Both women were born in Brooklyn, Berman in 1934 and Kurtz in 1936; they met in the late 1950s and became friends. Both were married to men and had children at the time. Kurtz moved to Israel with her family in 1970, and when she returned to visit America in 1974, she and Ruthie fell in love. They divorced their husbands and became a couple.
In 1988, Berman was a health and physical education teacher at a Brooklyn high school. She and Kurtz sued the New York City Board of Education for domestic partner benefits in 1988, eventually winning in 1994. The couple went on the talk shows The Phil Donahue Show and Geraldo to talk about the case, and came out of the closet on Donahue in 1988.
Berman and Kurtz started branches of Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Florida and New York, and in 2000, they began serving as co-chairs of the New York State NOW Lesbian Rights Task Force. They also founded The Answer is Loving Counseling Center (they are both certified counselors) and worked there for over twenty years. They were married on July 26, 2011, in New York. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum officiated.
In 2002 a documentary titled Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House was made about their lives, directed by Deborah Dickson. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2002, and won six best documentary awards within a year. The Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz Papers are held in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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