Friday, April 21, 2017

"A True Love Story..."


Christopher Inniss & Shelton Stroman 
Snellville, Georgia

The couple are among the named litigants who famously fought the marriage equality battle in their home state of Georgia and at the U.S. Supreme Court

This story was edited and adapted from multiple sources

Christopher Inniss, 42, and Shelton Stroman, 45, have been together for more than 17 years, raising their son Jonathan, 12.  The were among the named litigants in the challenge to Georgia's same-sex constitutional marriage ban which was eventually heard and decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.




Chris is a veterinarian and Shelton manages the Snellville Pet Resort, a business the couple owns together. At the time, Jonathan was old enough to understand that his parents weren’t married but he struggled to understand why.  Although they told him that they were still a family even if the State didn't allow them to marry, Jonathan wanted them to be married like many of his other friends’ parents. Chris and Shelton found it painful that they couldn't fulfill Jonathan’s wish. And they also knew that their family needed the protections and dignity that only marriage provides.

 "We just want to make sure that other families like ours are treated just like everyone else's family," Stroman said in a phone interview. "It's really hurtful and offensive that the state of Georgia is refusing to treat our families fairly."

As a child, Shelton Stroman and his fam­ily had pets. And when he was in college, he had a dog. But after his dog died, Stroman swore off pets.

“I was heartbroken. It was like losing a child,” he said.

But his love for animals remained and he quit a computer career to work at a veter­inary clinic as the practice manager where his then partner, now husband, Christopher Innis, worked.


“I met Chris and he was a vet and he had pets. I fell in love with his pets … and I went from working at a computer company to working at a pet hospital,” Stroman said.

Stroman managed the practice for eight years. Then, about five years ago, another company purchased the veterinary clinic. It was then that Stroman decided he wanted to strike out on his own.

He pitched his idea of a pet hotel and re­sort – an upscale boarding service – to Innis.

“And he was like, ‘Really?’” Stroman said, laughing.

But after a night of crunching numbers and careful consideration, Innis was on board, and their business, Snellville Pet Re­sort, became a reality, opening in 2011.

Stroman manages the business while In­nis, who works for Banfield Pet Hospital, serves as the resort’s doctor.


Stroman and Innis, who married in May 2016, were part of the Lambda Legal lawsuit against Georgia to bring same-sex marriage to their state. Innis was the lead defendant in the suit known as Innis v. Aderhold.


At home, Stroman, Innis and their son, Jonathan, have a Jack Russell terrier named Haley, a chihuaua mix named Rocco and a gecko named Mister.

Below, the couple in 2014 discuss the reasons why they choose to challenge the Georgia marriage ban:




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