Teachers tie the knot following legalization of same-sex marriage

By Jordan Freisleben

Visual Arts teacher Cheri Gaulke and Middle School Library and Technology Department Head Susan Kallok married their respective partners this summer after same-sex marriage was deemed legalized in the state of California.

Kallok, a self-described longtime advocate for same-sex marriage, married her partner of 15 years, Nicki Freeman, on June 18. The couple’s spur-of-the-moment ceremony took place in their local town of Long Beach with only 20 people present. The wedding reception continued at a nearby restaurant.

“I think it’s really important, especially for a couple like us that’s been together for 15 years,” Kallok said. “The only thing separating us was the legality from any other married couple. It was important for us to stand up and be counted. Every little step, every little victory, leads us further down the path of equality.”

“Our initial impulse,” Gaulke said, “was ‘let’s get married as a political statement’, but what happened was it became this really profound event where 250 guests from all parts of our lives came together and witnessed this huge community celebration.” She wed her partner Sue Maberry on July 5 at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalists Church in Pasadena.

Gaulke and Maberry have been together since they met 30 years ago while working for a feminist art organization. Being married at the Neighborhood Church had a “great deal of significance,” she said. The two have been attending the church, which strongly advocates marriage equality, since 1996. One of the reasons they opted to marry at the church was to honor the history of their fight for marriage equality there. Maberry and Gaulke frequently repaired and rehung the church’s banner that states “We Support Marriage Equality, Love Makes a Family” after it had been cut down by opposing locals.

First notified of the law during class, Gaulke jumped up and announced it to her students. She then sent Maberry an e-mail asking “Will you marry me?”

“It’s different getting married, it’s not like we’re these young blushing brides who barely know each other,” Gaulke said. “[We’ve] actually built a life together over time and we have children,” Gaulke said.

Gaulke’s daughters, Xochi ’12 and Marka Maberry-Gaulke ’12, referred to the ceremony as “our” wedding, as it included all four of them.

Both teachers and their spouses plan to support same-sex equalities in the future.