Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Freedom to Marry Day Event in Tucson - Feb. 12


Marriage Equality USA – Arizona will request marriage licenses for local same-sex couple Buck Bannister and Michael Koch. Immediately following this denial there will be a small peaceful assembly outside the building in support of the couple, and all same-sex couples who are denied the Freedom to Marry.

Biographical information about the relationship history of Buck Bannister and Michael Koch is attached.

On National Freedom to Marry Day, February 12, 2009, from Noon to 1:00 pm

Pima County Clerk’s Office at the Superior Court Building, 100 W. Congress, Church Street side in Downtown Tucson

“No matter the strength or length of our relationships we remain legal strangers under our particular state law. All same-sex couples are denied the 1,138 federal rights of marriage,” said John Allard, Marriage Equality USA Arizona Chapter Co-Leader. “With the support of President Obama and with the growing sea change towards supporting protections for same-sex couples, we are hopeful that we can finally turn our attention to overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, and work together to uphold the American tradition of fairness and equality by ending marriage discrimination once and for all.”

For more information please visit Founded in 2000, Marriage Equality USA is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, at the federal and state level, without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation. For more information go to

Tucson “Freedom to Marry Day” Couple Bio - Buck Bannister & Michael Koch

By Buck Bannister

On January 27, 2007 I was facing the prospect of death. My liver had failed and I had been in the process of evaluation for a liver transplant. In December I had been given a 50% chance of living another year without the transplant. By January, though, I was deteriorating quickly and a year seemed optimistic.

That afternoon the Medical University of South Carolina called to tell me a liver was available for transplant and I should get to the hospital as quickly as possible. My partner and I had just celebrated our 10th anniversary on January 1st although the celebration was muted because of my illness and the fact he had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Michael bundled me into the car and drove me the 130 miles to Charleston, South Carolina from our home near Columbia. Once we arrived I was told I would need to shower and scrub my skin to remove before surgery. I was unable to stand because I was so ill so Michael undressed me and stood in the shower to hold me up while he scrubbed the poisons that had accumulated on my skin. My liver could no longer process the poisons in my body leaving my skin with a yellowish film.

After my surgery, Michael slept on the floor of a waiting room for 48 hours despite his pain from his untreated cancer. He had refused treatment for himself until we found out my fate. When I was finally moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a regular room, Michael slept on the floor in a sleeping bag while I recovered. He made sure that I did breathing exercises to prevent pneumonia and he memorized dozens of medicines and complicated regimen that I would have to follow after release.

On nights I could not sleep due to pain he would play his guitar and sing to me often drawing the nurses to the room to listen during their breaks.

When I was released from the hospital he made sure that I did everything necessary to insure my full recovery. He set out my medications until I had recovered enough to be able to remember them on my own, he made sure I took supplements to insure my body healed quickly, and he patiently put up with my swings between euphoria at being alive and depression at being alive because of the death of another.

Six months after my transplant, when it was clear I had recovered and immediate concerns about rejection had lessened, he decided to finally undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy for his cancer. Now, it was my turn to take care of him. During the process he became very sick from the treatments and had to be hospitalized a few times. I spent my time running between the hospital, taking care of our dogs and cat, and keeping his delivery business running.

During both of our illnesses we received wonderful support from both our "real" families and those people who became our family over the years. My brother took care of our pets and home during my time recovering in Charleston, my sister took me to appointments when Michael simply could not take time away from his work, Michael's father came from Arizona to South Carolina to help him while I was initially hospitalized after my diagnosis and while he was undergoing tests to determine the extent of his own cancer, and our friends Larry, Joyce, and Sarah filled in to help keep the business running whenever needed.

To those people who say that it is impossible for gay people to have deep and lasting relationships I simply point to my own. We have been through two life-threatening illnesses together and are closer than ever. In 2008, we moved to Arizona, where Michael had lived from 1975 until meeting me.

This year we celebrated our 11th Anniversary here in Tucson. Michael continues to write music and compose. I am finally pursuing a lifelong dream of writing a novel and volunteer for Arizona Donor Network speaking to groups about organ and tissue donation.

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