Colin Coffey and Michael Brundage

Recorded July 4, 2009 Archived July 4, 2009 38:53 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX005492


Michael Brundage (41) and Colin Coffey (44) talk about their marriage in Lee, MA and how laws against gay marriage have prevented them from getting legal privilege in New York.

Subject Log / Time Code

Married in Lee, MA on St. Patrick’s Day. How family members reacted. Importance of opening peoples’ minds about gay marriage.
Colin’s view of United States as very progressive and how those views have changed - specifically in relation to gay marriage laws - as he has gotten older.
Michael’s feelings on his weddings day. A description of the wedding. Reading of vows.
When they knew they were ready to be married. How they met. Why they will have a few more weddings.
Remembering their vows; “I love you.”


  • Colin Coffey
  • Michael Brundage

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


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00:06 Hello, my name is Michael Brundage. I'm 41 years old today's date is the 4th of July 2009. We are in Rochester New York, and I'm with my husband calling coffee.

00:20 Hi, I'm calling coffee and I am 44 years of age. And today's date is July 4th. Independence Day 2009. We are in Rochester New York. And Michael is my husband.

00:39 Sakhalin, what made you want to come today to storycorps and tell a story?

00:44 Well

00:46 When I heard about it, I so.

00:49 We've been through quite a journey this year getting married in Lee Massachusetts on some Patrick's Day and I was really surprised when I look to see that this actually a very few number of people. I think it's like 18,000 couples have been married in Massachusetts. I know some other states of had marriage laws, California did briefly for a while. So this you know, I think might be 20 more thousand or so, but considering the national to buy and considering the amount of time and energy and money that's going to

01:33 Stopping gay couples like ourselves from being allowed to marry and enjoy.

01:41 The full civil rights this country promises to us. It's really not that many couples who've actually married to now so it might be a good thing for us to come along today and talk about given the fact that the federal government to noises or recognition and no benefits and all right if I marry in New York state but the California state will narrow he will recognize marriage is legally contracted elsewhere. You know, what what made us go and get married even though there's all these obstacles and even though it's not recognized as an equal marriage.

02:35 And I guess the other thing is cuz I was a history undergraduate when I was at Sussex University. One of the things I liked about the program now my graduates in 1997 was that we learned that history isn't just about

02:57 The ruling class A so that people with a lot of money of the people who own the rights to talk. It's about ordinary people's lives and history into becoming more and more interested in that and I thought we had the story that might be of interest to history people in ordinary people in the future.

03:18 What was your biggest surprise about getting married?

03:23 My biggest surprise about getting married to you was given that it was just the two of us and Bella all dog in the car waiting with a Justice of the pace.

03:44 I was surprised at how emotional the experience was. I was surprised that.

03:53 Given that we just drive the 4 hours down to Lee Massachusetts, like literally just cross the border to get out of New York state so that we could be legally married.

04:08 It was a simple it was a political stat, but when the two of us were just there when I had you around for the first time and then I'll read mine to you. I was surprised at how much emotion I fell and how the world just stopped completely and the justice of peace pronounce this married and it was such an emotional experience and I wasn't expecting that.

04:44 How do you think our families for reacting to the marriage?

04:50 Well, I think

04:54 Papa is expectations. And what were the expectations that we sat? So the expectations are set with my family in England that she know.

05:06 Lesbian gay couples achieve folate cool legal status

05:12 4 years ago in 2005. So, you know given that we were going to have to leave to stay go to somewhere where we didn't have any connections with the people working to be kind enough to allow us to marry one way the federal government. We know basically just says we know

05:40 You known persons known full citizens.

05:47 I couldn't really get me a side of my mother and father and stepfather and sister and family and friends in England. Come to America cuz we're getting married because it snow.

06:03 I don't know how to put it. It's kind of like.

06:08 It's like giving second hand clothing as a gift. You know this something just know. I mean, it's wrong about it.

06:19 So yeah, I was you know, I didn't expect much of a response. Also. I think that you know, my sister has been with her partner now, I think for 17 years and my mother has been with my stepdad John.

06:35 I think food like a similar amount of time and neither has them a married so no such a big deal. I think it's hard for the people to understand but I was happy with the reaction. I didn't feel.

06:53 Slided or anyting until I'm your family was a little different that was very confused when they

07:03 Yellowstone, we just by Tracy didn't know what to say or how to react to a bishop say anything.

07:10 You got one of them still hasn't your uncle. He still hasn't said anything, but it surely one would to file that even at Kelly's wedding 2 weeks ago.

07:23 But

07:25 Yeah, I think your mom and dad has been gray is interesting to start when you explain it. We got married or explain why we got to Lee Massachusetts. I think it's great to be able to start that conversation with people and have them think about it or ask questions.

07:39 I think it just would never come up in conversation. Otherwise with some people they never would have thought about it or give it a second thought. Yeah. I was pretty surprised at how

07:50 Like in the truly neutral Saints of the word ignorant like I'm knowing people Tumblr that we know well even questions ago. Why did you have to go to Lee Massachusetts? Some people that we're trying to avoid them or just didn't invite them. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to throw a hundred people into a small car and drive to Lee Massachusetts for a day and then come back the brightest poor in terms of the spontaneous reaction was from your fellow teachers at Wilson Foundation Academy. I mean, how did you feel by the reaction if your co-workers and your supervisor as well as I can be myself and to acknowledge our relationship and celebrate our relationship was a great feeling.

08:42 And what about the fight that they combined a Saint Patrick's Day celebration on the Saturday before we got married. That was a great idea was lots of fun.

08:53 I always really I was totally totally lost for words.

09:00 But you know is knowing and often occurrence.

09:07 So

09:14 Did you ever think when you were growing up that you would?

09:19 Be allowed or that you would be able to get married to the man that you loved me just seemed like it was just never going to happen. It was just

09:29 Not the right thing to do.

09:32 Yeah, I don't know anyone since we've got married to know that there are other states like Iowa, Maine that have passed similar legislation.

09:43 That's a great sign that there is hope and it's definitely going in the right direction. So, I hope that New York will follow suit and offer marriage equality for all people. I think it's going in the right direction. I mean to think the

09:58 The federal government will recognize a marriage in the next 5 years in the next 10 years. Hoping to be back in New York state and realize okay the benefits you thought you're going to have you don't really have so yeah why the we consider ourselves to be completely married legally. It's

10:21 Not the same. Yeah. I thought we could fall out taxes together if in New York state because the governor said that all marriages would be recognized by state agencies. But then you know, when did we find out? It's like maybe 3-4 weeks ago that the cash tonight because you can't file differently in New York state for taxes to what you fall as a few federal taxes. So because we count fall is married Federal even though New York says will recognize your marriage. We can file our taxes together, but we're going in the right direction least you can sit at the table even if we can eat there.

11:09 Yeah, I think it's a good statement. I think just knowing that my nieces and nephews will know us as a married couple so later in life. If they see your meet somebody who's gay or lesbian though. So, you know the view them differently. I believe Ya Allah who can your nephew on our nephew? Who's five now? Is he 5? Yeah, he was really excited about the fight that we were going to be married and it's great for somebody that young got to have any Prejudice or any opinions on if she saw this is the way it is and these people love each other and they're going to get married Uncle call in and Uncle Michael, right? Yeah, I think not the not the main reason.

11:48 Another reason I wanted to come to story cool because

11:55 In the future. Hopefully people will just look back on this time and somebody will listen to this type and go.

12:04 How ridiculous was this that we were so?

12:09 Fall behind cuz I remember when I was growing up in England and starting to realize that I was guy, you know, I'd heard about Harvey Milk the first openly gay elected member of the San Francisco counselor think I can't remember when that was but I remember it might the news even in England as teenager. And then I think I had something about the Stonewall riots, but I always looked at the United States is being like the leader me know the leader of civil rights leader for treating gay people equally and and when I came to visit the United States, I think for first time in 1999, I can't believe like New York, you know the Village area.

13:09 I had nothing like it. I remember in London in the late 80s when I left college and moved out there and 1988. You know, you had to know through the grapevine kind of thing where the guy pause were and they would have all of the windows black down so that local people with don't know what was going on in now. So you coming to the United States and saying the Village in New York. I was like, I know nothing about San Francisco will don't know having pain and I was like, wow, this is the United States is really ahead on this but yet here we are sitting here in 2009.

13:54 And

13:56 Boise going 2005 we could have had full civil rights in England with the guy couple kind of.

14:07 But when I think back to just within my lifetime different races, were they able to marry and I was actually

14:14 Not federally approved your legislative until 1967. I know I couldn't believe that I was like, how can they how did they met who sat down and wrote these kind of lures. Why would they you know, what was the motivation?

14:29 I'm frustrated with the lack of progress I think case.

14:38 I think the I expect it's more from President Obama and you know, we both was.

14:47 Hard to help him get elected.

14:52 I don't think a lot of people date and I kind of expected him to be more of a leader.

15:00 I think a lot of people in the Democratic party are just

15:04 The leadership seems to be afraid that if they speak up for what they know in their hearts is right that they can lose votes that we're kind of like lesbian and gay people.

15:22 That way too unpopular and then if they just speak out and say, you know, this is not a difficult issue. We just give lesbian gay couples the same rights as everyone else that kind of sign taxes and civil marriage. This is nothing to do with what the church is approval down the produce they can marry who they want. So they won't be forced to marry in the bishop of New York is not going to be. Mary Michael Brundage and calling coffee and the Church of all Choice. I'm which is talking about a civil.

16:03 Marriage

16:06 I kind of frustrated that I wish the United States was taking more of a leadership role because what happens here affects everything all over the world.

16:21 But like healthcare though where it seems to make so much sense, but people don't seem to buy into it for whatever reason.

16:28 Now, I don't know what that is. But you know, I know that we'll get there in the end. It's like we know for sure by the time Logan and Katrina and Sullivan in Marissa and Marissa. I know I was thinking of the number for Mike and I know that we don't know the name of yet the fourth child to be born by the time they're in their twenties, you know, this issue will be something that

17:06 Play the story of my client had to die except that might appoint of hug her grandmother telling her mother that she used to use an Inkwell at a desk in high school.

17:21 And I think I remember you being remember that conversation with you explain to me how difficult it was moving from or how happy you were to move from usually actually using The Inkwell. Yeah to cartridge pen night. No idea what you're talking about except that's at my grandparents at talked about. I know it's like weird that we grew up two years older than you but yeah, I'm sitting in a desk with a dipping a pen and Inkwell and you have no idea what that is.

17:53 Little House on the Prairie

17:57 I can ask you.

18:06 How did you feel?

18:08 At a wedding on our wedding day. What what came out for you? I was really surprised because I figured we've been together already over six years and that was just the next step but to have a publicly acknowledged.

18:23 Was very moving even though we didn't have family or friends that it was just the two of us in the Justice of the Peace. Just acknowledging our vows out loud.

18:32 It is very significant removing.

18:36 And I didn't expect it to be like that.

18:40 I do look forward to go to heaven like a full marriage is very confusing in the beginning because it's

18:50 You can get married just not in this state, but will recognize it when you come back, but you don't know whether to have a celebration when you come back or educate people when you come back all these things that other couples don't realize what you have to go through.

19:04 Yeah, it's weird. It's kind of like you you happy like I remember thinking aside from all the emotions.

19:13 To you. I'm making a lifelong commitment for us together besides all that is this weird mix of other feelings? Like at one point, you know, I'm standing there. I'm thinking this is the first time any legal Authority has treated me as an equal ever. I'm 44 years of age and this is the first time this time and I was 43

19:48 I need makes you realize you know, what what is the psychological toll of that? You know when you grow up just taking it for granted that you not going to be allowed to do the things in your life and make a puppet commitment that you will laugh and your relationship is

20:12 It's like right from the get-go, you know, you know.

20:16 You know.

20:18 You know equal and then to have it was a Cairn of a Velo valet valet the Justice of the pace to stand there in a full Golf and say I Now Pronounce You partner and partner.

20:34 By the powers vested in me in the Commonwealth of the state of Massachusetts.

20:39 It's like oh my God, this is

20:43 This is actually happening. And so is it failing that so tremendous sort of wow mixed in with everything to do with our relationship?

20:55 But then getting in the car and driving 4 hours back having driven 4 hours to get there.

21:06 With bailarin you in the car back to Rochester, New York.

21:12 And kind of know

21:19 That we know we know.

21:22 Equal

21:25 That way still

21:27 No.

21:31 But we thought we were kind of its of like being invited to a party and and getting into the garden for the reception and then somebody saying well you can't come in for the full sit-down dinner.

21:48 It sounds like you'd like to be there you really enjoyed the reception, but you didn't quite realize that you know, the whole thing is not have a roller coaster of emotions between the excitement and the joy and the frustration. Yeah exactly. I still feel that frustration. But you know, it's mixed now with more Pride, you know, every time we go somewhere together, you know, there isn't any question has you know, how do I introduce Michael? You know, who is Michael to me? It's a simple at site.

22:29 This is my husband Michael. I'd like to introduce you to my husband Michael.

22:35 And that's so simple since the law of benefits to it.

22:44 Can I ask a question?

22:52 Be there who who wasn't there but that was like to read your vows to be wherever you were at a lake. Where was it was actually at the justice of peace has house and took something to her front porch, which Overlook The Berkshire mountains. It was a beautiful day in March. I'm going to go home and eat that was the night. I died of the year so far only to come through a long winter.

23:19 Too perfect to be outside in front of nature in front of each other.

23:24 I just exchanged our vows to each other.

23:27 Yeah, we were both dressed in suits. She was very sweet bald. I suppose I should say one of the reasons we chose some Patrick's Day is because my mother and my father Teresa and Frank Coffee by spawning on island, and my mother was 14 when she left to be a mage ampleforth College in Yorkshire private Catholic school and what times I think left all in Twin he was 18 and if I sent you that working in the The Lost longest, I mental health hospitals is nursing assistants.

24:13 So

24:15 With your family being half-irish.

24:19 It so seems like the natural diet pack, you know, just to Pakistan. We we start.

24:29 The outside world that way Michael never forget it if it's on some Patrick's day, but I'm we both will saves and we arrive there and she had the justice of the peace heads. I might green what do they call that was boutonnieres for the little Saint Patrick's Day Green hats Forest exactly was like a joke picture of us with the hats on off to the series picture.

25:00 When

25:04 You write down you'll files. I'd no idea what you were going to say in them. Absolutely none.

25:15 And said that was for removing.

25:21 And

25:23 I don't know how to give you my I can tell cuz we will both we will but we both had tears coming down our allies. I'm Bella was in the car or a dog. I've had Bella since she was full 6 weeks old shoes the rescue in Houston, Texas, and she was in the call.

25:47 It was nice. Just having the two of us there with the G the j p g p h i p in the cheap.

25:55 And the shape and

26:02 Yeah, I think the one thing that I just remember.

26:07 More than anything else was like the world just completely starts like delays. Stop moving in the trays the bed stop chirping everything. There was like no one knows nothing else in the world, except the two of us talking about why we loved each other and that we wanted to commit to each other for the rest of our lives and the justice of the peace that witness said and to say he know your name legally married.

26:50 It is beautiful as that was I still would want to do it again. Once it's recognized in New York state. If not, federally just to have all of our friends and family there. I know how many wedding so we can have to have it's going to be like as long as it's the same anniversary cuz I can't remember too many dates. I don't know that's a good idea New York State legalizes at cevapi wedding number two, and I'm trying to figure out how we can make this Four Weddings and a funeral North. I want the funeral but you know, they're inevitable.

27:32 When did you guys know that you were ready to marry? Is there a moment?

27:39 As we entered, Massachusetts

27:43 I was thinking more hours.

27:48 Ready to marry

27:53 I was ready to marry a long time ago. I was ready to marry when the golfer David Patterson of New York said okay. I called KK marriage bill through right now, but I'm going to order oldest agencies in New York to recognize marriages. I was like, okay. Well then, you know, this is something this is why every two I mean that's a good thing. We were ready before the state of the government was if we if we could we talked about it and didn't know whether we should do it or wait.

28:26 Yeah, you were kind of upset when I said I remember when we first talked about it and I suggested it and I like to refer to refer to the marriage in Massachusetts has the rehearsal marriage right and you were all upset and then I had to explain that. I didn't mean that I didn't take it seriously, but it was just that I couldn't.

28:46 A good conscience invite my mother and stepfather and sister to come all the way.

28:53 And then I thought you understood right?

28:56 But that was left you some explaining explaining if we will maybe good question to ask is.

29:07 Let's assume that from the day that we met we could have had the legal right to marry and have all those responsibilities. When will we have got married?

29:19 I know we kind of went through all the steps.

29:22 You moved to Rochester.

29:26 Yeah, I think it was a fairytale. Yeah, I think moving from Texas to Rochester that was probably a year off to that. We probably would have got married three days in a moving van.

29:37 That's why yeah, that was a that was the trip.

29:43 Tell ya.

29:49 Now this is funny. Do you want to say you can explain why are you mad at a workshop?

30:03 Offered by a very great counselor and his bicycle Tony Carroll in Houston, Texas. He and his partner Bruce last name into a mental. Yeah. He's a psychotherapist and his partner has his dentist says I know you offer at the same building so they cool Dental in men. I know. I held the workshop entitled single gay men looking to establish stable long-term relationships and

30:42 I think it was 250 bucks for the weekend and Michael signed off and I signed off when we went to the workshop. I showed up on time. I showed up light and some.

30:59 I already had no idea anything about you from that would show up because all you did was repeat back while the people said, so by the end of the weekend you were the unique more in the room, so I wanted to find out more and that's how we met was just a nice place to me, but I just kind of

31:23 It is bizarre of all the places for two gay men to meet.

31:28 At Work Sharp

31:33 Yeah, that was that was a good investment, but I wasn't looking to meet anyone at that would show up. Will it go listen to meet the right person at the workshop the goal was just to kind of set your mind straight and think about reprioritize things. Yeah, but with the skills that you were looking for right now.

31:55 That she that was the it when he gave us a huge long list of like 200 different characteristics of income.

32:04 Finances and religion physical appearance eye color family background lights white and so on and so forth occupation, you know inch of a excavator with all these things on the less than we were broken up into groups of three time. We were lost to individually pick out or talk for I'll talk full characteristics. Am I sat down with the two other guys in my group and just put my paint down off to to platinum in it? Maybe I said, okay, I'm done. I said, how can you be done so quickly. It's so difficult choosing one of the most full most important things and I just had one a simple body face appearance sax.

32:50 Thankful. You're not so superficial now, huh?

32:54 And they both stood there by still horrified and then they they Loft unless it's finished laughing. I kept straight face and look to them and said no seriously, but yeah, I know.

33:07 That's it was a good place to me and Amanda. I felt like right from the beginning.

33:14 We could talk to each other. I'm alright from the new all but you opened up.

33:24 If you had the chance to marry me again is New York state, they'll get a federal or might have to go to England and have a wedding the money be able to afford all these weddings. That was the other thing about our wedding. It was like one that we could afford it was what was it a hundred? It was twenty bucks for the mountains license.

33:48 And I went by the way we'd have to cite that the the lady from the to the town clock in Lee Massachusetts. I can't remember her name. She was so nice. She was just really nice and tell him that it was like a hundred bucks to for the JP the town clerk was great. I mean just very welcoming very supportive. Once again, just the beginning of feeling acknowledged like we drove in and

34:15 I didn't know what to expect since you said, you know, I don't see what the big problem was. All we had to do is just change it from husband and wife to party a and party B and now it's just that simple for her and I thought it was funny that it was party cuz I was like I want to be party at a man gay people get married. It's a party. I'm party a you'll probably be so yeah that was

34:40 That was good.

34:42 I think we've covered pretty much everything that we wanted to cover. Is there anything else that you wanted to just like they were here on Independence Day because I feel like we're talking about a different type of Independence.

34:57 I absolutely love the Declaration of Independence. I love the Bill of Rights. I'm a permanent resident. I have the right to apply to be a citizen but six hundred bucks now and having just started my own business renewing massage in Rochester New York by them and want to spend that money right now, but I know I will be a citizen and I think this country has so much.

35:32 To offer the world in every way and the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights is a blueprint and something for us to live up to and I'm sure before we die will be able to sit in the United States and enjoy the full Freights of fine. Declaration and Bill of Rights. I'm about to be American citizens.

36:06 So, I guess the Lost thing I'd like to say is thank you to story. Cool. Thank you for the people who set this project. Thank you for coming to Rochester New York and it's been a great experience. Thank you Alex. And I think we're which I'm now.

36:35 I don't I had to write them down. So I wouldn't forget them. I tried memorizing them and thinking about it and practicing and I just never I was glad that I went first.

36:44 Did anyone no matter what Colin said? I was just going to be in tears. So it's good for me to talk first. And whatever Colin said we just came out so eloquently and beautiful. Thank you. That's nice to psi.

36:57 Tony think of something specific

37:05 I think the one thing that I remember was.

37:14 Sign up

37:17 I wanted to

37:21 Always be able to

37:25 I

37:28 Was something about the in our life together that we would always be able to look at each other and be willing to forgive because I think that

37:44 Forgiveness is

37:51 Really keep all of a successful relationship will do things the

38:01 That we need forgiveness for and I think in the marriage to be able to look at each other in the eye and to be able to forgive each other and to let go and to forget and move on and see in the other person's eyes. You are on Hall and

38:27 But you want to forgive yourself just as much as you want to forgive them and to be forgiven. I think that was one of the things that I wanted to sign my vows.

38:41 Any final words for each other?

38:44 Any

38:47 I love you. I love you, too.