Recently theknot.com released its “The Best 50 Weddings Across All 50 States” list for 2016.
“To honor our annual roundup of the most wow-worthy weddings celebrated across the country, we searched high and low for the prettiest parties you need to see. From a cliffside California bash to the coolest Pac-Man–inspired nuptials, these 50 fetes (okay, 51—we couldn’t forget Washington, DC) will result in some serious wedding envy.” – theknot.com
Looking through the list, reading the descriptions, viewing the wonderful pictures of the happy couples, some of the weddings looked like downright fairytales and others were down home perfect. What we also noticed was that three of them, weddings in Maine, Colorado, and Nevada, were LGBT weddings.
We reached out to one of the newlywed couples and asked them how it was to be included in the “serious wedding envy” edition of theknot. Fletcher Whitwell, one of the grooms from the Nevada wedding, said it was nothing to be envious about, but instead, people should realize it is now a true possibility for all, but he wasn't just talking about the wedding.
Fletcher and Greg have been together for 18 ½ years and were at last married. Here is their story leading up to the wedding, including the adoption of their first child, Hudson Rae.
Flamer and Whitwell met in Chicago in 1998. Flamer was graduating with a master’s degree from Northwestern University; Whitwell was interviewing for a job. They have been together ever since. In 2007, they moved to Las Vegas, where Whitwell is a senior vice president at R&R Partners, an advertising and communications firm. Flamer works as a supervisor for Clark County’s Department of Family Services licensing foster homes.
“We enjoyed traveling and growing our careers,” Whitwell said. “We always knew family was important, but we weren’t at that time ready.”
By 2010, they decided the timing was right to expand their family. They attended an orientation about adoption that summer and chose a private adoption agency in California that welcomed same-sex couples.
They created a four-page, color brochure about their life and hopes for a family, promising to “provide our child with a lifetime of unconditional love and security.” Their family profile went live online in October 2010.
On Dec. 27, 2010, they received a phone call — from a pregnant woman in a small Oklahoma town. A week later, the woman told Whitwell and Flamer she wanted to “match” with them, meaning verbally commit to choosing them as her unborn child’s adoptive parents.
“The whole process is really up and down,” Whitwell said. “You’re thrilled, but then you don’t want to get your hopes up too much.”
Flamer and Whitwell [were] domestic partners as allowed under Nevada law. But because they aren’t married, Whitwell had to apply for a single-parent adoption in Oklahoma.
During the adoption process, they also had to hire another adoption agency and lawyer in Oklahoma, in addition to the California adoption agency and a Las Vegas-based lawyer. Costs ballooned. All told, they spent nearly $60,000, Whitwell and Flamer said.
Hudson Rae Whitwell — all 7 pounds, 14 ounces of her — arrived on March 10, 2011. Whitwell cut the umbilical cord, and her birth mother signed paperwork days later approving the adoption. The biological father eventually followed suit. Whitwell and Flamer were the hospital’s first gay adoptive parents, they said. The couple, with their newborn daughter in tow, headed home to Las Vegas.
“For the first six months, Fletcher was the legal parent, and I had to carry around a piece of paper that he was giving me permission,” Flamer said. The legal hassle ended Sept. 22, 2011, when a Las Vegas judge finalized the adoption. – lasvegassun.com (may 2013)
“Daddy Greg” and “Daddy Fletcher” adopted another child Sawyer 2 1/2 years ago, but this time in Nevada. I asked Fletcher if they had planned to have a boy and a girl and he said no. "We put on both applications that we did not have a preference of a boy or a girl. Having a family was the important factor." Fletcher mentioned that they always loved children and always wanted to be married but never thought it could be real for them. Getting married would complete the family legally if it happened, but they knew they were in a loving and committed relationship and that was paramount.
So how did they get to be married? Flamer and Whitwell were one of eight couples that filed suit in April 2012 to overturn Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage. It wasn't an easy process, but when it is desired as much as this was, it was worth the fight. “I feel like we’re a very normal family and treated as such,” Flamer said in a previous interview, but marriage was out of reach because of their sexuality. In a statement in 2014, Greg and Fletcher stated:
They worry that, as their children grow up they will be deprived of a sense of belonging and may feel socially outcast because of their fathers’ inability to marry. They look forward to the day when their children can walk down the aisle at their wedding and understand that their parents’ commitment to one another—and their family—is as great as that felt by other couples who may marry. – lambdalegal.org
At the time, they were a three member family, with Greg, Fletcher, and daughter Hudson. They desired to adopt again to give Hudson a sibling, but the obstacles associated with their classification as an “unmarried” couple made them and the process uneasy.
But their desire to be married goes beyond procedures and benefits, they said. It’s symbolic of their love for each other and maybe even a little old-fashioned: They want to raise their daughter and any future children in a married household.
“We’ve flown to every corner of the country going to all our friends’ weddings,” Flamer said. “We’ve seen how wonderful it is for the whole family. That would be nice.”
Once again, we want to congratulate Fletcher and Greg on the union. We thank you for sharing your story with us. I asked Fletcher, if we shared his story, what would he want people to take away from it. Fletcher's great words of hope were that if he and Greg could have this, others could have this happiness, too. Not just the wedding, being able to marry, but also the ability to make a home and a family. Yes, it can be a struggle, and they know that first hand, but it so worth the results. Find a partner, celebrate, live, and love and we all can be treated equally.
Fletcher and Greg's wedding can be found here at A Glamorous Wedding at Red Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
For more on the other two LGBT weddings featured in the list, see the links below.
Lauren Updegrove (33 and a literacy specialist) and Kathryn McBride (33 and a physician assistant) perfectly blended the beauty of Maine and their fun-loving personalities to pull off an unforgettable bohemian bash.
David Justice (37 and a systems analyst) and Jeremy Orr’s (35 and a veterinarian) late-summer wedding in Keystone, Colorado, was a celebration of their love of the outdoors and the natural beauty of Colorado landscape.