American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

A Different Perspective: Becky and Renee’s Love Story

In May of this year, Becky Quillen and Renee Hall traveled from their small town in Tennessee to the sandy beaches of Hawai’i to declare their love for each other.

The commitment ceremony and vacation were a dream come true for the happy couple, until the last night.

“I awoke from a dead sleep with my heart racing and it would not stop,” recalls Becky. “I had to go to the hospital.”

“When I called 911, I was scared because in Tennessee you don’t say ‘I’m her wife’ or ‘I’m her girlfriend,’ says Renee.

Becky was taken to a local emergency room where her heart was reverted back to a normal rhythm.  Luckily, Becky was fine, but what followed was something they had never experienced before.

When she got the hospital Renee was able to fill out paperwork on behalf of Becky, and the nurse even directed her by saying, “Your wife is back here.”

“Hawaii was a completely different experience. They truly treated us like an equal couple. It was so liberating and free to be normal and treated like every other couple.”

Becky’s heart problem was quite the fright, but the experience of being treated with respect and dignity in such a nerve-wracking situation opened the couple’s eyes to the importance of equality in the nation.

A Nationwide Effect

Becky and Renee have lived the majority of their lives in Tennessee and they absolutely love it there. They hope that full federal marriage equality will help their area progress to be more accepting of LGBT people.

“I don’t foresee a [marriage equality] coming any time soon to Tennessee,” says Becky. “That is unless the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of it nationwide.”

“The Prop. 8 case is going to go a long way toward having [marriage equality] passed nationwide,” continues Renee. “Any state that makes a move like that is going to go a long way for us.”

The couple hopes that Renee’s daughter Ashley, who is a lesbian, and many other young people like her will never have to experience the discrimination that they have.

Hoping for More

Regardless of the struggles Becky and Renee face on a daily basis in Tennessee, they find strength in each other.

Becky describes Renee as, “loving, compassionate, and caring.” She continues, “Renee is my perfect best friend and she means everything to me. Honestly, I only thought I knew what love was until I met her.”

Renee says that she loves Becky’s “compassion that goes beyond limits for everyone and everything. She has this ability to love anyone no matter what.”

Becky and Renee’s lives changed when they had a commitment ceremony in Hawai’i this year. They are hoping that one day they can have a true, legally recognized wedding.