In October 2007, a mutual friend encouraged James to place an ad online and that’s how they met, although John acknowledges that their friend could have just as easily introduced them in person.
John is originally from the northeast (NY area/Rhode Island) but grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. James grew up in west Texas.
They were married legally in a small ceremony on the campus of Georgetown University (John’s alma mater) by the Rabbi who was there when John was a student. They followed that low-key event by throwing a big, joyous formal Jewish ceremony in front of 350 friends and family in Richmond on June 5, 2010.
“I used to think it didn’t matter what it was called as long as we had the same rights,” John muses. “Now we agree that we won’t have the same rights until we have access to the same status and also that anything less is separate but unequal. We were both married to women before, the mothers of our sons, and we don’t feel any less married to each other now than our ex-wives are to their husbands. Our religion has blessed us, and we don’t want someone else’s religious views to infringe upon our religious and civil freedoms and equality.”
While not locals, they have put down roots in Richmond. John came in 1990 and James in 2005. “The youngest of our sons graduates from high school next year, so the world could be our oyster,” John says. “But James loves his job, and I often tele-commute, so staying here would be ideal.”
John is an attorney working for a nonprofit research institute doing economic development and James is the head women’s volleyball coach at VCU. They have two sons, David, 23, who lives and works in Washington, DC; and Carlton, 30, in Richmond, who just married his fiancee, Yue Liu, on February 2.