Henry Schalizki and Bob Davis met in Rhode Island in 1942 and spent the entire night talking to one another.
Then they went their separate ways.
Three years later, the pair crossed paths again, this time in Baltimore. And this time they didn't go their separate ways. They stayed together for more than 60 years. And finally, on June 20th, 2010, they exchanged their wedding vows.
Talk about a long engagement.
Back in Baltimore, that second time they met, Henry Schalizki learned that Bob Davis had moved to his hometown for work and that he was staying in a seedy boarding house. Henry invited Bob to be his house guest, promising to find him someplace to live and work the next day, but that never happened.
They fell in love, and Davis "stayed and stayed."
Back in those early years, Henry and Bob never shared their affection openly, but neither did they completely hide it. They attended dinner partied together at the homes of Henry Schalizki's railroad colleagues, and Henry went to all of Bob's social engagements. They never announced their love for one another, but they never really denied it; they were simply Henry and Bob.
"What they don't know won't hurt them,' " Bob remembers thinking. "Let's not antagonize people."
And they never felt able to share the news of their relationship with their own families, though perhaps they knew. At the end of his life, Henry's dad wrote a letter instructing the two men to always take care of each other; and Bob's mother adored them both.
Through good times and bad, sickness and health, as all couples do--though most can do it legally--they stayed together. They didn't need that piece of paper, but even if they'd wanted it, they couldn't have it; until now.
When marriage equality became law in Washington, DC, Henry decided it was time to get married. But Bob wanted no part of it, saying, "We're accepted as two human beings, always as a couple. I said, 'I don't see any reason for it....Besides that, Vera Wang will never make a gown for me to wear."
But then Henry reminded Bob of the reaction to a speech he'd given during the 2008 Helen Hayes Awards, where the couple was honored. Schalizki, though somewhat unofficially, professed his love for Bob Davis and the audience gave him a standing ovation.
They may not have been the loudest voices for gay rights, they may not have marched in every parade or flown a Pride flag, but the very nature of their relationship is a milestone in the gay rights movement.
People can say we don't deserve the right to be married; they can say all sorts of things about gay couples. But they cannot say, especially to Henry and Bob, that gay couples cannot truly love.