American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Two Decades in North Carolina: Diana and MaryAnn’s Love Story

AFER’s Love Stories series tells the stories of couples who are waiting to get married. If you are a gay and lesbian couple who is planning to get married, tell us your story and you could be featured.

They met at a friend’s birthday party. Little did they know at the time, but 25 years later Diana Travis and MaryAnn Mueller would still be sharing their lives together on seven acres of land in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“First we were friends, but then there was this magnetism,” Diana reflects on her first encounters with MaryAnn. “I was writing in my journal about the kind of person I want to be with, and I kept writing about her. A light bulb went off. This is the person I want to spend my life with.”

Someone Special

The couple says the secret to their decades of happiness together is a relationship built upon honestly and support for one another.

“When I wanted to start Goose Busters, my friends thought I was crazy, but not MaryAnn,” says Diana, referencing the green business she started in 2000. Several years ago, MaryAnn even retired from her job as a physical therapist to help out full time.  The business model is as unique as it is impressive: specially trained Border Collies safely and humanely rid properties of large flocks of Canada Geese, which aggressively nest in Charlotte area.

“Diana is so confident about herself and willing to reach out to new people and situations like starting a new business. I really admire that about her. She ends up dragging me along with her,” jokes MaryAnn.

Fighting for What is Right

When North Carolina voters were faced with a draconian anti-marriage amendment earlier this year, the couple sprang into action by volunteering with Equality North Carolina to organize house parties, educate others about its far-reaching consequences, and get out the vote.

“When it passed, we were really disappointed. We were heartbroken. We didn’t want to get out of bed the next morning,” says MaryAnn.

“But there were some positives that came out of the campaign,” she notes. “It got people talking about equality and really brought people together—there was an outpouring of support from straight allies, including two former Charlotte mayors, one Democrat and one Republican who appeared in a TV ad together.”

For Diana, the campaign was part of a long history fighting for equality. When she lived in Boston during the 1960s, she was president of the first lesbian civil rights organization, a chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis. The organization was founded in 1955 in part by Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the first couple married in San Francisco when marriage equality came to California in 2008.

“It was us and the Mattachine Society, and then [the Stonewall Riots and] Christopher Street happened and so many more people got involved.” Diana remembers.

“At our first Pride march in Boston, we had 35 people.  We met at the Boston Commons and smashed open a closet with a sledge hammer. I think the last one Boston had 400,000 people attend.

“Back then we concentrated on things that we thought might happen, like not getting fired from jobs and getting more people to come out, that was our biggest deal.”

Great Hope

The couple notes that our country has come a long way since the 1960s.

“To think that we might be able to get married here in North Carolina if the Perry case is successful, that would be amazing.” Diana reflects.

“We consider ourselves married spiritually, but there are lots of rights that we don’t have, like [to inherit] social security benefit,” she continues. “My relationship is just as valid as yours. I have been in business in Charlotte for 25 years, own 7 acres of land, we pay taxes.”