Blessed Union of Souls
A couple decides to show their love in a very special way-a commitment ceremony!
By qvStaff Roldán

It had been well over a year since Robert had become single again. It was hard for him to imagine himself going back into the QV bar and nightclub scene to meet someone new. Finally, Robert was convinced by a friend of his to place a personal ad in the local Bay Area newspaper. That personal ad would forever change the course of Robert Garcia's life.

Through the personal ad, Robert met a man named Jon Haupert. They spoke with each other over the phone and soon agreed to meet in person. Robert, a driven, goal-oriented kind of guy, was an artist with a demanding career on his hands. Jon, on the other hand, was a more reserved, quiet, type of person. But, as the old saying goes, opposites attract, and their first date went very well.

Robert remembers that night vividly. "I knew in the back of my mind that there was something there."
On their second date, Jon melted Robert's heart by showing up with a special gift for his new love interest. Prior to that date, Robert had spoken at length about his passion for painting-so when Jon showed up, he stuck out his hand and presented Robert with a bouquet of different paint brushes.
"That stood out because here was someone who didn't give me a bouquet of flowers or something like that," says Robert. "Here was someone who really looked at what I was doing on the outside and that was important to me. I thought, 'Wow! This is somebody different!'"

From that moment on, it was a romance made in heaven. The couple continued to date and fell in love. They eventually moved in together and even adopted two sons-twin boys named Jake and Nikolas. The four became one happy family. And even though everything seemed perfect, there was one dream left to be fulfilled-marriage!

For Jon and Robert, getting married was something they had each dreamed about, but had long dismissed upon the discovery of their QV sexualities. Robert confesses that during his coming out process, the dream of marriage seemed to fade away. He explains, "As a teenager, when I came out and realized that I was QV, that whole image of marriage went away. That was one of the most difficult things for me to go through as a teen and questioning my sexuality."

It became even harder for Robert as he grew older and his cousins began getting married. They would always ask him when he was going to get married. "I hated that question. I'd always kind of shun away from it," Robert recalls. "I even had a girlfriend and fiancé for a while, just to play the role that I was going to get married, but I realized that wouldn't be the right thing to do because I would be fooling both myself and her."

But after spending so much time with Jon, the dream of getting married suddenly began to look more real. He explains, "We started looking at what a commitment ceremony or blessing could be, and I thought maybe there is a possibility."

And so the process of getting married began. This process included looking for a church because the couple wanted some kind of religion to be a part of their union. After doing some research on a few different churches, they decided to hold their ceremony at an Episcopalian Church in San Francisco. And they set the date for October 30,1999.

Invitations were sent out to family and friends-and even to qvMagazine. The invitations stated, "Together with their families, Jon D. Haupert & Robert L. Garcia request the honor of your presence at their commitment ceremony."

Then, on October 30, 1999, Jon and Robert realized their wedding dreams as they exchanged rings and vows.

Having their respective families at the ceremony was important to both Jon and Robert, though Robert admits it was a bit scary not knowing how they would react. Robert explains, "Jon and I both come from strong Catholic families, in terms of going to church and communion and all those things growing up. I was a little worried about what their interpretation of this ceremony would be. I didn't want them to think that this was going to be a slap in their face as far as their religion. I worried about what they were thinking and wondered if they understood exactly what we were doing and what it meant to me and Jon as a family. I think we made some big milestones as far as family members attending."

Though Robert's mother had passed away in January of 1998, his father did attend. "I don't know how he really felt about it since I don't have a really close relationship with him, but he came," Robert says.

Jon's grandmother also came to the blessing, which was very important to Jon. "She's like the stamp of approval in the family because she's very, very Catholic," he says. "We weren't sure if she was going to come, but she did and complimented us on the ceremony itself and church service."

Having their friends at the wedding was also important to the couple. "Our friends have become our extended family," Robert explains. "I think that happens to a lot of QVs and lesbians. I have friends that I consider almost as my brothers and sisters. It was important for us to have them there."

Their twin sons even participated in the ceremony. "That was another important reason for us to do this," says Robert. "We knew that we wanted to make this commitment to each other, and in looking at the whole concept of doing it, we wanted to include the boys because they're a very important part of our life."

To the loving couple, having this blessed union enabled them to symbolized their love for one another and gave them the opportunity to publicly acknowledge to their friends and families that they were a couple-and with their sons, a family. "We wanted to show our friends and family that we are a family, and that we want them to approve of the boys and Jon and myself. It was a public way of showing that we love each other, that we are a family, and that we need and want their support because this is a lifetime commitment."

Looking back at their wedding day, it seems like the couple hardly spent any time together. Robert recalls, "I think the closest we got to each other was in the limousine during the ride from the church to the reception. At the reception, we ate very briefly together then just split up. After that, we were either dancing with someone else or talking with someone else. It was like this huge blur."
After the wedding, the couple opened all the gifts and read all the cards from family members and friends. "It was interesting to see the cards we got from other people. We got a lot of generic kind of cards that just said 'Congratulations.' We got one card where someone actually crossed out the word 'marriage' and wrote in 'blessing.' It's interesting to look at other people's perception of a QV marriage, and I think there is a curiosity in this, too. People don't know what to expect when they get invited to a QV wedding."

Today, four months have passed since Jon and Robert's wedding and they are as happy as ever. It's been a dream come true for the two men, and something they will cherish forever.

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