GA Voice - - Faith & Religion -

There’s al­ways been a picket fence in your fu­ture.

You could just pic­ture it: charm­ing spouse, two-point-five kids, mini­van, Cape Cod with man­i­cured lawn, birth­day par­ties on the pa­tio, all sur­rounded by that picket fence. It was a per­fect dream of a bliss­ful life. And, as in “The Wed­ding Heard ‘Round the World” by Michael McCon­nell with Jack Baker, as told to Gail Langer Kar­woski, mak­ing his­tory would be a nice bonus.

As a child play­ing with neigh­bor­hood girls, Michael McCon­nell re­mem­bers want­ing the same thing they wanted: to grow up and marry a hand­some man. Their crushes were his crushes, too, but in the 1950s, that kind of thing wasn’t dis­cussed.

By the time he en­tered col­lege at the Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa in the mid-1960s, how­ever, McCon­nell had come out to his fam­ily and was com­fort­able with his sex­u­al­ity. He met other gay men and en­joyed an ac­tive so­cial life on cam­pus and then, on Oc­to­ber 29, 1966, he met Jack Baker.

For the first min­utes of their get-to-knowyou, McCon­nell thought Baker was much older, or per­haps straight. Baker’s de­meanor was busi­nesslike, al­most mil­i­tary; McCon­nell had re­cently had his heart bro­ken, and was guarded. Still, by the end of the evening, they were lovers; soon af­ter, they were a cou­ple.

By the early 1970s, though their re­la­tion­ship had to be kept qui­eter, McCon­nell and Baker were “out” enough to want to make real change. Baker, a Min­neapo­lis law stu­dent, filed suit against the U.S. mil­i­tary over an un­fair down­grade in his dis­charge sta­tus. Af­ter fol­low­ing Baker north, McCon­nell fought job dis­crim­i­na­tion. And then there was the wed­ding Baker promised McCon­nell on Baker’s 25th birth­day. It would hap­pen—they just had to fig­ure out how.

That would take some time, but Baker was on it. His le­gal train­ing tick­led his me­thod­i­cal mind, un­til he dis­cov­ered two loop­holes the state of Min­nesota hadn’t closed. One led to the next, and both led to their his­tory-mak­ing wed­ding in 1971.

That, of course, isn’t the end of the story.

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