| AMY TANNENBAUM
Growing up across the country – Clara in Arizona and Betsy here in Ohio – it was a mutual love of country singer Chely Wright and a retweet that brought them together. Betsy had just watched Chely’s coming out interview on Oprah and thanked Chely in a tweet, which Chely retweeted. Clara took notice and promptly reached out. Betsy, fresh off a bad breakup, had her guard up, but felt flirting over Twitter with someone 1,800 miles away seemed harmless enough. Several tweets and direct messages later, Betsy offered up her digits. Betsy says, “About a month before Carly Rae Jepson sang it, I gave her my number with the line, ‘call me maybe?’”
Betsy was ready to take another chance at love, but a born skeptic, she wondered if Clara was too good to be true. “From the start, we just clicked,” Betsy remembers. “She laughed at my jokes, she had perfect teeth, she called and talked to me every night before I went to bed – despite the three hour time difference. Part of me thought I was getting punked.” When Clara came down that escalator, Besty got instantly nervous and hid behind an airport worker. “She was real, she was here, and all the butterflies that had ever lived or flown in the entire world were now inhabiting my stomach,” Betsy shares.
Six months flying back and forth between Ohio and Arizona followed, racking up plenty of frequent flyer miles. Betsy had made her loyalty for Ohio clear from the start and vowed that she would never leave. So Clara moved across the country to be with Betsy – and her toy shih tzu pup, Punkin.
In September of 2013, they travel to Las Vegas for their birthdays – which are just three days apart – where Clara popped the question to Betsy on top of the Eiffel Tower replica in front of the Paris Hotel. Betsy said yes and returned the favor several months later, surprising Clara with a ring in Nashville.
With their upcoming Columbus wedding in May just around the corner, Betsy and Clara are busy finalizing all the details. At the time of their engagement in 2013, they decided to plan a wedding in Ohio a year and a half out, with the hopes that marriage equality would be reality by the big day. “It’s important for us to get married in Ohio, because it is where we live,” explains Betsy. “We were ever so hopeful last year when the district court in Cincinnati took on the appeals for our state and a few others, that it would be settled, but here we are, still waiting to be equal.” They were considering the idea of going out of state to at least get married legally, but are holding out in the hopes that a SCOTUS ruling may come in June.
Unfortunately, they don’t have the support of everyone in their families. While Clara expects two of her siblings to be at the wedding, both Betsy and Clara will have deeply religious family members opting not to attend. Fortunately, Betsy and Clara have a strong network of friends as a source of support. “I am so fortunate to have an amazing and loving group of people that I have grown up with, and met over the years from various places or backgrounds,” says Betsy. “Their support is what has helped me through some dark days.” And they plan to do it up right. “We cannot wait to spend that day with those that love and support us,” says Clara. “It is going to be quite a party!”
As Clara and Betsy plan a future together, they see it here in Columbus. A typical day for them is spent with Punkin, cooking together, antiquing, watching the occasional drag show and wedding planning. “Columbus is home,” Betsy proclaims. “I’m a realtor and Columbus makes my job easy. It is not hard at all to sell people on this city!” Including Clara. “I tell people back home and everywhere I go, including natives, how electric and great this city of Columbus is,” Clara says. “The diversity, the nightlife, everything. And I definitely converted and became a Buckeye fan!”