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No Doubts: Joseph Demerly and James Bell

photo by Christina Shaw

The First-Ever Artvoice Marriage Equality Issue: Couples Profiles

Joseph Demerly and James Bell

Status: License in hand, ready to marry

Joe Demerly is managing director of the Kavinoky Theatre, and his partner, Jamie Bell, is assistant to the associate vice president for student affairs at D’Youville College, where the Kavinoky is located. Joe talked to us about their relationship.

How long have you been together? How did you meet?

We’ve been together for 11 years. We met online and started an e-friendship by means of bouncing emails back and forth. After a few weeks, we decided to officially meet at a bar. I arrived on time and impatiently waited an hour for Jamie. After leaving multiple phone messages and ready to leave, Jamie showed up. Our very first face-to-face conversation was an argument. We’ve been arguing with each other ever since.

How did you decide to get married? Was it something you considered before the change in state law?

We rarely doubted that we wouldn’t be together forever; like any couple who falls in love, there’s an unspoken certainty that it was meant to be. Six years into the relationship, and after much prodding, Jamie bought me a ring. Although we live close to Canada, take yearly vacations to Washington, DC, and various trips to Boston, we decided that we would wait to get married until (if ever) it became “legal” in our own state.

What’s getting married and having the right to get married mean to you?

We’re making a public vow of our commitment to each other and our love for one another, like any other marrying couple. Same gender couples (in six states, at least) are now afforded the same legal state benefits afforded to different gender couples. The inevitable repeal of DOMA will ensure that same gender couples will receive additional federal protections.

Describe how you imagine your wedding.

On June 24, Jamie told me that our budget for the wedding would be $100! As the marriage license cost $40, we only have enough left over to buy a couple cases of cheap beer and some corn puffs! The rest of the party will be pot luck and BYOB.

In all honesty, we’ll likely have a private civil ceremony in the next few weeks and start planning for a larger “wedding” to take place sometime in the spring. Jamie’s sister is an ordained minister so we hope to ask her to officiate. We’re in the early stages of planning.

How are your families reacting?

We’re fortunate to have supporting families and friends.

Do you two have any reservations about marriage—not about each other, but about the institution?

Many people have jokingly told us, “Now you can be as miserable as the rest of us!” With a smile, I answer back, “Jamie and I have been miserable for 11 years—we just want to be miserable legally.”

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