When Roxy and Jordan Davis got engaged in 2009, Proposition 8, banning gay marriage in their home state of California, had recently passed. Instead of saying "I do," both decided, "we won’t" until everyone had the right.
"It was a very easy decision to make," said Roxy, 29.
Jordan, also 29, said he couldn’t bring himself to justify that gay people were "excluded from this system — and that sucks — but I’m going to take advantage of it."
Gay marriage was legalized in California in 2010, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide officially ended Roxy and Jordan's boycott, and they rushed to the Sacramento county clerk’s office to finally say their vows.
They knew the decision could come down that Friday but weren’t sure if they’d get married immediately or wait until family and friends could travel for the ceremony.
But "in that moment when they read that decision, I was just so overcome with the need to celebrate it that I said, 'yeah, let’s do it. Let’s get married,'" Roxy said.
"One of the big things we were trying to do was show our support,” Jordan added.
While it's unclear how many couples made similar commitments, Stuart Gaffney, the communications director for Marriage Equality USA, said the stand taken by pairs like Roxy and Jordan didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
"We have taken much encouragement from straight allies who have realized that the freedom to marry is not specifically a gay rights issue, it is a human rights issue," Gaffney said.
And that was the point Roxy and Jordan set out to make. Instead of getting married, they registered for a domestic partnership, in hopes of demonstrating that a civil union does not come with the same perks of marriage.
Jordan, a law student, said their status under the domestic partnership was constantly "in flux." While marriage offers more than 1,000 federal benefits, rights and protections, according to the U.S. Government Accounting Office, the benefits afforded by civil unions vary by state.
"It was a learning experience for us. It was a learning experience for our family," said Jordan, who along with Roxy, admit they likely faced only a small fraction of the challenges faced by gay people before same-sex marriage became the law of the land.
"We experienced a tenth of the obstacles," Jordan said.
Still, Roxy, who is an instructor at a re-entry program for ex-offenders, said the couple could tell their decision made an impact on the people around them. Jordan’s "dad has become more open to [gay marriage]. I don’t think it was something that he ever really thought about before we took this on," she said.
Carrie Landers and Philip Lee also wanted to spark conversations about marriage equality. The Dayton, Ohio, couple met 16 years ago and the two have been dating since 2002, but decided not to get engaged until their gay friends had the option to get married too.
"I think it forced conversations with family members and acquaintances," Landers, 33, said.
The couple’s decision to wait is still acting as a vehicle for Landers to explain to people why they felt strongly that all people should have equal marriage rights.
Landers and Lee, 35, quickly, and quite casually, decided to get engaged Friday after the Supreme Court decision. Later that day, Landers penned a piece for the Dayton Daily News, in which she wrote: "We often take for granted those rights and privileges guaranteed to us as Americans — until today millions of Americans were treated as second-class citizens, unable to enjoy what the rest of us had taken for granted."
A co-worker stopped by Landers’ office to congratulate her. "He had read the article and he said, 'I had never thought about it that way,'" she said.
"That’s why we did it," Landers said.
Another reason Landers and Lee waited to get the wedding ball rolling — or bells ringing — was that they realized the actual ceremony and reception might be inconsiderate to their gay loved ones, most of whom live in Dayton.
Ohio was one of 14 states in which gay marriage wasn’t legal until the Supreme Court ruling.
"We have so many friends who are gays and lesbians — it always felt kind of weird to ask them to celebrate a choice that they couldn’t make," Landers said. "Everybody should be able to stand in front of their friends and family and say 'I want to love this person forever.'"
Landers, who works in advertising at Cox Digital Marketing, and Lee, a freelance writer, no longer have to worry about throwing a party that they felt some people wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy.
They plan to get married in October so that all of Landers' "gigantic" family can attend, she said.
"We waited 13 years. We can wait a couple months," Landers joked.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who officiated a week of same-sex marriages for free after the Supreme Court decision, has offered to marry the couple.