For Philadelphia residents Joseph David Miller and Steven Michael Guzman, the month of June will now hold two special anniversaries.
Miller, 53, and Guzman, 31, were joined in a civil union in New Jersey on June 7, 2009, and on June 8 of this year were legally married in the Garden State.
Miller, a female impersonator, and Guzman, an employee of Acme Supermarkets in South Philly, met in 2005, when Miller was visiting his aunt in the hospital.
“I was going to walk from Pennsylvania Hospital and walk down 10th Street to meet a friend, and as I walked, I passed 10th and kept going until I got to 12th Street, as though I was on autopilot,” he said. “Steve was coming down 12th Street and as we passed we both looked back at each other and started a conversation. I asked him out to dinner and he said yes.”
Guzman said he knew from the moment they locked eyes that Miller would be a significant presence in his life.
“I knew from the day I laid my eyes on him that we were meant to be together,” he said.
Their early dates were simple and laidback, nights out for pizza or walks around the Art Museum area.
Miller said that, when it came time to take the next step, the civil-union proposal was both off-the-cuff and humorous.
“I was on the phone with a family member and she was seeing somebody at the time and I asked when she was going to marry them, and she asked the same for Steve and I. I told her that Steve would never propose to me,” he said. “So Steve came over while I was on the phone, got down on one knee and proposed.”
Guzman said he had been considering the proposal for some time.
“He wanted me to ask him in front of his family and I knew there would be a time that I would ask him to marry me but I couldn’t get the courage to ask him because I was afraid he would say no,” he said.
Five years later, the pair was legally married at Knights Park in Collingswood, N.J.
“We had our mothers there and we were married by the Rev. Andrea L. Harrington and had a close, intimate group of friends we had known for years with us,” Miller said.
The pair had considered waiting until marriage equality came to Pennsylvania but, by the spring, decided to make plans in neighboring New Jersey.
“Our mothers kept asking us when we were going to get married now that it was legal in New Jersey and so I waited to see what Pennsylvania was going to do,” Miller said. “We got our license in New Jersey and then my prediction came true in Pennsylvania.”
Miller said it does feel different now that they are legally married.
“Although we have always felt as though we were married, the word ‘marriage’ is more empowering and carries more weight,” he said.
Miller said the relationship has shown him to let the small things go and live life to the fullest.
“I love him with all of my heart,” he said. “I think you learn from each other. Sometimes he knows what I am thinking before I even say it.”
Guzman said the pair always knows how to get through the tough times.
“We have had our ups and downs but we work through it,” he said. “We have arguments but within an hour we are laughing and carrying on. I have grown with him. He is my rock, my world.”