Love Is Louder: Dean & Rob's Story
Dean Hanson & Rob Steinfeld
Editors’ Note: This story was written by Tierney Tran in partnership with Equality Florida.
“It was like lightning,” Dean Hanson, 51, recalls upon meeting his future husband, Rob Steinfeld, 48.
The two met on a cruise from Tampa, FL to Mexico and immediately felt an attraction that would form into a life-lasting bond.
“I thought, ‘Wow! Handsome, athletic, intelligent, great sense of humor.' But as I got to know him I truly fell in love with what was on the inside,” Rob remembers.
Six weeks into their relationship, Rob felt that he needed to speak with his father. He had not yet come out to his family. Dean strongly advised that Rob not say anything to his father, knowing that he would likely not approve. However, Rob felt too strongly about Dean to keep it a secret.
Rob’s father reacted as Dean had expected, coldly. He made it clear that Dean was unwelcome, even during holidays.
“If you can’t accept both of us, then you are losing a son,” said Rob.
However, Rob’s mother was quick to accept Dean.
“She has truly treated me like a son. I love her like a mother,” said Dean.
They carried on, without the approval of Rob’s father. Though they initially lived in different cities, Dean in Tampa and Rob in Orlando, they never missed a weekend together. Eventually, the two moved in together, first living in Orlando, then Tampa.
At 7 a.m., the phone rings; it was Rob’s Dad. The Defense of Marriage Act had been struck down by the Supreme Court of the Unites States; this was the headline of every paper.
He said, “You two need to get married immediately!”
On Christmas they flew to New York City and on December 27, 2013, were married. Though they had wanted to marry in New Jersey, Rob’s home state, it was not yet legal. However, Dean and Rob had close friends in New York City who would bear witness to their marriage.
The families were brought together and Dean says, “Common love brought us all together and here we are now.”
But they both knew that when they returned home that they would be legal strangers, “It would be really nice if my home state would recognize what I’ve worked so hard to build,” Dean thought; he is a 6th generation Floridian.
“We would have loved to get married here, so we could share the special day with friends and family, but we were not sure that it would happen,” said Rob.
It was hard for them to understand why their home state would not recognize their union. “I’m just like you, same hopes dreams worries and fears,” thought Dean. But they still had to wait, like many other loving couples in various states.
January 6, 2015, was a huge day for Dean and Rob. The ban on marriage had been lifted in Florida. “I wore my "Love is Louder" T-shirt and smiled all day. That day felt almost as good as our wedding day. Finally, we were whole in our own home in our own state,” said Dean.
Now Dean and Rob enjoy feeling safer at home with their three dachshunds: Astro, Charlie and Dexter. They will be celebrating 20 years together on March 15th and continue in the fight for marriage equality on a federal level.
“Does this mean we could get divorced now?” Rob jokes
“You’re stuck with me, big boy,” Dean laughs.