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Fashion guru and Olympic champ are no longer a 'novelty' couple

Gail and Audrey are a New York City couple who are at their happiest since getting married, but still experience systemic challenges as a same-sex couple.
Audrey Smaltz and Gail Marquis.
Audrey Smaltz and Gail Marquis.

Join us in celebrating the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. To gear up for the June 26 anniversary, msnbc will feature couples’ and individuals’ reflections on the impact the decision has had on their lives and the future of the LGBT rights fight in the United States. 

In the last year, marriage equality has come to nine states. Federal judges have also struck down same-sex marriage bans in Idaho, Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin, though their decisions are on hold pending appeals.

No ban on same-sex nuptials has survived in federal court since DOMA’s demise. And, as of this month, every remaining ban has been hit with a legal challenge. Both marriage equality advocates, and opponents alike, believe it won’t be long before the issue is once again before the U.S. Supreme Court, and ultimately legalized throughout the nation.

"Audrey has lived in her New York apartment in Midtown Manhattan for 35 years. We were married in 2011. We are still trying to get my name on the lease. It shouldn't be that difficult ... why must we wait 3 years?"'

Names: Audrey Smaltz & Gail Marquis

Date of wedding: 11-11-11 (November 11, 2011)

City, State: New York, NY

Professions: Audrey Smaltz, 77, fashion commentator, business owner (founder & CEO) of her own company, The Ground Crew.

Gail Marquis, 59, Olympic champion, financial services, director of programs & financial officer for foundations and non-profits.

Have you noticed a general shift in attitude toward the LGBT community since the Supreme Court ruling?

Audrey: Yes. We are not a novelty anymore.

Gail: Someone that you know is gay and you like them and it’s alright! Big deal!

Audrey: I think of a story that Hillary Clinton related at an Human Rights Campaign gala. She said that when she returned home to visit her father, Hugh Rodham, her dad remarked that he wasn’t comfortable with men liking men. Yet, when Hillary asked her dad about Scott and John, who lived together across the road and would often check in on her father to see if he needed groceries or his snow shoveled, etc. Mr. Rodham’s response was, “Oh Scott and John, well those are good guys”. Yeah, dad, Scott and John who have lived together for 20 years are just good guys!

What are the ways in which the DOMA ruling has fallen short?

Gail: The ways in which DOMA has still fallen short are in housing. Audrey has lived in her New York apartment in Midtown Manhattan for 35 years. We were married in 2011. We are still trying to get my name on the lease. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Yes, I can understand wanting proof of marriage, but why must we wait 3 years?

Audrey: There is always the concern of being denied a lease or not having both names on the lease and losing the apartment.

What would you like President Obama and future leaders to prioritize in terms of LGBT rights?

Gail: Issues that President Obama and future leaders could prioritize are Social Security and survivor rights for each of us. Audrey was taking Social Security when we were married.

Audrey: If something were to happen to me or to Gail, we would have difficulty in obtaining each other’s survivor income.  

If you were married recently, how has it affected your lives?

Audrey: When we exchanged vows, you could see it all over my face, I was happy. People are genuinely happy for us. 

What are your hopes and dreams for the next generation or [for your children]?

Audrey: Our hopes and dreams for the next generation is coming and evident today. Young people are more tolerant of one another and a bit laissez-faire regarding same-gender relationships and same-gender marriage. They don’t care about it the way their parents do/did.

Gail: Our granddaughter is in the 8th grade. Of our relationship she tells her mother, “Those two really have fun together!” Like them, we come from love.  

Stay in touch with Gail and Audrey, @GailMarquis1 and @ALSmaltz

Meet Claude Summers and Ted Pebworth, Kicking off #msnbcpride with a couple 51-years strong

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