STORIES: David & Larry

David & Larry: Varnum Plaintiffs

To many people in Iowa, David Twombley and Larry Hoch are a symbol of marriage.

But a decade ago, when the couple met, neither really considered marriage a possibility, let alone imagining they would be thanked over and over for helping others marry.

“My parents had a wonderful marriage and my brother had a wonderful marriage, and I was naive enough to think everyone had a wonderful marriage,” says David. “And it was something I never thought I’d have.”

It was 2000, and David, newly retired, had just come out to his brother. He thought his brother was upset and unsupportive, so he went online for advice. He found a post from Larry, a new retiree who’d just had the same experience.

“We both mistook their response as being judgmental,” Larry said. “Wrong. Both were just surprised.”

Even though their worry was misplaced — both brothers are fully supportive — the fateful post had a different importance: The couple has been together ever since.

In a collection of ceremonies still common for same-sex couples, Larry and David exchanged rings in 2001 and traveled to Vermont for a civil union in 2002. They contemplated a wedding in Canada, but as Larry says, “We’d had enough symbolic ceremonies.”

All that changed in 2005 when Larry and David signed on to the landmark Varnum v. Brien lawsuit.

“We wouldn’t have missed it for anything,” David says. “It was quite a journey.”

Including David and Larry in the lawsuit was significant simply because their situation did not affect anyone else. Unlike the other plaintiffs, the retired couple did not need each other’s income or health benefits, and they don’t have children.

“We just simply wanted to get married because of our emotional desire for it,” Larry says.

More than a year later, the couple still gets excited and emotional talking about the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision in Varnum that paved the way for marriage equality in Iowa. There were some clouds that day — like an appearance by Iowa Family Policy Center director Chuck Hurley — but the outpouring of love and emotion when the decision was announced at a press conference (watch footage below) shined far more brightly.

“People talk about how brave it was,” Larry says, “but it was a totally right thing for us and our commitment was immediate and wholehearted.”

“It’s really humbling when people say, ‘We owe it all to you and Larry because we’re so happy,'” David says. “I say we didn’t do that much, but I’m so glad to be involved and know I helped someone else get married.”

The couple smiles at each other as Larry adds, “And we always read the marriages in the newspaper now.”

 

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