The kiss didn't make the final cut. But Jared Milrad, 31, and Nathan Johnson, 30, sure did — the young Chicago couple featured in Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign kick-off video have very quickly become two of America's best known soon-to-be-weds.
Just a few weeks ago, the men were busy preparing for their summer wedding. They had settled on a date (July 19) and found a location for the ceremony (a park near Lake Michigan). An LGBT community center in Chicago would host the reception.
But that all changed a little after 3 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, when they appeared, hands clasped together, in Clinton's first campaign video. By mid-day Monday it had been viewed nearly 2.7 million times on YouTube alone.
Getting the call: After being put in touch with a media firm by a friend who works in Democratic politics, the couple met with a videographer who "mostly asked us about our wedding and our marriage. We said how excited we were to begin our lives together as a legally married couple in Illinois," Milrad told Mic on Monday. "There was also a little about why we support Hillary, which we were happy to do."
"We spoke for a little over an hour, mostly about how met, what we were excited about," Milrad said. "The [production team] actually asked if we would kiss, which was funny because we awkwardly tried to kiss and it didn't work and we all laughed."
The couple weren't told much about the video — just that it was part of a project to "support Hillary Clinton." The producers, Milrad explained, were "working on a video about people who were undergoing big life changes." With their wedding date nearing, the couple were an ideal fit.
"They asked us to say what we were excited about," Milrad said. "So we said the line that we were 'excited to marry someone this summer that we really care about.'"
They spoke for more than an hour, discussing how they met as grad students at Tufts University a few days after President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, then moved in together after adopting a dog, Cooper. But all of that, even Cooper (whose leash you can make out in the scene showing the couple walking together), ended up on the cutting room floor.
For the Clinton team's purposes, that one line said it all.
"A lot of the video was just the idea that we found soulmates in each other, that we care about each other, that it's not about gender or sexuality to us, but it's just about finding the person you love and want to marry," Milrad said. "And we think every human being on the planet should have that right and that freedom."
An "evolved" ally: As recently as early 2013, Clinton's position on gay marriage was, at best, an open question. Throughout the 2008 campaign and her time as secretary of state, Clinton either openly opposed gay marriage or remained painfully mum on the subject. It wasn't until March 18, 2013, that she declared same-sex couples "full and equal citizens" who "deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage."
"I support it personally," Clinton says in a video, "and as matter of policy and law."
Milrad and Johnson are sympathetic.
"A lot of us have evolved," Milrad told Mic. "As our friends and family sort of learn more about who we are, that we're just like anyone else, just want to be happy, to have the freedom to love whomever we choose, we've all kind of evolved to see it as just a basic human right."
He pointed to Clinton's work as a diplomat and global political activist, in particular her statement that "gay rights are human rights" and support of the LGBT community in Russia as proof positive the candidate has been and would continue to be a trustworthy ally.
As for the video, Milrad told Mic he enjoyed the final product. "It was a really forward-thinking and optimistic and in some ways even lighthearted vision for the country," he said. "And it reminded both of us many of the people we grew up with, Nate in small-town Michigan and me in New York City and New Jersey.
"It's a diverse country, generally very accepting, a very generous place to live."