From Mike Silverstein, Commissioner, Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission:
Dupont Circle ANC has invited members of the Gardner Family of Machias, ME to be their honored guests at this year’s Capital Pride Parade. They live about an hour from the Canadian border, a four hour drive to the Portland Airport, and none of them have even been to Washington (at least not since the end of WWII).
91-year-old Harlan Gardner, a World War II veteran and retired mailman, featured his family in an ad for Equality Maine that many considered a game changer in the Marriage Equality referendum in Maine.
With four generations of his family seated around the table at their home, Mr Gardner mentioned that he and his wife Dotty had “been together for 59 years,” and that “marriage is too wonderful a thing not to share.” Harlan mentions how proud he is of his granddaughter Katie, and Dotty says she “hopes to see Katie and (her partner) Alex married legally.”
The ad resonated in Maine, went viral on the internet, and was the subject of a column in the New York Times that called Mr Gardner “the unlikely hero” of the Maine referendum campaign. Marriage equality forces in other states took note of the themes underscored in the Gardner Family ad, and sought to capture the “family values” issue for equality.
Harlan and Dotty Gardner, their granddaughter Katie Kurz, and Katie’s partner Alexandria (correct spelling) Patel will be flying down to Washington with Katie and Alex’s 13-year old daughter Mikayla. Other members of their family are hoping to meet them here.
Commissioners and community members have donated frequent flyer miles to help bring the Gardners to Washington, and a member of a classic car club has offered to drive them during the parade in a fully restored Chevy Corvair convertible from the early ’60s.
Dupont Circle ANC 2B is host to the parade, which begins and ends within its borders. The Parade is this Saturday, June 8th and it steps off at 430pm at 22nd & P Streets, NW.