ANNA — Depending on how it’s looked at, Mark Frazier-Jones and Kevin Frazier-Jones, of Anna, have had either a very long engagement or a very short one.
The two men will be among the first Shelby County couples to wed, following the national legalization in June of same-sex marriages. Their big day will be Oct. 10. They began to discuss getting married a few weeks ago.
But the two men have been living together for 27 years. They merged their names, Frazier and Jones, legally in 2005. They adopted a child in 2005. Kris was raised by his two dads and is now an independent adult, living in Dayton. They’ve bought homes. They opened, ran and then closed a business together in Sidney.
“We’ve done everything a normal family would do after they get married. We just did it all in reverse,” laughed Kevin recently.
Kevin Jones and Mark Frazier first met in a bar in Lima. Neither one lived there at the time. Kevin had recently mustered out of the Navy and returned to his hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana. He went to Lima with friends. Mark, who grew up and lived in Sidney, was also visiting friends in Lima at the time.
“A month later, we ran into each other again and have been together ever since,” Mark said. They first lived together as roommates in Lima. After a year, they decided they wanted a deeper relationship. They moved to Sidney, but made another move to Anna after they adopted Kris, because they wanted the benefits of Anna’s school system for their son.
They can’t say who proposed marriage to the other first. They had discussed it several years ago when a few states legalized same-sex marriages.
“I thought that was silly if it wasn’t recognized in Ohio,” Mark said. “(Once it became legal here), Kevin said, ‘Well, are we going to get married now?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I guess.’”
The wedding will be in the backyard of their Anna home in front of 60 invited guests. The Rev. Heather Free, of Piqua, who is a personal friend of the couple, will perform the ceremony.
“Our son and my sister are going to stand up for us,” Kevin said. “We didn’t want it to be a traditional wedding, because there’s nothing traditional about a same-sex wedding.” Dress will be casual. The couple will not wear tuxedos — or dresses.
“We just want to be recognized by our family and friends and appreciate it that our relationship is supported by the government,” Kevin said.
Not everyone is pleased about the wedding. Some family members worry that, because the men are in the vanguard of married same-sex couples in Ohio, they will suffer discrimination or retaliation. But Kevin dismisses those fears.
“I don’t see people retaliating. I think the people we know, including at our jobs, are of a caliber that wouldn’t do that,” he said.
“The people at the courthouse (in Sidney, where they got their marriage license) were great,” added Mark.
The reception will be at their house and will feature a play list of songs they have selected, including “their” song, “Don’t Know Much,” by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.
“It’s the first song we danced to,” Kevin said.
They have not planned a honeymoon trip yet. Mark, who is employed by KTH Parts in St. Paris, doesn’t have sufficient vacation time this year for a long absence. So, they hope to take a trip next year, perhaps to Savannah, Georgia.
Neither man admits to being nervous. Getting married is a step they can take to use the advantages heterosexual couples have always enjoyed, like tax benefits and shared health insurance policies.
“Starting in November, I can get Kevin on my insurance at work. That’s a big step. Things like that mean a lot to me because it says the company I work for recognizes us as a legal couple,” Mark said.
Kevin, the shipping manager for Hexa America in Sidney, appreciates what being legally married will mean in terms of their caring for one another.
“Mark had a procedure at the hospital. Now people can’t tell me I have to leave. I’ve got the right to make decisions for him and vice versa,” he said.
They don’t expect that much else will change in their lives after the ceremony, except how they’ll refer to each other. They’ll have to get used to a different moniker.
After 27 years, “we’ve had our ups and downs, our family, our crises. It can’t get better and it can’t get worse,” Kevin said. “But it’s going to take a long time before I start saying, ‘my husband,’ instead of ‘my partner.’”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.