Courtenay and Matthew make an ideal couple. They are the type of couple that used to make me jealous, because their happiness with each other was what I found missing in my life. They will say that they have had their share of heart ache and that it was pure chance that they found each other. But I think they were always meant to be together.
In many ways, they are the all American couple. Matthew was the high school prom king, the class officer and a football player. He is tall with thick salt and pepper hair, classically handsome features and a ready smile that puts strangers at ease. Courtenay was in the high school choir, trained in classical piano and has an easy laugh and trim figure from years of competitive swimming, a fact that Courtenay is too humble to talk about.
When they are together they play off of each other’s good will and sense of humor. Matthew will tease Courtenay in a way that makes friends laugh, but in his face you can see a love so big that it fills the room. When Courtenay offers Matthew friendly advice he will ask, “What’s your job?” to which Courtenay always replies with a roll of the eyes. “To sit here and look pretty.” Matthew responds “That’s right and what a good job you are doing.” And he completely believes it. You can see it in his eyes. I love watching them banter back and forth.
Many of their friends, myself included, find it hard to believe that they have not always been together, but this is the second marriage for both of them. They both have children and a finer example of parenting can’t be found in my book. They are working hard to send their children through college. They talk about their children constantly and when they mention them, it is never yours or mine, but always ours. Courtenay’s job provides insurance to all of the children, which is important because their youngest child is diabetic.
I was with them on their wedding day and the months leading up to their wedding. Courtenay fretted about every detail and Matthew silently made all of the plans come together. At one point Courtenay confided to Matthew that he might share a little more in the wording of their vows. His response was typical Matthew “Actions speak louder than words.” And Courtenay cried because Matthew’s actions would always be louder and fuller of love than any words.
On their wedding day friends and family gathered from all corners of the country on a beautifully surreal New England summer evening. The sky seemed bluer, the air seemed clearer as if God had created this day just for them. I can still remember their vows:
“I pledge you my love and respect - my laughter and my tears. From this day forward, you shall not walk alone, my heart will be your shelter, and my arms will be your home.”I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowd when these words were spoken, because everyone understood what seemingly insurmountable odds they overcame to become married.
Because of Matthew and Courtenay, I understand the sanctity of marriage. I understand that this is the example of marriage that should be held up as the ideal. I understand this because my middle name is Courtenay and Paul’s middle name is Matthew.
On May 8th the citizens of North Carolina will vote to amend the constitution with words that will not only forbid marriage equality, but would not allow ANY type of recognition between same sex couples. No one should have to beg for recognition of their love. But I am begging my friends and family in North Carolina to show on May 8th that their actions, by voting against Amendment one, can speak louder than words.