HONOLULU (AP) — Actor Jim Nabors says marrying his longtime male partner doesn't change anything about their relationship — he just wanted it to be formally acknowledged.
"I just wanted it legal," the 82-year-old actor best known as Gomer Pyle in "The Andy Griffith Show" told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Nabors married 64-year-old Stan Cadwallader in Seattle on Jan. 15. Nabors says they have been partners for 38 years.
Nabors said they flew from Honolulu just for the short ceremony and were married in a hotel room by a judge friend who drove up from Olympia, Wash.
Nabors said he's not an activist but feels strongly that gay marriage should be a right for everyone.
"I think every person on this earth has a choice of who they want to spend their life with," he said.
News of Nabors' marriage was first reported by Hawaii News Now. Nabors told Hawaii News Now he's been open about being gay with co-workers and friends but hadn't acknowledged it to the media before. He said he's not ashamed of people knowing, he just didn't tell people because it was "such a personal thing."
The couple met in 1975 when Cadwallader was a Honolulu firefighter.
Nabors told the AP that Cadwallader began working for him long ago and took care of his business affairs.
"He's my best friend," Nabors said.
Nabors became an instant success when he joined "The Andy Griffith Show" in spring 1963. The character of Gomer Pyle — the unworldly, lovable gas pumper who would exclaim "Gollllll-ly!" — proved so popular that in 1964 CBS starred him in "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."
In the spinoff, which lasted five seasons, Gomer left his hometown of Mayberry to become a Marine recruit. His innocence confounded his sergeant, the irascible Frank Sutton.
Gay marriage became legal in Washington state last month. Several other states allow it, but Nabors said he picked Washington because he didn't want to travel too far from his Hawaii home.
"I like the weather," he said. "Still, I froze my butt off there."