Harris Wofford has had two great loves: his wife of 48 years and his soon-to-be husband.

"At age 70, I did not imagine that I would fall in love again and remarry."

So begins an emotional and poignant personal essay from former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford published in The New York Times on Sunday.

The story Wofford tells is one of two loves, growing old, history, and a changing of tides.


Wofford campaigning for Barack Obama in 2008. Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images.

On Jan. 3, 1996, Harris Wofford lost his wife, Clare, to leukemia.

They had been married 48 years; "a lifetime together," he wrote. When Clare died, Wofford felt lucky to be alive and grateful to have a job where he could serve his country, but understandably, he felt lost as well.

Wofford and Usher (!!!) at a hearing on improving America's commitment to service and volunteerism. Photo by Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images.

"I wondered what it would be like living by myself for the rest of my life. I was sure I would never again feel the kind of love Clare and I shared," Wofford wrote.

Yet, at age 75, Wofford found love again.

According to Wofford, he was standing alone on a beach in Florida when he was approached by two men who came over to say hello. That was when he met then-25-year-old Matthew Charlton.

"As we talked, I was struck by Matthew’s inquisitive and thoughtful manner and his charm," wrote Wofford. "I knew he was somebody I would enjoy getting to know. We were decades apart in age with far different professional interests, yet we clicked."

Pretty soon, the two were touring Europe together and meeting each other's families. In time, Wofford's children welcomed Charlton as part of their family, and Charlton's family did the same for Wofford.


Wofford was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2012 for his service to the country. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

As of Sunday, Wofford and Charlton have been together for 15 years. Soon, they'll be getting married.

"On April 30, at ages 90 and 40, we will join hands, vowing to be bound together: to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part."

There are many reasons why Wofford's story about his second great love is so notable: his age, his history, his career in politics, his romance-novel courtship of Matthew — to name a few.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of this story, however, is the fact that Wofford was born in 1926, long before there was an active LGBT rights movement and a time when doctors still treated homosexuality as a mental illness.

Despite decades of socially-constructed ideas about gender and sexuality, Wofford has embraced love for what it is: something beautiful, something unpredictable, and something that is for everyone.


Wofford was 89 when the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage the law of the land. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Wofford knows that something as simple and as complicated as love can't be put in a box and labeled.

For 48 years, he loved a woman, and now he loves a man. It doesn't mean he's a different person or that his 48-year marriage to Clare wasn't special. It simply means he's not afraid to love who he loves.

"I had a half-century of marriage with a wonderful woman and now am lucky for a second time to have found happiness."

Frankly, we should all be so lucky.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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