When Tony Moya walked into Meryvn’s Department Store to pick up his final paycheck 19 years ago, he didn’t expect to meet the love of his life. Santiago “Jimmy” Serna had just moved to Phoenix, AZ, from Texas and was also working at the store. Tony had already quit, and that chance meeting brought the two men together.
“I knew immediately that was who I wanted to be with.” Tony said, “Jimmy was my first boyfriend.”
The first few years together were challenging for Tony and Jimmy. Tony had just finished going through a divorce and Jimmy was still settling into his new life in Arizona. Despite the rocky beginning, the men knew they had encountered a great love. “We relied on the support of our friends, family and of course, each other.” Jimmy explained, “We knew if we stuck out the initial challenges, we could make it through anything!”
And they certainly did. 19 year later, Tony and Jimmy are as in love as ever.
“Our lives are pretty routine. We go to work, are politically active, travel, clean the house, have friends come over.” Tony said, “All that regular mundane stuff that all couples do. We are no different.”
Except there’s one key difference. Tony and Jimmy are not allowed to be legally married in their home state of Arizona, despite their many years of love and commitment to one another.
“I believe that marriage is the ultimate show of love toward another person. I think that we have proven our longevity as a couple and it’s not a decision we would take lightly. We have had plenty of time to think about this [marriage] and we know that we are ready.” Jimmy said.
Though Tony and Jimmy have thought about leaving Arizona in order to be married, but chose not to. “Arizona is our home. Our families live here, we fell in love here. To leave would not solve our problem, just create new ones.” Tony explained.
Same-sex couples like Jimmy and Tony shouldn’t have to leave our state to be afforded the respect and protections all families deserve. Despite the fact that the two men share a home, finances, and a long history together– they are treated as legal strangers by their home state. Jimmy said:
“We love each other and always have and always will. I believe that we should be able to express and legally be afforded the same rights as any married couple.”