A happy marr… relationship

Scott Gruendl and Nicholas Goodey

… AND PEPPER MAKES THREE<br> Chico City Councilman Scott Gruendl and his partner, Nicholas Goodey, are devoted dog fathers—as well as the godfathers to a friend’s son.

Chico City Councilman Scott Gruendl and his partner, Nicholas Goodey, are devoted dog fathers—as well as the godfathers to a friend’s son.

Photo By Desiree Cousineau

Sitting in their living room Monday evening, their dog Pepper mostly staying to herself, Scott Gruendl and Nicholas Goodey detailed the arc of their 13-year relationship.

Scott: We met through a mutual friend …

Nicholas: We actually dated the same person. [laughter]

Scott: But beyond that, my life is very public and his is very quiet, so in order to add an aura of mystery, we’ll say that’s it.

How the relationship grew:

Scott: I don’t know, I guess I was desperate. [laughs] No, it was interesting, because he lived in upper Magalia, way up there, and I would commute from Willows after work to see him, so we grew over time. And I think we grew even closer because it was in the initial part of our relationship that I found out I was HIV-positive. Originally he was my rebound date, and we know how those things go, but apparently it’s been rebounding for 13 years.

My previous partner had passed away a couple months before we met. It takes about six months for the HIV antibodies to show up.

Nicholas: He had told me about his partner, and I told him, “I think you need to go get tested.” That’s how that came around. When he told me, I said, “We’ll, I’m not going to break up with you because of it.” That’s when we became really close.

Scott: I actually thought he would leave me when he found out. What a dummy! [laughs]

Nicholas: We didn’t actually move in together until about three months [after we met], and then we’ve pretty much been together ever since. His roommate at the time, Jackie [Winter], had gotten pregnant, and we needed to find a house with an extra bedroom for our godson [Bray].

Scott: We raised him for the first year because he’s fatherless, so we were the surrogate dads. I’m the one who cut his umbilical cord and gave him his first bath.

Nicholas: We see him constantly, at least every other weekend.

What keeps the relationship strong:

Scott: The fact that we don’t see each other … [laughter]

Nicholas: Lots of communication.

Scott: Yeah, I wish it was both ways. [laughter] He has a tendency to do things, then tell me … after the decision’s been made.

I think the other thing that helps in our type of relationship, a same-sex relationship, is jealousy doesn’t play a big role. We had some of that in the very beginning …

Nicholas: I could be very jealous …

Scott: … but over time, that hasn’t been an issue so I think that really helps. So that, the communication, and the fact that he’s a very good wife—he takes good care of me! [laughter] I don’t mean to be sexist in that regard, but because my schedule is so demanding, he’s sort of fallen into this supportive role.

The significance of marriage, symbolized by the gold bands on their ring fingers:

Scott: We were scheduled to do it, and the state Supreme Court put the kibosh on it three days before the appointment. So, we’d bought these suckers already, so we figured, “What the hell, we might as well wear them.”

For me, there’s a lot of symbolism behind it. I like to tell people I commit civil disobedience every day when I put this ring on—and I do. When I was mayor, it floored me that I had the power to marry others but I myself am not recognized to get married under the eyes of the law. So for us, it’s an equality issue.

Two years ago we went on a trip to Seattle to an event we go to every year, a gathering of openly gay elected officials. … That group always said it’s important for us to be out. Two years ago, the theme changed—it’s not just important for us to be out as elected gay officials but to be out as couples to put a face on the gay-marriage issue.

Advice for anyone in a relationship, gay or straight:

Scott: Be forgiving.

Nicholas: Definitely.