This particular Sunday started almost like any other.

ThatMomentJay Norris and Doug Fillmore were up early, moving through their regular morning routine. But on this day – the day – Jay was a ball of nervous energy.

He’d already mopped the floors of their Portland home three times, but he ran a dust mop over them again anyway. Doug, ever the calm one in the relationship, watched TV until it was time to slip into his suit and head to the chapel.

“There was a moment of tears this morning,” Jay said. “It’s like ‘Oh, wow. This is my wedding day.’ This is a big thing.”

It had been two weeks since Jay and Doug decided to get married. And once they’d decided for sure – after seven years and countless happy moments together – there was no slowing down the wedding.

In little more than a week, they found a church, met with the officiant and picked up their marriage license at Portland City Hall.


“All that fight to get married and it was incredibly easy to actually do it,” Jay said.

Jay and Doug met online more than seven years ago. Jay, a self-described “mouthy redneck” with a Southern drawl, and Doug, a quiet linguist who served in the Navy, clicked right away.

Jay was living in New York City at the time and traveling frequently for his Wall Street job. Doug, a software engineer, was in Delaware. After talking for months, Doug finally visited Jay in New York.

“He would not leave,” Jay said, grinning widely. “We do well together in our little bubble. I’m an extrovert, he’s an introvert.”

Jay, 46, grew up in a Southern Baptist family from Mississippi. Though he has been open with them for many years about being gay, some family members still won’t speak to him because of his sexual orientation. No one from his family would attend his wedding.

“My father, whom I love and who I know loves me, at one point threatened to force me home to be ‘deprogrammed,’ ” Jay said. His mother once begged him in a letter to reconsider being gay so he could go to heaven when he died.


“I know it came from a place of love,” he said. “It caused a lot of internal struggle for me because I wanted to cling to my faith.”

Doug, 45, grew up in Connecticut. He came out to his parents when he was 30, but didn’t face the same condemnation as Jay, he said.

“I knew they weren’t going to reject me,” he said. Still, he would find himself uneasy about telling his mother he was getting married.

“I didn’t even think that would be an option a few years ago,” he said.

Two years earlier, Jay stood in a sea of rainbow flags and banners on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, an American flag against his shoulder and his hands gripping a sign lettered in red and blue. “I demand the rights my father and my boyfriend fought for,” it read.

It was June 26, 2013, the day the Supreme Court overturned a law that denied benefits to same-sex couples. Jay had left the home he shared with Doug early that morning and traveled alone to Washington. Good or bad, he wanted to be there when the court’s decision was announced.


When news of the ruling spread through the crowd, Jay found himself trembling and crying.

“I just broke down. I couldn’t gather my words,” he said. “This meant my government recognizes me as a full-fledged citizen. I never thought in a million years I would see that day come. It was overwhelming for me, like it was for millions of others.”

Back home in New York, Doug and Jay decided they wanted to move out of the city, to a place where they could get married and feel at home.

They knew Portland was that place from their first visit.

“You very much get the sense that people mind their own business,” Doug said. “No one seems worried about infringing on our happiness.”

They settled into the first floor of a stately Victorian on the Eastern Promenade and made a handful of close friends.


“Being here gave us both the feeling of being home,” Jay said. “People here opened their arms to us without realizing they did it. If I could write Maine a love letter, I would.”

The proposal came a year later, on Cinco de Mayo, when Doug was reading a letter from their insurance company. Jay laughs when he tells the story of how Doug poked his head into the room to tell him the insurance company said it is more beneficial to be covered as spouses than as domestic partners.

“He said, ‘They want us to be married.’ That was basically our proposal,” Jay said. “I didn’t think standing on the Supreme Court steps a few years ago that this would happen for me so soon.”

On the day of the wedding, a silver “Just Married” banner hung across the porch rail, a table nearby lined with champagne flutes. With an hour left until the ceremony, Jay stood in front of the hallway mirror to fix his tie. Doug slipped into his jacket and smiled for a photo snapped by a friend.

In the kitchen, they wrestled their squirming dog, Winston, into a bow tie.

“I spent $22 on a dog tie,” Jay said. “He’s going to wear it.”


On the short drive to the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Doug and Jay chatted with their friend Karen McCabe, who was visiting from Massachusetts. They pointed out their favorite spots and talked about how easy it was to fall in love with the city.

In the wood-lined Emmanuel Chapel at St. Luke’s, they pinned on their boutonnières and greeted with hugs each of the 11 friends who came to witness their vows.

Later there would be champagne toasts on their porch, overlooking sparkling Casco Bay, and a long celebratory dinner with friends. But for now it was just Jay and Doug, standing across from each other, their words filling the chapel.

Doug began, his voice steady and his eyes locked on Jay.

I will support and care for you, enduring all things, bearing all things. …

This is my solemn vow.


And then, finally, it was Jay’s turn.

I will hold and cherish you, in times of plenty and in times of want.

He paused to take a steadying breath. The clouds parted and sun poured through the church’s skylight, illuminating only Doug and Jay.

Jay began again, his voice thick with tears.

I will honor and love you, forsaking all others, as long as we both shall live.


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