JULY 27, 2000

At 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, EPA co-workers host surprise reception for first Civil Union. A Federal employee for 23 years, Mark Hemry's Civil Union makes the abstraction "diversity" very personal.
The many guests were hosted at the 2 PM reception produced by Stacy Takeda and Cheryl Henley with video by Marilyn Huey. Lured to a "section meeting," a surprised Mark Hemry enters into a cascade of bubbles, confetti, and cheers. "SURPRISE!"
The grooms embrace in the 21st year of their now civilly joined union, having met under the marquee of the Castro Theatre, the night after the "White Night Riots," on Tuesday May 22, 1979. This is the first "out" and sanctioned same gender kiss in a U.S. Government Office.
Having worn formal tuxedos for the actual Civil Union ceremony, 15 days before, the grooms sported Vermont T-shirts with the logo "Our Civil Union 12 July 2000." From their favorite musical, Cabaret, the grooms hear the melody of the song, "Somebody Wonderful Married Me."
From Vermont to San Francisco, pairs of grooms (and in other unions, pairs of brides), caused Human Resources Officer, Leticia Fish, to exclaim, "Only in San Francisco!" The grooms cut the first slice of the 20-pound chocolate wedding cake designed by Cheryl Henley from their favorite restaurant, Max's.
This Civil Union made equally legal to marriage in Vermont, which was the first state to outlaw slavery, grants all the civil rights and privileges of marriage, using in the official documents the exact same wording as the marriage union, substituting the words "Civil Union" for "marriage," and ending with the phrase "now and forever."
Following tradition, a 5-pound chunk of chocolate wedding cake was frozen (with its action-figure grooms) to be preserved to celebrate the couples' first anniversary of their Civil Union.

Mark Hemry is the son of Claudine Thomas-Hemry and Vaughn James Hemry, Jr. of Kansas City, Missouri.

Jack Fritscher is the son of Virginia and George Fritscher, of Peoria, Illinois.

(No family members were harmed during the filming of the Civil Ceremony or the Reception.)