The One I Hoped to Find

Jo & Lindi Barney • Salt Lake City, UT

This story was originally published in December 2014. Jo and Lindi were one of the first same-sex couples in Utah to wed. 

It was the middle of the afternoon on Friday, December 20, and Jo and Lindi Barney were in the process of getting their family ready for a pajama party. But as the women finished dressing their kids in pajamas featuring Olaf the snowman from the new animated Disney movie Frozen, they started seeing amazing headlines appear on their Facebook pages - headlines they certainly didn't expect to see in 2013: "Federal judge strikes down Utah ban on same-sex marriage."

We were married in our pajamas while holding our two babies - and for the first time, the mountain of inequality in Utah was crumbling.

Jo remembers the exact moment: They were having a conversation, and it just clicked, immediately. "We were talking, and Lindi was able to hear my fears and somehow calm them - not by her words, but through her presence," Jo said. "I knew that her life would be about my life. I knew that her concern was for my happiness. And all of a sudden one day, in one conversation, I knew this was the girl I was going to marry."

After that conversation, Jo knew that she needed to see Lindi in person - she needed to give her a letter that she had written years prior, when she had had her heart broken and coped by writing a note addressed simply to "The One I Hoped to Find."

"I knew that letter was meant for Lindi, and for some reason, I needed her to have it right then," Jo said.

It read, in part: "The day I find you, I believe the words that were once familiar in my life will take on a different meaning - 'I know how this ends' will simply precede the words, 'Happily Ever After.'"

* * *

Jo and Lindi's marriage license in Utah was a reaffirmation of their marriage license from California, which they received on October 15, 2013. They wanted to be clear that they were married in their home state of Utah - and since they expect a long process of appeals and in-fighting in the state of Utah, they wanted to secure these state protections for their family, leaving nothing to chance or uncertainty or legal loophole.

"When we got home from getting our marriage license in California, none of it applied in Utah," Lindi said. "All of a sudden, our kids weren't legally both of our kids, medical insurance didn't have to be offered, last names couldn't easily be changed. We wanted so many things that people take for granted because they receive them so easily - and we had done everything we could to legalize our marriage. But none of it applied where we live."

When they received their marriage license this October, they Jo and Lindi were following through with the legal aspect of their wedding ceremony back in 2010, when same-sex couples did not have the freedom to marry in California.

They stood beside every member of their large families and declared their love and commitment for each other on the beaches of La Jolla, celebrating later with a larger reception in Utah.

Their ceremony included their 4-month-old daughter, Kylen, who they welcomed into their life in June 2010.

"She so quickly became the light of our life," Lindi explained. "There is something about this girl that is going to change the world - she is as amazing as they come."

Six weeks ago, in November 2013, they had their second daughter, Tyce. "We are so happy that we have each other," Jo said. "We are so grateful to be a family." 

* * *

Jo and Lindi received an amazing gift for their family this week in Utah - the power to legally say "I Do" in the state where they grew up, fell in love, and built a family.

On Friday, they stood in the county recorder's office with dozens of same-sex couples and hundreds of people who support marriage for same-sex couples. And that feeling itself - the feeling of legal respect, at last, in their home, felt amazing.

On Friday, were all there smiling, hugging each other, crying tears of joy. We were finally being treated as equals - finally enjoying that moment.

"The atmosphere on Friday was electric," Jo said. "I was so proud to be standing next to so many people who had dropped everything to run down and get married - people who had been denied the fundamental right for so long."

"They weren't bitter that they were getting married in hallways," Jo added. "They weren't angry that their required witnesses were complete strangers in line behind them. They didn't mind that their wedding day wasn't all about them, because they were sharing it with hundreds of total strangers. No - they were all there smiling, hugging each other, crying tears of joy. They were finally being treated as equals - and they were enjoying that moment."

Beach wedding photos by Pierre Olivier Photography, reception photos by Sy Snarr)