Tuesday was the 10th wedding anniversary of Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf, the first gay couple to be legally married in Quebec, about a month before marriage equality came to Massachusetts. In a recent interview, the couple reflected on the fight to the altar:
POP TART: Your court case began on Nov 8, 2001. Over the next few years, what was the most difficult part about this legal battle and journey?
Hendricks: Putting up with the “know-it-all” lawyers we had at first who tried to dictate to us what we should do and say – very politically ill-informed people, with wacky ideas and enormous egos. But we were really lucky once we got rid of them and built a legal team that respected us and, in the end, carried the day in the Quebec Appeals Court. They attended our wedding as honoured guests. … As for the myth that “the gay community” is rich and paid for everything – they paid around $7,000 out of the $300,000 [in lawyer fees]. There was a lack of support from the LGBT community in general until we started to win. Then they were all over us like a cheap suit. We quickly learned what the term “Success has many parents while failure is an orphan” means. For example, one “community” lawyer pleaded for civil unions in court which led the Chief Justice of the Quebec Appeals Court, Michel Robert, to ask him during the hearing for which side was he arguing.
POP TART: How did you guys feel when you finally won?
Leboeuf: Thank god, it’s over!
Hendricks: We were tired after 6 years of constant hostility, constant fundraising, putting up with whacky lawyers and with sniping by members of the community – many of whom, incidentally, now take credit for having won the marriage battle and have gotten legally married after telling us for years how they rejected it in favour of civil unions. …
POP TART: How important do feel your 10th wedding anniversary is, both personally and publicly?
Hendricks: Personally, after our first 30 years together, 10 years is nothing. Nothing really changed in our everyday lives except our legal affairs which, as a couple, are now straightened out. Publicly? At the time we were talking about moving a mountain. But today, 10 years later, SSM is accepted – trivial in fact – and forgotten. That’s perfect, exactly what we hoped would happen. Today, gay and lesbian adolescents generally think that marriage always existed for them, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve back in 1998.
(Image: Hendricks and Leboeuf at their wedding on April 1, 2004, via Wikimedia Commons)