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Marlin Nabors & Jonathan Knight

Jonathan and Marlin first met at a coffee shop in Indianapolis in 2004. From the beginning, they balanced each other out. Marlin is from Flint, Michigan, and worked at a college in the city; Jonathan is from rural Indiana and worked at an organic dairy farm. Marlin was fascinated by Jonathan’s quiet intellect; Jonathan thought Marlin was sophisticated and outgoing.

Six months later, a college in Boston offered Marlin a job in student housing. He and Jonathan decided to take the plunge, and moved to Boston in 2005. Jonathan found a job in financial administration at Harvard. They married in 2006, and bought their first home in Hyde Park in 2008.

But the federal government penalizes them for their marriage by making them file separate taxes and pay more than other couples. Since they married in 2006, they have paid thousands of dollars more in taxes than if they had been able to file jointly.

“For us, as a married couple just starting out, it’s a lot of money,” says Jonathan. “We just bought our first home and are working to fix it up. I do a lot of the work myself, and my dad even came from Ohio to help me install new appliances. But every penny counts.”

They have a solid foundation for their future together: the support of their families, friends, and community; good jobs; and a home. Marlin is now associate dean of students at Southern New Hampshire University. Jonathan recently received his B.A. in Extension Studies from Harvard University.

“We want to plan for a future in which we aren’t discriminated against just for being a married couple,” says Marlin. “We think our country can do better than having a system of first- and second-class marriages.”

As they grow in their careers Jonathan and Marlin know that their finances will change. As a couple whose marriage is treated equally by the federal government, they may pay more in taxes. It’s a price they’re willing to pay—for equality and for the safety net the federal government provides for spouses.