I didn’t know it at the time but exactly two years ago, I shot the first images for the Legal Stranger Project.
A few days after D.C. legalized same-sex marriage, I went to cover a news event at the Andrew W. Mellon Building. About a dozen same-sex couples were exchanging vows to symbolize marriage equality in the nation’s capital. It was there, I met Amy and Alex Khalaf on one of the most important days of their lives, their wedding day.
Initially, I planned on following them through their first year of marriage. But as I began to research the rights associated with marriage, I found a bigger story.
Under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), legally married same-sex couples are not entitled to 1,138 federal rights, benefits and entitlements granted to heterosexual couples upon marriage. In the eyes of the government, they are legal strangers.
As a married person, I had no idea that my husband and I were entitled to such rights. I began to wonder how many couples knew they’re granted 1,138 rights. What were these rights? And how would people be impacted without them?
In trying to find these answers, the Legal Stranger Project was created.
Now after two years, the project has documented personal stories through countless photos, videos and interviews. As I continue to shoot, edit and seek production funds to keep the project moving forward, it can sometimes seem like there is quite a long road ahead. But when I look back, I realize we’ve come just as far.
I’ve met some really amazing people. Some have shared their stories, others have given me advice and encouragement, generously donated to the project, or offered their time and expertise to help create the Legal Stranger Project. I’m truly grateful for all of you.
The Legal Stranger Project