In October, long-time partners Dawn Haltom and Lana Sutherland decided to make it official. “Over the twenty years we have been together,” Dawn said, “we talked on and off about getting married. At first, we contemplated just having a commitment ceremony, since we couldn’t have a legally recognized wedding. We’ve always wanted to have some sort of public acknowledgement of our relationship, which we intended to last for life. After DOMA was overturned, we began seriously considering the possibility of going out of state to get married.”

Having narrowed the date down to sometime in October, the couple decided on Vermont for a number of reasons. “From there we decided on somewhere in New England,” Dawn explained, “since the autumn leaves would be amazing. We had decided that we really wanted to honeymoon in Montreal, so we honed in on Vermont due to its proximity to the city.”

Originally, a couple of longtime friends were going to accompany them as witnesses. “Somewhat unexpectedly, family members indicated their interest in going with us also. We have always felt supported by our families, but we were blown away by the fact they would fly all the way to Vermont for our wedding.”

The Lilac Inn in Brandon, Vermont, was the venue they chose. The Lilac is very experienced with weddings of all sizes, and the town of Brandon has everything one needs. “Gourmet Provence made our beautiful cake. Carr’s Florist did the flowers. The reception dinner was prepared by Lilac Inn,” Dawn said. “Doug and Shelly Sawyer are the owners/innkeepers, and they are amazing. Our wedding officiant was Laura Peterson, a Justice of the Peace.”

Dawn and Lana said they found Vermonters to be friendly and supportive. “They are proud of the fact that Vermont was one of the first states to have marriage equality. When our marriage license arrived in the mail, the envelope was full of rainbow glitter confetti!” Dawn described with excitement.

 

 

Postscript

The license allowed Lana, who took Dawn’s name, to change her name with Social Security and her passport with the wedding license, since both are under the jurisdiction of federal departments. With regard to many other services, the Haltoms faced many of the same difficulties as other LGBT Tennesseans who marry out of state. Unlike straight couples, who may use out of state marriage licenses to handle name changes to make their state issued documents match up with their federal counterparts, Lana had to undertake the process of changing her name through the courts. In Wilson County, the fee for this runs $187, and in a case like Lana’s, this constitutes a marriage tax.

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

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Post-Covid travel planning

Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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