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“It feels like a nice thing to do every now and again, just to recommit ourselves,” Swartz said.
“But, of course, the flip side to that is, as nice as that is emotionally, it doesn’t have a lot of weight practically.” The wedding likewise served as a stopgap of sorts. Thanks to the wedding, Swartz will qualify to draw Stewart’s federal retirement benefits should he die first.
But she had always been his mother by choice, the law seeing her as just an acquaintance.
Stewart’s family was rockier on his sexual orientation and his relationship with Swartz.
“I didn’t have a very strong support network except for him.” They describe their relationship as rooted in stability.
They never married, even in an unofficial capacity, though they had several commitment ceremonies on cruises and at Athens PRIDE, the annual LGBT celebration.
Swartz’ family was particularly excited for the ceremony, his mother included: She would finally, formally, be mother-in-law to Stewart.
For years, she and the rest of the Swartz clan had welcomed Stewart into the family.
He and other family members also showed public support on Facebook, Stewart said.)The two instead married on a brisk September morning without fanfare.
They were a couple with a lifetime together, rushing through with marriage plans to take advantage of DOMA’s fall. It’s just that we’ve never stood in front of a congregation and said, ‘I do.’ We never got that piece of paper.” The two met in the early 1990s in an America Online chat room dedicated to the partners of those with AIDS.
He had invited his brother over Facebook and email, only to eventually hear that he had “tentative beach plans.” None of his family had planned attendance otherwise.
(However, the same brother later donated money to Stewart’s Athens AIDS Walk charity.
It wasn’t marriage as many know it, with big parties, dancing and the smooshing of cake into faces. Both of their partners at the time had the disease. They talked throughout and started a life together about a year-and-a-half after meeting online.
It was marriage buffered by signs reading “Marriage licenses are non-refundable” and warning against throwing rice in the Montgomery County, Md., courthouse.“I feel already married,” Swartz said before the trip to a courthouse three states away. They met face-to-face after Stewart’s partner died. “The tremendous thing about it was that Brett was there for me and very, very, very supportive,” Stewart said.