Reno, NV (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - With a wink here and a smile there, Brian Jensen, 30, and Jeromy Manke's , 26, love story began three years ago with a culmination of little moments; but one pinpoints the second Brian fell in love.
“We was out of a town for a week,” recalls Brian. “He had someone bring me my favorite coffee and a note saying, ‘I really want to make sure you're smiling.’”
They say serendipity brought them closer and to a Spanish castle during a trip to Europe in 2012.
“Brian asked me to go for a walk with him, under the moonlight,” saya Manke. “He got down on one knee and proposed... Kind of hard to say no to that!”
They've set a date to exchange their vows, but in their home state of Nevada, same-sex marriage is illegal. So they entered a nation-wide contest, the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, “My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding.”
It's part of a campaign to shed light on the patchwork of state laws that allow same-sex couples in 16 states to marry, but not in the rest of the country.
“I think a lot of Americans thought the fight was kind of over,” says Jensen. “Federall, now it's recognized, but now it’s come to a state level. We need to focus more on our home state.”
The ACLU will help five couples with the best ideas for a border-hopping wedding go the extra mile. Manke and Jensen are top three finalists.
“Our idea was to pay homage to the settlers [and] cross the border on horseback,” says Jensen. “Just to show that struggle they had to make to cross and get a better life.”
Manke says their next chapter would have to be in California. However, this week, Nevada abandoned its defense of the gay marriage ban. A move, they say, is one step closer to equality, but their love can't wait.
Even with support of family and friends, Jensen and Manke know some may object to their union.
"We want to celebrate our love and have it be recognized in a way that affords us the same rights and benefits as other couples,” says Manke. “Our goals are to be together for the rest of our lives, build a family, and that's what we really want.
If you would like to help Brian and Jeromy win a prize in the ACLU’s “My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding” contest, voting runs until Sunday. You can vote for them here