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Patrick G. Gill
(March 29, 1967 - June 23, 1997) U.S.A.

Patrick G. Gill

Sued D.C. government for a marriage license


After meeting in a New York gay bar they cultivated a long-distance relationship until moving in together, when Patrick transferred from the University of Richmond to Marymount College.

Dean and Patrick were not practiced advocates when they applied for a marriage license in November 1990. Dean had just graduated from Georgetown University's law school. Patrick worked in the men's accessories department of Macy's, selling pens and umbrellas.

But Dean was "young and brash and ambitious and forthright," said their lawyer, William Eskridge Jr., and Patrick, though less publicly confident, was "charming" and a "babe." They made for a model case, Eskridge said. "It was really the first lawsuit of this new era," said Eskridge, a Georgetown law professor at the time who now teaches at Yale University.

In November 1990, after 4 1/2 years together, Dean, then 27, and Patrick, then 23, attempted to get a District of Columbia marriage license. Like other gay activists who support the right to marry, Dean and Patrick say that in addition to the societal respect and recognition that marriage bestows, they want the legal advantages of civil marriage, such as automatic inheritance, the right to decide on medical care for each other, and the other responsibilities and freedoms gained by being someone's next of kin.

It was 1993, and Dean Craig, 29, and boyfriend Patrick Gill, were celebrities after suing the city of Washington for denying them a marriage license. They'd been on CNN, were profiled in The Washington Post and sat on Oprah's couch.

Craig & Gill
Dean Craig (left) and boyfriend Patrick Gill (right)

Just filing for the marriage license made many established gay groups angry. Some thought the pair was asking for too much and feared a backlash. Lambda Legal Defense Fund executive director Tom Stoddard called their challenge "shortsighted." Washington was "probably the worst jurisdiction in the country" to try to legalize same-sex marriage, said Stoddard, an influential advocate. Let other places do it first, he urged, then come back to the city.

The same day he filed the suit, however, Dean was laid off from his job as a lawyer for a Washington firm. He had informed his bosses about his legal plans and there seemed to be no trouble, but although he was told he was being let go for purely business reasons, he says in a voice heavy with suggestion, "The timing seems really odd." Now he's looking for a new job.

Of course, the Roman Catholic Church is not likely to bestow that sacrament on Patrick, and his parents themselves remain severely uncomfortable with his desire to draw comparisons between his gay relationship and their heterosexual one. "They think we've blown it all out of proportion," says Patrick, "and they were afraid for us. My mother has said she's trying to deal with it, trying to understand it, but it's very difficult. My father is still in a state of shock. It's been a second coming out for them."

Dean didn't back down, drawing motivation from the time Patrick was rushed to the hospital and Dean hurried to the emergency room, only to be told he couldn't see his partner. If they were married, things would be different, Dean thought. So he researched the city's laws and was convinced nothing in the code prevented them from getting married.

The lawsuit went on five years. Ultimately, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled against the pair. District laws were never intended to let gay couples marry, wrote Judge John Ferren. His colleague, John Terry, also a sitting justice, was more blunt: "They are, of course, free to refer to their relationship by whatever name they wish. But it is not a marriage, and calling it a marriage will not make it one."

For Dean, the defeat was personal. For his boyfriend, he believes, it was crippling. Patrick had AIDS, and the travel and the pressure of the case affected his health. In fact Patrick died just over two years after the court decision. He is buried next to Dean's father in a Long Island cemetery.

"It all started because Pat and I love each other," says Dean. "A marriage license is important because it's going to protect our relationship within and without. By not fully asserting ourselves and trying to get the license, we would be agreeing with society that our relationship is less than other marriages. We would be giving in to our own homophobia."

And thanks to the heady lights of cameras and whir of tape recorders, they have bloomed into self-conscious Public Figures, suddenly savvy in the ways of the media and increasingly certain that they have a place on the national stage. They send out press releases. They talk about a "community looking to us for leadership" and "the eyes of the nation" focusing on their case.

Dean suggested recently to a local TV news reporter that he conduct an interview at home rather than in a studio because it would "humanize" the story. Both are given to dropping such lines as, "It's like Oprah said..."

"We've set a goal for ourselves and that is to get married," says Dean, "so it seems the media attention is a venue to reach our goal. Also, we're causing a great amount of consciousness-raising in the American public, I think. It just happens we're two men involved instead of a man and a woman. We're trying to show our relationship is no different from any other -- or is as much like any other relationship as they can be alike."

They could not see together the day when the law for same-sex marriage was issued. In fact Patrick died for AIDS related complications. He was just 30 years-old.


Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/ & others

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