Gay couple shares story of their road to marriage
As the island discusses the matter of marriage equality, one individual shares how he and his partner had to travel off-island in order to marry.
Joe Benevente proudly said, "I am married to Simon Querimit - Simon and I have been together for seven years. Before we opted to commit to each other it was a bumpy road, but we stuck together with our family support we were able to come together and get married." Joe and Simon are the parents to two sons - Calvin and Carter. And while they celebrated their one year anniversary last month, like many same-sex couples on Guam they couldn't exchange their vows on island instead they had to travel off-island in order to make their dream of matrimony a reality.
"We just decided to do it on our own terms we just wanted to keep it between family and friends and everyone that knew about it were so happy it is just so sad that we had to travel off-island," he recalled.
In order to get married they traveled to Waikiki, Hawaii, which cost them a pretty penny. Benavente said, "Being from Guam we wanted to still have that island feel, so we did choose Hawaii. We got married in Waikiki, which is also one of the most expensive places in Hawaii, so of course we had to save financially just to meet that dream. But nonetheless there is no money in the world or the amount it is going to cost for this happiness, so we just went and we did it in Hawaii."
And because it was very costly only a few family members who live in Hawaii were able to witness their union, it left Joe and Simon wondering what their marriage ceremony could have been like if they were allowed the opportunity to marry on Guam. "I am sure it would have been a wonderful feeling to get married here in front of all of our friends and family to witness our vows and have the traditional wedding that you would typically have when family get together and share the moment with you," he said.
He says to have marriage equality on island would give other same-sex couples the experience that he and his spouse were not afforded. "We are all residents of Guam, we all grew up on Guam, so of course we would love to marry out here. This is our island, this is our home. We are taxpayers for this island and this territory so we feel we should be given that equal right and opportunity to go out there and make it as well as well as everyone else is we are just as human," he said.
He says that the happiness of individuals should not be decided by others and for those who oppose same sex marriage he shares it is a basic human right to share that happiness with the person they choose that should not be influenced by other people.