Adam Cohen and Glenn Frankel didn’t plan to be married during their annual trip home to the United States from Pretoria, South Africa, where Cohen is director of the influenza program at the South African office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, Cohen and Frankel, along with their children, Lucy Cohen-Frankel, 7, and Noah Cohen-Frankel, 3, were getting into a taxi for the airport on June 26 when they received a call from Frankel’s mother saying that the U.S. Supreme Court had just overturned significant parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, ending federal discrimination against same-sex couples.
“We were overjoyed, of course, at the news, but the significance of it didn’t hit us until we got on the plane, and as we talked,” said Frankel, at right in the photo. The couple learned that the CDC, a federal agency whose policies follow those of the Department of Defense, would begin recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples. This was not always the case. When the family moved to South Africa, said Frankel, “I was not treated as a member of the family, I was treated as a member of the household, like I was a nanny or a grandmother.”
Frankel said, “We realized, this is our chance,” and after some investigation and the quick acquisition of their birth certificates, plans were made for a simple wedding.
Cohen, Frankel, their children and their parents, Marvin and Marcia Frankel of Williamsville and Stanley and Judy Cohen of Morgantown, W.Va., gathered for the ceremony at 4 p.m. July 16 in Williamsville Village Court. Village Justice Jeffrey Voelkl heard the couple’s vows.
On Aug. 7, 2004, the couple had a lavish celebration after a commitment ceremony in Seattle, where they met 12 years ago. “In our mind, that was our wedding,” said Frankel. “But it was very meaningful to be able to make it legal, and we wanted to do it in the public sphere because this was about the public recognition of our relationship. I didn’t realize how meaningful it would be just to be able to call Adam my husband until it became legal. It really made me pause.”
After the ceremony, the group took the children to play in a playground at Island Park, then shared dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Cohen is a graduate of Morgantown High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brown University, a medical degree from West Virginia University School of Medicine and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington.
Frankel is a graduate of Williamsville East High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University, and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Georgia Institute of Technology. Glenn is a software and website designer at Westat Inc.
Although both attended Brown University, they did not meet until they had each moved to Seattle, where Cohen was doing his pediatric residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Frankel was working at Microsoft. The couple then lived in Atlanta, before moving to Pretoria, where they are now back at home.
– Anne Neville