Like many gay and lesbian couples, Robbie Heacock, 32, and Stephen Durst, 26, stayed up late Tuesday night to watch the state's election results. They cried when they realized they would be able to get legally married.

When the pair sent "Save the date" cards for their June wedding, they included a card reminding guests to vote for Question 6. Heacock said it resulted in "the big eyeroll" from some folks.

"This is the year politics had to be involved in our wedding," said Heacock, an administrative coordinator at the Johns Hopkins University.

Older couples who met when society was less tolerant of same-sex relationships are used to navigating the tricky evolving politics. Pat Montley and Sally Wall of Lutherville have been waiting a long time for their home state to grant same-sex marriages — 33 years.

Montley, 69, a retired theater professor and playwright, and Wall, 66, a professor at Notre Dame of Maryland University, marked their 25th anniversary in 2004 by getting married in Canada.

"Of course, when we came home, it didn't make a difference," said Montley. "It didn't make a difference in our lives, in our rights, or how people viewed us."

The couple, who met when they were on the residential life staff at Goucher College, recalled the anxieties of the early days of their relationship.

"When we were young, we lived in fear that we would be reported on by the neighbors. We lived in fear that our families would disapprove of us, which they did," said Montley. "We lived with the realization every day that our relationship was not viewed as being as worthy as the relationship between a committed and heterosexual couple."

Now, Montley said, the neighbors are supportive and friendly and most family members have come to embrace the couple. Montley and Wall aren't sure if they will have a wedding in Maryland or throw a party to celebrate their commitment.

But, said Montley, there is one thing of which they are sure.

"Now we can say we're married and it means something," she said. "We don't feel like second-class citizens any more."

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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