STORIES: Lenny & Paul

Lenny and I have known each other since we were kids. Lenny was 12 and I was 13 and we lived in the same neighborhood. The first summer we met, we spent hours together but when Lenny’s family moved away, we lost touch. We reconnected 30 years later and have been together ever since.

Lenny and I were married on June 11, 2011 at West End Salvage in Des Moines by Lenny’s father, Lowell, an ordained Baptist minister. Our wedding was a ton of fun, and we had over 200 people in attendance. The ceremony was very important to me because I had my children alongside both of us and some of our best friends. Lenny has always been involved in theater, so a bunch of our friends put together a flash mob and sang ‘Marry You’ during the service. It was a great surprise for all of the unsuspecting guests.

What made the evening really special for us was how many of our straight friends attended and how many of them realized the impact of the 2009 marriage decision on our lives in a very real way. It was an eye-opener for many of our friends who saw us, finally, as equal in marriage.

One of our friends sent me a note after our wedding which was very heartfelt:

I wanted to thank you two for changing the way I think about same-sex-marriage and your community in general. In all honesty, I have been pretty close minded for the past 34 years, and I just didn’t realize to what extent. That actually changed a little bit the day I found out about Paul, and also a little bit more the day I met Lenny.

I want you to know that you changed this Iowa boy forever, and probably a few others as well. For the good, and I thank you for that. I feel honored to have been a part of it, and I’m glad you two are who you are. It’s inspirational, and refreshing and it will continue to bring a smile to my face for many, many years as I reflect back on that occasion.

Married life has been incredible so far. I am married to my best friend and our vows have made us stronger, especially the vow to honor each other in sickness and in health. On December 7, 2011 Lenny had a brain aneurysm. I called 911 and Lenny was rushed to the emergency room at Methodist in Des Moines. Lenny’s father, Lowell met us at the hospital, and I am so thankful that he was there with me. The surgeon came in and told us what our options were in terms of surgery. Lenny wasn’t very coherent, so I had to try and explain what was happening and next steps. He went in for surgery the following day. On December 17th he had post-op issues including hydrocephalus and vasospasms, which were so scary.

We were Life Flighted to Iowa City for a couple more procedures. Thankfully those procedures went well and we were released to Younkers Rehab at Methodist on the 30th of December. Lenny was released for Outpatient Therapy on January 3rd. The area of the brain that was affected by the aneurysm is the portion that controls language so now we’re dealing with aphasia. Thankfully, his recovery has been swift. We’re still doing Speech Therapy several times a week but things have progressed extremely fast.

He’s getting better each day, and they tell us this will eventually subside and he’ll be back to normal in time. The reason I wanted to share this with you is mainly due to the fact that we were married last June, and had we not been married, I would not have been able to make some of the decisions that needed to be made on his behalf for his health.

After having been through something like this I am amazed at how well we were treated both here and in Iowa City. This was a true testimony to our having equal marriage rights and being able to function within the medical system on behalf of each other.


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