American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Just Like Everyone Else: Erica and Melissa’s Love Story

This is part of AFER’s Love Stories 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.

We own a house, we own a Prius. We have a dog, we have two cats. We’re pretty normal,” says Erica Mikesh, a civil engineer of her relationship with her partner, Melissa Neufer, high school biology teacher in Santa Rosa, California. 

Now, after six years together, Erica and Melissa are expecting their first child in January.

Along with the joys of parenthood, come concerns about the recognition of not being legally married. “I don’t want our kids to think that we don’t fit in,” says Melissa.

They are looking forward to becoming parents, renovating their home in preparation. Their humor and excitement shine through: “We remodeled our house and Erica did nothing to fix anything, I did it all,” Melissa jokes. “I did the plans for it! That saved us $500!” Erica says in defense. “And I cut the tile! I love cutting tile.”

Love at Last

Erica and Melissa met working at a summer camp in the northern California coastal town of Point Reyes. After spending the summer together, it didn’t take long for them to realize that they were more than just friends.

The place holds special significance for them, providing a point of departure for annual hikes. “We go backpacking and hiking a lot,” says Erica.

The couple returned to Point Reyes in 2011 for a commitment ceremony. “It was a very special day,” says Erica.

“It was bittersweet,” Erica says. “[But], we want[ed] to marry before something happens to either of our parents. My mom has had breast cancer twice now, [and a dad is in his late 70s] so you just never know if they’re going to be around to see the big day.”

Occupational Hazard

Today, the two are happily living in Santa Rosa, where Melissa teaches high school. She loves being a teacher, and she believes that without the word ‘marriage’ it’s hard for her students to understand her relationship with Melissa.

“People will ask if we are legally married. I [want to] say I’m just like anyone else, that I got married,” Melissa says.

Erica adds, “We’re just like any other normal, boring couple that wants to live our normal, boring lives.”