By: Courtney Huston
Meet Ryan Diedrich:
My cousin Ryan Diederich is 37 years old and lives in Edwardsville Illinois. He is a plastic and cosmetic surgeon at MidAmerica Plastic Surgery Center. He has taken multiple trips to Kenya performing surgeries to fix clef palates. In the summer of 2008, he visited Kenya with a group of surgeons from all over the country. There he met Dave Rude a plastic surgeon from Kansas City Missouri. While in Kenya, they were both assigned to perform surgeries in a town called Kisumu. The two had a very close relationship while in Kenya. This relationship continued long after they returned from the trip, and they have been together ever since. As of June of this year, same sex marriage has been legal in Illinois. Ryan and Dave got engaged in September and plan to get married next summer.
When I talked to my cousin about his relationship and how it's affected his life, he told me that growing up was very hard. He was made fun of and told me that he constantly worried about letting people down. He lost some friends because of it, but he told himself that if they were truly his friends, they would accept him no matter what. Luckily, his family was very accepting of him and when introduced to Dave, they welcomed him into the family with open arms.
Views on Same Sex Marriage in Illinois:
After seeing state after state accepting same sex marriage, Ryan told me that he hoped Illinois would soon be included in the list. In November of 2013, when same sex marriage was legalized, he was very happy. With the law going into effect, he knew that many people's lives would be changed. Recently, the number of people supporting same sex marriage has increased from 32% to to 53%. When I informed my cousin of this statistic, he was very surprised. Although it's now legal in Illinois, he feels that most people still do not accept the idea of 2 men or 2 women being together. He hopes that as time progresses, people will be more open to the idea. He said that you can't pick and choose who you love. It's something that just happens.
Other Personal Story:
Shannon and Michele Abello were together for 16 years before they could legally get their marriage license. The couple had their civil union ceremony in June of 2011, but could not get married until 2 years later. The couple has a 7 year old daughter and to her it seemed as if her parents were already married. She said that she liked having two moms. "I like being different than the other kids" said Shannon and Michele's daughter.