By Patrick Duvall
Today, Armando and Scott are firmly, unquestionably in love. They share a house they own together, last summer they got civilly united, and they spend their days wrestling with nieces and nephews and generally providing a home for those that don’t have one. But it wasn’t always this way. This is their story.
In January of 2011, Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed into law the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union act, granting the rights of marriage to same-gender couples. The law went into effect in June of that year, which set into a motion a flurry of LGBT couples getting hitched across the state.
“We’ve thought about it,” Armando responded hesitantly, but Scott had no such reservations.
“I don’t want that civil union crap,” he said. “I want the full-on marriage. Don’t blow smoke up my ass.” Across the nation, various state supreme courts had granted the rights for full civil marriage to LGBT couples, including most of New England and neighboring Iowa. When the Illinois legislature passed the act approving civil unions, in Chicago it seemed an important step forward, but a paltry condolence prize for when compared to the clearly cultured Iowan neighbors.
“I think for me,” Armando said smoothly navigating around the harshness of Scott’s words, “it also is just the commitment part is more spiritual and religious, so I don’t need the state to recognize that part of it.”
“We’re involved with our faith, and would like to get married in a church, but it’s not really feasible,” Scott solemnly added. They were fully committed to one another, so the need to civilly unite was less than imperative.
2011 was a busy year for the couple. For their anniversary in February, they took another trip to Puerto Vallarta, walking along the beach, going dolphin watching, and having romantic dinners alone.
The trip served as a sort of reprieve for Armando, who was finishing up his classes for his certificate in Organizational Behavior, and, in June, finally completed his coursework. That fall, Scott started his first full semester of nursing school, which, in addition to his full-time job, soaked up all of his free time. He even had to quit assisting Armando with the catechism classes he taught at their church.
With extra time on his hands, Armando decided to put it to good use with a mentorship program through the city of Chicago. He took to helping kids on a more individual level immediately. There were so many kids who needed guidance, that needed the love and support they weren’t getting at home, that soon he began to consider taking things to the next step. In the Spring of 2012, Scott decided to take a semester off from nursing school and began mentoring, as well.
They had reached a point in their relationship where they were secure and happy together. Mentoring fulfilled them to a degree neither of them expected, so they started thinking that perhaps the time had come for them to share their happiness with a child, particularly one of the many in the foster system. Teaching catechism allowed them to reach many kids at once, but it wasn’t enough. “We wanted to mentor on a more full-time basis,” Armando explains. “I like to think that we were able to influence students in our [catechism] class, but it was frustrating for me. If you look at some of the [students] and their parents, some of them weren’t as successful as they could be, given their talents, because of the lack of resources at their home. Sometimes parents just aren’t as effective at parenting, so [we] just thought it would be pretty awesome to be able to devote more resources to one kid.”