SALT LAKE CITY — A 74-year-old woman cried tears of joy when a Utah state judge took the rare step of declaring her and her longtime lesbian partner legally married just months after her wife died.
Judge Patrick Corum last week declared Bonnie Foerster legally married to Beverly Grossaint, who died in May in Salt Lake City at age 82, The Salt Lake Tribune reported .
"I'm numb from happiness. I'm married," Foerster said through tears outside Corum's courtroom after the ruling. "I'm a married woman. I've waited 50 years."
Foerster met Grossaint in January 1968 in New York City under unhappy circumstances: Foerster was escaping an abusive husband. When Grossaint first saw her, Foerster had broken ribs and was wearing dark glasses to hide black eyes.
"Two seconds (after we were introduced), she came back and told me to take the damn sunglasses off," Foerster said. When she did, "(Beverly) said, 'I can see your soul.' And I fell in love. I looked into her blue eyes, and I fell in love."
The two moved in together shortly after that meeting.
Foerster said she and Grossaint, a veteran of the Women's Army Corps, marched in the first gay pride parade in New York City in 1970.
"We had people throw garbage at us," Foerster told the judge. "We went home, took showers and got clean. Those people still have garbage in their hands."
The couple moved to Utah in 1979 to be near Grossaint's ailing mother.
Grossaint was Foerster's caretaker for much of the past 30 years. She has had 29 back surgeries, survived breast and cervical cancer, and endured macular degeneration that has left her legally blind. Foerster also suffers from osteomyelitis, a rare bone infection, and, in April 2016, had to have both legs amputated above the knee.
Grossaint's health problems — emphysema and chronic heart failure — meant "I was her caregiver for the last three years," Foerster said.
The only question Corum didn't settle in Tuesday's hearing was the date that Foerster could consider herself and Grossaint married.
The petition, filed by Foerster's lawyer, Roger Hoole, set a date for June 26, 2015 — the day the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Corum suggested the date could be set at Dec. 20, 2013, the day gay marriage became legal in Utah.
Corum commented that the effective date could be pushed back to 1968, when Foerster and Grossaint began to live together, but "that makes it (legally) messier than it needs to be."