Gay weddings pioneer legally marries partner of 20 years


Moms Amy and Kathryn legally wed in a City Hall wedding in Washington, D.C. after 20 years together

Kathryn Hamm, owner of and coauthor of Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography, and Amy Walter, political analyst and national editor of The Cook Political Report, married on November 2, 2013, in Washington, D.C. after a 20-year partnership.

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Kathryn and Amy first married on Labor Day Weekend in 1999, but now they’re finally able to pull in some of the legal benefits of marriage now that they’ve legally wed with a second wedding.


Their 2013 wedding was a way for them to achieve more legal benefits. “To me, marriage is a civil right,” says Kathryn. “It’s a set of government-sanctioned benefits. But, being married to someone—or committed to someone—is a lifelong investment of work and love. Amy and I had our wedding in 1999 and that was when we made our promises to one another and I have honestly felt “married” to her since then. We wouldn’t have had another ceremony had it not have been something we needed to do in order to get the legal benefits, which, I might add, are still only partial benefits for us since our home state—Virginia—does not recognize our marriage.”

While their first wedding held more traditional trappings of a wedding, their second was much more relaxed. “We felt strongly that this was more of a punctuation mark and a legal necessity, not the wedding. That, we feel strongly, happened back in ‘99. We would have had one aisle in a garden ceremony but Hurricane Dennis drove us inside. We did have a friend trumpet us with humor down the aisle as we were escorted by our siblings—she played two rounds of “Here Comes the Bride” with a big pause between the two. As favors then, we did offer personalized water bottles for our Bride Ride, a bike ride, and croquet tournament. We didn’t have bouquets, cake or a traditional first dance. Basically, we only did what we thought felt right to us as a meaningful ritual for our commitment and celebration. So we avoided most wedding traditions unless we saw a meaning in it or an opportunity for humor.” For the first wedding, the brides wore dresses and slacks and sweaters for the legal marriage. “I liked to call our most recent style, ‘courthouse casual!’”

For their 2013 marriage, Kathryn asked a friend of hers from college, who also is a judge for the D.C. Superior Court, to officiate. “We did it on a Saturday morning at the courthouse and then walked a few blocks for a delicious barbecue lunch. […] I think Amy summarized it best during a toast. For our legal marriage ceremony, there were more wrinkles, more gray hair and more kids!”

Perhaps most touching is the way Kathryn and Amy incorporated their son, Caleb, 7, into their wedding. “We added in a sand ceremony to reflect our commitment as a forever family since our son was too young to remember his adoption ceremony. It was really powerful and, call it a mother’s intuition, but I get the sense that something internally shifted in him as he understood our commitment as a family and his role in it in a new way.”


What Kathryn loves most about Amy:
I love Amy’s sense of humor, kindness, willingness, playfulness and wisdom. She is a perfect foil for me. And, I think that perhaps my most favorite thing about her of late is watching her parent our son. It’s a joy to experience that side of her!

Amy on marriage—with or without the legal trappings:
“Our friend Renee said it best: ‘Marriage is about loving and serving each other and always putting the other person first. This doesn’t mean losing yourself and your individuality. Instead, by putting the needs of your partner first, you actually bring out the best in yourself.’”

Kathryn’s advice to other couples:
“I suppose that advice might be different whether one is planning a first wedding or a legal elopement. Even so, the basic advice I offer to anyone, of any age and of any sexual orientation who is getting hitched is to be thoughtful about the kind of ceremony you want to have and then build a ritual that is meaningful to you. It’s your day so you should be doing what you want to do and inviting the people you want to invite. And, finally, I would say that I do feel that it’s important for same-sex couples to have a ceremony—legal or non-legal / large or small—especially if they are of my age cohort or older. The validation of the experience and the power of the moment are both incredibly healing and powerful. It’s worth every bit of investment you’ll make along the way!”

What Amy loves most about Kathryn:
“I love how willing Kathryn is to put her heart on her sleeve. She fights for what she believes in, even when she knows that she could be deeply disappointed and hurt. And, even then, she never stops believing that she will be able to make a difference.”


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Photographer: Carly Fuller Photography
Day-of Wedding Coordinator: Ruby King
Reception: Hill Country BBQ
Transportation: Wheel The People pedicab
Officiant: The Honorable Marisa Demeo
Invitations: Paperless Post

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