Karen and Sue Kirkhope first met in college, more than two decades ago. With marriage equality now legal in Pennsylvania, the longtime couple decided to make it official and tie the knot.
Karen, 40, from Fairless Hills, is a psychologist for the state of New Jersey and works with adults with developmental disabilities. Sue, 41, from Johnstown, is a shipping/receiving clerk for Swemco. They currently live in Morrisville.
Their first encounter took place after a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania during their junior year of college.
“A mutual friend from Campus Crusade invited us to go out together to dinner and a movie,” Karen said. “We played a lot of ping pong in the dorm lounge together from then on.”
Sue’s parents moved to Florida that summer, and Sue asked if Karen could come for a visit.
“We really connected that summer,” Karen said. “We were separated for a week while Sue helped her parents move and I remember missing her more than anyone else in my life.”
At the end of the summer, the couple decided to commit to each other.
“It wasn’t super-romantic,” Karen said. “I got a cheap ring and proposed inside our dorm room.”
After graduating, Karen and Sue got an apartment and have lived together ever since. While they had discussed marriage, they decided to wait until it was legal in the Keystone State.
“Sue had always wanted to get married but I said I wouldn’t do it until it was legal in the state that we live in,” said Karen. “I didn’t think it would actually happen in Pennsylvania, of all states.”
When same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania last year, the couple was sitting on their couch and saw an alert pop up on their TV screen saver with the news.
“We both looked at each other and said, ‘What?’ and had to check our phones to see if we had misread the blurb,” Karen said. “Of course we hadn’t and we started planning for this year’s wedding the next day.”
The wedding was held June 27 at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Yardley. A reception followed at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Feasterville. The day after the wedding, the couple left for their honeymoon, at a cabin outside Ashville, N.C.
To this day, Karen and Sue say, they cherish the qualities that first attracted them to one another in college.
For Karen, it’s Sue’s charming naiveté.
“Sue still maintains this positive innocence in a sense,” said Karen. “It’s very cute. Even though we’ve been together for so long, it hasn’t lost its charm.”
For Sue, Karen’s outgoing personality continues to impress her.
“Her ability to connect with people translates to her connection with me, and now it’s easier for me to connect with other people too,” said Sue. “People can walk up to her and get her whole life story. It’s always impressed me.”