It's up, up and away for Houstonians Jeff Robertson and Jeremiah Pyant as they ready for the hot air balloon ride of their lives, traveling across the Texas state line to wed as a same-sex couple in New Mexico, where gay marriage is legal.
The partners are one of five winners nationwide in the recent My Big Gay (Il)Legal Wedding contest sponsored by the ACLU and hosted by fashion guru and television personality Tim Gunn. The online voting competition began with 25 same-sex couples who had dreams of fantasy weddings but found themselves in a patchwork of state marriage laws.
"We'll ferry a hot air balloon over the state line and have our officiant legally wed us thousands of feet above New Mexico."
Contestants with the best ideas of how they'd cross state lines to tie the knot walked away — and, next, down the aisle — with $5,000.
"We plan to use the $5,000 to travel to El Paso," Robertson tells CultureMap via email. "We'll ferry a hot air balloon over the state line and have our officiant legally wed us thousands of feet above New Mexico. Once landed safely in New Mexico, we plan to celebrate with a champagne toast with family and friends."
Robertson says the landing site is yet to be determined, but the date is quickly approaching: The week of April 29.
"This contest was fitting for us because it describes our daily lives," he adds. "Jeremiah is a flight attendant and daily he flies from state to state, meaning our marriage status is forever changing. One moment we are legally recognized and completely void the next."
A YouTube video of Robertson and Pyant's surprise marriage proposal went viral earlier this year and brought in well wishes from across the country. Robertson was super stealthy sneaky (and creative) in his arrangements to make the big engagement step happen on the couple's annual trip to Mexico.
They are already making plans for a big wedding bash in August 2015 in Robertson's home state of Wisconsin, with invitations for all of their family and friends.
The other My Big Gay (Il)Legal Wedding contest winners are:
- Jeromy Manke and Brian Jensen of Reno, Nev. — Jensen, a hair stylist, and Manke, a human resources consultant, have been engaged since June 2012 and plan a California wedding at nearby Lake Tahoe.
- Tamara Sheffield and Maryja Mee of Salisbury, N.C. — They've been a couple since meeting in college 24 years ago and have become activists to legalize same-sex marriage in North Carolina.
- Humberto Niebla and Rafael Vasquez of Paradise Valley, Ariz. — The two, who have been dating for six years, expressed hope of having a 1920s-themed beachfront wedding in California.
- Megan and Lindsey Smith of Chattanooga, Tenn. — Megan, a real estate agent and insurance broker, and Lindsey, a nurse, met three years ago and since then have founded an advocacy group called Tennessee Marriage Equality. Smith also recently changed her last name as a show of commitment; she had entered the contest as Lindsey Wagoner.