"Let's not touch that. Let's not even start going down that particular slope," she said. "Let's leave marriage to men and women. Let's call [same-sex unions] something else."
Gaver also views the fight as one for future generations — although for now, she says ruefully, neither of her two sons are in any hurry to marry or produce grandchildren.
"I'm patiently waiting," she jokes. She and her husband, Ed, also have a younger son, Joshua, 27, who is straight.
"We have dogs," Drew Gaver, 30, said dryly.
An unlikely activist
Judy Gaver, whose family has lived in Carroll County for at least seven generations, said that when her son came out, all she knew about gays was what was in the news at the time: the AIDS crisis and the beating death of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, in Wyoming.
"Honestly, in the beginning, it sounds so foolish now, but I didn't want anyone to know. 'What will the neighbors think?'" she said of her initial reaction. "No one wants to be judged, and you certainly don't want anyone to judge your children."
Drew Gaver was a freshman theater major at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel. During a visit to his parents' home in Westminster, he left his email account open on a computer and his mother saw messages to another man. That sped up a discussion that Drew already wanted to have with his parents.
Judy Gaver, a caseworker in the Carroll County Circuit Court community service program, turned to what was then the closest PFLAG chapter, in Howard County. There she found not just support and a community she considers family, but a cause worth fighting for as well.
"I never thought I would be the kind of person who would go down to Annapolis and talk to legislators," she said. She had never even been involved in political campaigns for local candidates or issues in Westminster. And, in her eyes, it has to be called marriage, not something else such as a civil union, if gays are truly to be treated equally under the law.
While the rest of the family supports her, Judy Gaver is the most active in the same-sex marriage battle.
"I'm not sure they're as much on the bandwagon as I am," she says of Drew and his partner, Luke Grooms, 33, an opera and musical theater singer.
"I would love for him to be a member of our family forever," she said. "I would love for him to be my son-in-law."
The couple met in Baltimore several years ago, when Grooms was touring with a production of "Phantom of the Opera." They now live in Philadelphia, where Drew Gaver works in reception and billing for a dental practice.
And indeed, Drew Gaver says, he has to remind his mother that there are reasons beyond the law, such as finances and timing, that he and Grooms may not be the first in line for a marriage license should Question 6 pass.
"We just are happy with the way things are now," he said. "We certainly want to have that as an option in the future."
For now, he says, he is grateful that his parents not just accept who he is but work for his rights — something that the families of his friends haven't always done.
Ed Gaver, 62, who works for an electrical distribution company, says the entire experience prompted him to "look at myself and my values."
Agreeing with his wife's description of him as a "Rush Limbaugh-listening Republican," he said he's since switched parties because of what he sees as the GOP's hostility to gays, such as the current party platform opposing same-sex marriage.
"I want equal rights for everyone," he said. "I think everyone should be treated the same."
Civil Marriage Protection Act
Establishes that Maryland's civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.
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