clerks on the Friday they went to get their marriage license.
“There didn’t seem to be any reservation or anything like that from the clerks in the office,” Young said.
As the couple sat on the couch in their home, their front neighbor’s children were playing and yelling outside. The couple agreed simultaneously they did not want to have any children.
“It’s not for us; we have so many cats,” Alvarado said, chuckling.
Young pointed her chin toward the window.
“You see those kids that are over there?” she said. “We can see them, they’ll start fighting and crying here soon. … And then the parents will just be like ‘uhhh’.”
Alvarado stroked a black cat that lay across their laps on the couch.
“That’s good enough,” Alvarado said.