Cynthia Kristensen and Jan Friedlander had waited to legally celebrate their love for one another for 26 years; so waiting outside for a few extra minutes in an early-morning May Day snow shower didn’t bother either of them very much.
The Castle Pines couple, in their 60s, was one of two waiting for the Douglas County Clerk and Recorder’s office to open at 8 a.m. in Castle Rock in order to partake in the county’s first civil unions on the day they became legal in Colorado.
A doctor and a real estate broker, the couple met through friends in San Antonio in the late 1980s and connected immediately, both laughing and saying “yes” when asked to recall if it had been love at first sight.
They moved to Colorado in 1990 so Kristensen could open a private medical practice and while thrilled homosexual couples finally have the opportunity to enjoy the same benefits married couples oft take for granted, they said they hope to eventually wed.
“I didn’t ever think I would see this day,” Friedlander said. “We are thrilled to be able to do it, but it’s kind of like the treatment that blacks had when they weren’t allowed to marry. It’s separate but ‘not’ equal. Hopefully someday, we can be married.”
Maybe then, they will have a huge ceremony filled with friends and family, but on the first of May, their ceremony – albeit sealed with a kiss – was an unaccompanied stop on the way to a conference call for Kristensen and a day at the office for Friedlander.
Plans did call for a “fabulous bottle of wine” with a helping of Kristensen’s famous Shrimp Hunan after work, and there is a honeymoon trip, destination unknown, on the horizon. But after being committed for so many years, Kristensen – who wore her mother’s wedding ring at the ceremony, while Friedman donned a blue bracelet given to her by her brother – said it was just nice to finally be recognized as a couple.
“We’ve had to cobble together all the things like wills and property agreements that come together under the umbrella of marriage,” she said. “We did it all piecemeal.”
“(Before), in the event one of us had died there was always the risk that the family of the deceased would just exclude the partner,” Friedman added. “So in addition to affirmation of the commitment, there’s the protection.”
While the couple had already protected themselves legally on things such as end-of-life decisions, money and home, Friedman said, it was a matter of sitting down with an attorney and looking at all the different items that the marriage umbrella covers and doing separate documents on each one to make sure they were protected.
“Now it’s part of the law,” Kristensen said. “I think it’s wonderful. Things are changing. … With younger people, it’s just part of their lives and they don’t see us as any different. Even conservative people our age, you’re starting to see that on a case-by-case basis they really don’t care. I think it helps society become stronger.”