Pride Foundation supporters Catherine Bachy, Peg Giffels and daughter Ariana started their Monday morning with a 6 a.m. drive from Seattle to Olympia to participate in hearings on SB 6239 – the Marriage Equality bill.
As those prepared to testify at the Senate and House hearings were called at random, they didn’t know if they would have the chance to speak and share why they believe in marriage equality. There were hundreds of people eagerly waiting to speak – both against and for the bill.
With the lunchtime announcement that bill had gained the one additional vote needed to pass in the Senate – an important next step – their testimony took on an even more joyous tone when Catherine, Peg and Ariana were called to testify in the afternoon House hearings.
Here is why they support marriage equality.
We are Catherine and Peg and this is our daughter Ariana. We have been residents of Washington State for almost 20 years. Our daughter was born here. Peg and I have been in a committed partnership for 26 years. We met while we were serving overseas in the Peace Corps. Over our years together we’ve celebrated our relationship many times, the first time was in a “commitment ceremony” in 1990 – that’s what we called them back then.
In 2004 we went to Portland to get married in Multonomah County. Although we had been together for 18 years by then, the act of getting officially married was profound for us. I remember everything about that day so clearly, from standing in line in the early morning hours before the county offices opened, to filling out the paperwork, to having a minister perform a short ceremony in which he “married” us. I remember shaking my head incredulously and thinking, “wow, this has been denied us all these years.” It was so clear to us that through the denial of marriage we were denied our full dignity as adult members of society and that we were, and still are, treated as second class citizens.
The story of this marriage continues. It turns out (miraculously) that on this very day, in March 2004, our daughter was born. Two days later we took her home from the hospital and became her parents through an open adoption.
A year later we received a postcard announcing that our marriage license was revoked and our license fee refunded. By this time we were fully immersed in raising our infant daughter (you know that 24/7 joy and exhaustion of caring for an infant). Getting our marriage license revoked by postcard was a bizarre and hurtful experience. How would you feel? We were baffled and felt this gut level disappointment in the public officials that we expected to guarantee the rights of all citizens equally. We know we share this bizarre experience with thousands of other couples who went to Portland to get married in 2004.
Like all parents, we want the best for our child. Yet we live in a society that denies us a basic right (a social contract) that is a cornerstone of family life. We live with a nagging worry about the full protection of our child and ourselves in times of illness or crisis, even though we have put into place legal provisions to try to guarantee our protection. “Marriage” is the social contract that is fully recognized, yet we are denied this.
This also impacts what our daughter sees and hears from other people about the value of her family compared to other families.
Ariana (when asked how it makes her feel that her moms can’t get married, Ariana has said):
It makes me feel sad. It makes me feel like something is not complete, like there is a crater in my heart. I know my moms love each other so they should be able to get married. It’s not fair.
Join Pride Foundation and the Washington United for Marriage campaign today to help bring full marriage equality to Washington State.