(1955 - living) U.S.A.
Marriage equality activist
Robert Voorheis grew up in George Wallace's Alabama, where a scrawny gay kid's only chance of making it out of high school without a fight was to keep his mouth shut. He realized early on that he "wasn't the same as them" and got through by forging a bond with another boy in his class who also wasn't the same.
"I don't think they would have accepted a gay kid," Voorheis said about growing up in Enterprise, Ala., in the 1960s and 1970s. "I would have been beaten up or worse. Sometimes, I'm surprised I wasn't."
Robert is a decorator with Nelson & Co. in Manhattan. He and Michel Sabatino moved up as their careers progressed, first to a cooperative apartment in The Greystone on Warburton Avenue in Yonkers in 1982, then to a four-bedroom center-hall Colonial on a cul-de-sac in northwest Yonkers that they bought in 1998.
Michael & Robert met at a West Village bar on Veterans Day weekend in 1978 in New York City's Greenwich Village. In 1979 they had what is now referred to as a Commitment Ceremony in the Washington Square United Methodist Church, a ceremony that the official church does not recognize. In October of 2003 they traveled to Niagara Falls, Canada where, surrounded by friends and family members they were married in a civil ceremony. In the fall of 2004 Robert & Michael had the unusual distinction of being able to celebrate their 1st and 25th anniversaries in the same year.
They have an ordinary life doing ordinary things most couples do. In 1992 they had a 16-year-old foster child for a six month period as well as helped Michael's cousin raise her three children. In their 28 years together they also have cared for Robert's mother who lived with them and was a diabetic amputee until her passing in 1996. They also cared for Michael father who was a victim of Alzheimer's and was blind from Glaucoma.
The local paper, The Journal News, in Westchester County featured them in a front page article titled "The New Faces of Marriage". Not "Gay Marriage", but Marriage. They were also selected to have their announcement printed in the New York Times. One week after later, Michael & Robert were booted out of their Roman Catholic Church Choir. They had participated in this choir as a couple for 20 years. Having been met on the steps by the Monsignor, they were informed that in light of the recent public announcement of their marriage, they were no longer welcome to serve in a public ministry of the church.
It took both of them a year to overcome the distress they felt after the treatment they received. But their voices have not been silenced. After a year of healing they were, once again, singing in Zion Episcopal Church Choir in Dobbs Ferry, where they have been embraced as a couple by the entire congregation. They are currently part of case in NY State for marriage recognition it is at the appelate level currently.
"We love each other," Michael said in an interview in the living room of the couple's Yonkers home. "We have a home together. We have friends and family. We want to be able to tell people we're married. We're proud of the fact that we're a couple."
"That little piece of paper?" Robert said. "There's an emotional attachment to it."
Blog: http:// www.samesexmarriageadvocate.blogspot.com