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Sarasota Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017 1 year ago

Love without boundaries: How one Sarasota couple fought for family and acceptance

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Brock Beason and Dave Edwards met in 1990. In 2002, they adopted a son, Matthew.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

Looking at the relationship of Brock Beason and Dave Edwards, it seems the Sarasota couple has been one step ahead of history for decades.

Beason and Edwards met in 1990, when they both worked at a Lazarus department store in Indiana.

“It was love at first sight,” Edwards said.

On their 22nd anniversary in 2012, they had a commitment ceremony to solidify their relationship, though legal gay marriage was still a dream, especially in Florida.

Dave Edwards and Brock Beason were married in March 2015. Courtesy photo

But in January 2015, a U.S. District Court ruling overturned the ban on gay marriage in the Sunshine State. Edwards and Beason legally married in March 2015.

A few months later, in June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples could indeed marry, citing the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

“I was shocked,” Beason said. “I mean, just floored.”

But even before those monumental cases were decided, Beason and Edwards took another matter into their own hands — growing their family. Because same-sex adoption was banned in Indiana in 2002, the couple moved to New York, where they could legally adopt their son, Matthew.

As the then 7-year-old Matthew sat before a New York judge, he answered a delicate question from the bench. What did Matthew want for his birthday? The answer was simple: Two daddies.

Matthew’s next answer sealed the deal. “What do you want from Santa?” the judge inquired.

Matthew said his dads promised they would move to Indiana where no one would ever hurt him again. And just like that, Dave Edwards and Brock Beason became Matthew’s parents.

Even the couple’s attorney was swelled with emotion. “It’s on me. If anyone deserves to have kids, it’s you.”

Two days later, the new family moved back to Indiana. That was in 2002. Indiana didn’t legalize same-sex adoption until 2006. Same-sex adoption is now legal in all 50 states.

In today’s political climate, Beason and Edwards are a tad concerned. On a scale of one to 10, Beason said he’s worried at about a level six. He’s worried about losing rights granted to same-sex couples by the U.S. Supreme Court. Because his husband had bypass surgery in 2014, Beason said if gay rights are scaled back, he would be prohibited from having a legal say in Edwards’ medical decisions.

Edwards, on the other hand, looks to the past and said he is only worried “a little bit” about the future.

“We’re legally married now, so I’m not as worried as I would have been a couple years ago,” he said.

Both Beason and Edwards came out to their families when they were 19, when being openly gay was a shaky endeavor. Both say their families already knew, but for different reasons.

Beason said his family didn’t disown him. Though his mother already had an idea her son was gay, others had some issues, Beason said.

In Edwards case, he just told his mother.

“I had told my mom that I had something to tell her and had a conversation,” he said. “I cried. She laughed because she told me she knew I was.”

Edwards said he’s lost some friends because he is gay, but some of those people have come around.

“You try to fit into what everyone expects,” he said. “None of my friends knew, so I had to pretend around them.”

In 2002, Beason and Edwards adopted Matthew in New York. Courtesy photo

And while Beason say they’ve been spared from discrimination that often surfaces when living openly as a same-sex couple, Matthew has been subjected to incidents that arose because he has two dads.

A boy in Matthew’s Indiana school kept picking on him. The school principal assumed it was because Matthew’s parents were gay, but that wasn’t the case. The little boy, who didn’t have a father, said it was unfair that Matthew got to have two.

In another instance, Beason’s and Edwards’ sexual orientation did came into play at Matthew’s school.

Matthew has ADD, ADHD, OCD, ODD and a mild form of Asperberger’s. After a disagreement over discipline, the principal of Matthew’s school told Beason and Edwards they shouldn’t be parents. 

Despite the principal ultimately being ordered to attend a class on tolerance, she was promoted the following year.

In 2009, the family moved to Sarasota so Matthew could attend Oak Park School, a school for special-needs students from pre-kindergarten to 22. Matthew has had no problems there, and Beason has worked there for the last seven years as a para-professional.

His favorite part of working at Oak Park School, Beason said, is seeing the impossible — something to which he’s no stranger.

“You can see when the children just make a special achievement that people might have thought was impossible,” he said.

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