Bonnie Foerster, 74, cried tears of joy last week, after a Utah judge declared her legally married to her partner of 50 years — just months after her wife had died. Beverly Grossaint, Foerster’s ‘soul mate’ since meeting in 1968, died in May at age 82.
“I was born for her, and she was born for me,” Foerster told Judge Patrick Corum.
“I’m numb from happiness. I’m married,” Foerster said in tears after the ruling. “I’m a married woman. I’ve waited 50 years.”
When the women were introduced in New York City in January, 1968, Foerster was escaping an abusive husband. She had broken ribs and was wearing dark glasses to conceal bruised eyes. “Two seconds [later], she came back and told me to take the damn sunglasses off,” Foerster told The Salt Lake Tribune. “[Beverly] said, ‘I can see your soul.’ And I fell in love. I looked into her blue eyes, and I fell in love.”
They quickly moved in together, and the couple marched in the first gay pride parade in New York City in 1970. In 1979, they moved to Utah to be near to Grossaint’s mother, who was unwell. And, 39 years later, on May 27 this year, Groissant died.
For much of that time, Grossaint also acted as a caretaker for Foerster, who has undergone 29 back surgeries, suffered breast and cervical cancers, and macular degeneration that has left her legally blind. A rare bone infection, osteomyelitis, required her to have both legs amputated above the knee a couple of years ago. In turn, Foerster cared for Grossaint in the last years of her life, as she endured emphysema and chronic heart failure.
Foerster said the health issues — and the fear their marital status could interfere with her Medicaid coverage — are the reasons they didn’t marry when it became legal for them to do so.
Having a marriage made legal after one party has died is rare but not without precedent. “An unsolemnized marriage can be recognized, even involving a deceased person,” Foerster’s lawyer, Roger Hoole told the court, citing common-law marriages.
After the ruling, Corum left the bench to give Foerster a hug. “There’s no bailiff here,” he said. “Don’t tell anybody.”
Holding two small rainbow flags, Foerster was then wheeled from the courtroom. “I’m an old bride, but I’m a happy one,” she said. For more on the story, watch the video below.
Read the full story at The Salt Lake Tribune.