American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Family First: Ben and Benjamin’s Love Story

This is the first in a series about couples who are waiting to get married in California. If you are a gay and lesbian couple who is planning to get married, tell us your story and you could be featured.

Ben Mudgett and Benjamin Gamboa first thought about getting married 2008 during the months when gay and lesbian couples could get married in California. But at the time, they had only been together for about a year and Ben had his two young daughters to think about.

“We wanted to get married on our own terms. We didn’t want to get married just because we were looking to be in a window,” says Benjamin. The couple decided they wanted to get married when the time was right for them.

Unfortunately, Proposition 8 was passed shortly thereafter. “[California] is our home. It’s like being in your home, but you’re not welcome,” Ben says.

The moment Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional, they got engaged. The couple was thrilled until the stay on the ruling was extended and the decision was appealed, which meant they had to delay their wedding. “We’ve had our wedding rings for almost two years now and they are sitting in boxes. We refuse to wear them until we are truly married.”

Not being able to wed has had an effect on their children as well. “Our daughters were really crushed when we told them that we weren’t going to be able to get married like we originally thought,” Benjamin says, “They were heartbroken.”


In 2009, they decided to put down roots in their conservative San Bernardino area. After seven months and countless offers, they finally found their dream home. But three days before they were supposed to close escrow, the loan officer called with disturbing news. “They told us we couldn’t be listed as domestic partners on the deed because we weren’t married.”

The seller wanted to pull out of the deal because of the confusion. The couple was more than qualified to buy a home – except for the fact that they were not married.

“We just wanted to move in and have a place for our family.”

The issue was resolved, but the misunderstanding clearly shows the lack of understanding behind the state’s domestic partnership law. They were even forced to prove their domestic partnership by showing their certificate, something, they note, a married couple would never have to do.

A Hopeful Future

Benjamin and Ben are hopeful for the day that they will be able to get married. “It means a lot for our daughters. I want them to feel like their family is just like everybody else’s family,” says Benjamin.

But for now, their wedding rings sit in the boxes and wait, just like them.