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Engaged couple documents other same-sex pairs' nuptials


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Photo by Tauren Dyson. ShaDonna Jackson, left, and Lakisha Smith, right, launched “Shoot for Equality,” a project that celebrates same-sex couples’ weddings. The Capitol Heights couple is engaged to be wed next year.

Photo by Tauren Dyson. ShaDonna Jackson, left, and Lakisha Smith, right, launched “Shoot for Equality,” a project that celebrates same-sex couples’ weddings. The Capitol Heights couple is engaged to be wed next year.

Published on: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

ShaDonna Jackson and Lakisha Smith were crusaders. Today, they sat in their spacious living room together. During a photo shoot, Smith happily climbed on Jackson’s lap and both hammed for the camera.

Almost four years ago, the scene wasn’t as happy.

In 2009, the couple moved out of Washington, D.C., a city where same-sex marriages were legal, into a newly built townhouse in Capitol Heights.

And their battle hit a snag.

At the time, an appeals court in Maryland had already ruled a statutory ban on same-sex marriages constitutional. The couple, along with tens of thousands of other Maryland residents, pushed to make gay marriage legal and finally won.

Now Jackson and Smith are revelers.

With their goal accomplished, the two have recently engaged to marry next year, so in the meantime, they will attempt to photo-document the marriages of as many same-sex couples throughout the state as possible. Jackson and Smith’s “Shoot for Equality,” a project that celebrates the weddings of same-sex couples, has soared since its launch earlier this year.

“It was very much so an empowering circumstance to find ourselves in,” said Smith. “And people really gravitated toward supporting us and giving us feedback.”

“I really want to create a documentary for us to look back on,” Jackson said. “When I thought of it I said, ‘I don’t know if it’s a great idea,’ but everyone else said, you know what, love it.” 

With 177 likes on its Facebook page and thousands of positive comments supporting the movement, “Shoot for Equality” is not simply a flash in the pan but a movement in progress.

“I’m excited about the momentum,” Smith said. “With some of the friends we have involved … they have been great supporters to draw people in.”

And today, in mid-February here in Maryland, the two seem to have taken on a love for seeing other couple connect. Their Facebook page read: “We are wishing everyone the right to have their love be equal today and everyday! Happy Valentine’s Day!”

However, Jackson said some refuse to take part in the project, fearing reprisal from an employer or opponent of same-sex marriate. But that doesn’t slow Jackson’s shutter. However, lack of cash flow could.

Jackson, the photographer who captures the images of history, sees the next move in her goal of photo-documenting same-sex marriages as getting a grant or another source of funding to support the effort.

“At minimum, I need gas money,” Jackson said while laughing. “I don’t know about getting money or funding, but that’s the next step.”

Still, without anything but their own funding, the two manage to plug away with taking pictures and maintaining their site.

“We give thanks for everything we have,” Jackson said. “It’s about being committed to grow, as an individual and each other.”

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