Documenting Same-Sex Couples and the Defense of Marriage Act

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The Long March to Equality

“I know we will raise our family in love, but on this Martin Luther King day 2012, I dream that we will soon be able to raise our family knowing that we are supported by the legal protections afforded to other married couples.”

The Long March to Equality

My wife and I got married a year and a half ago with family and friends there to support us. But, because she was in the military and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was not yet repealed, we couldn’t sign up as domestic partners in Washington State. We wanted to have something to sign at our wedding, so, borrowing a tradition from the Jewish faith, we had a friend design a document that incorporated our vows in an artistic way. We then signed it, framed it, and have it hanging in our home as a reminder of our daily love and commitment to each other.

Now that the military has relocated us to California and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been repealed, we are domestic partners. We are waiting for Prop 8 to be overturned so that we can actually sign a marriage certificate. However, even with that paper, we need to wait until the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed at the federal level before the military would even consider giving us the sorts of benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples; benefits like extra dependent pay, health insurance, and access to base facilities. Seems like a lot of waiting…

But we aren’t willing to wait any longer to start our family. With the possibility of my wife being deployed in 2013, we are looking to have a baby through artificial insemination so that she can be here through the pregnancy as well as the birth. We actually tried once last year at home on our own (before DADT was repealed) but it didn’t take. Perhaps it was just as well. We are now in a better position to have a baby that, thanks to our domestic partnership status in California, I believe we can both have our name on the birth certificate. That gives us at least some piece of mind. I am grateful that our recent relocation was the California instead of Florida or Virginia where the laws are even more backwards and harmful for families like ours.

Inseminating is an expensive process, so we saved up to try again this year with the help of a doctor. I have individual insurance that we pay for out of pocket, but it doesn’t cover any of the artificial insemination process. We don’t really have a lot of extra income at this time, which means that we really only have this once chance. Otherwise we will have to wait and save again for after her return home…perhaps even looking into adoption instead.

I know we will raise our family in love, but on this Martin Luther King day 2012, I dream that we will soon be able to raise our family knowing that we are supported by the legal protections afforded to other married couples.

In my vision of my life, I saw lace and flowers. I saw my father walking me down the aisle, as so many little girls do. I saw the love of my life and I exchanging rings and sharing a last name. I saw us starting our life together; working hard to buy a house and provide for a growing family. I have been lucky enough to have all of these things. I just didn’t envision the legal blockades with the sort of impenetrable intolerance that I can’t look in the eye and explain my story to. I did not anticipate this external denial of what I know is true. I am married. I have a loving wife. We hope to have our baby soon. So I feel so odd when I have to answer questionnaires that say are you married or single because it matters if it is a federal document, a state document, and if domestic partnership can be considered marriage or not.

I feel helpless…signing whatever petitions I can online and giving a little money here and there to help…just waiting for those who have the power and influence to change the rules in my favor, in favor of equality. So I thank you for the work you are doing to share your story and the stories of others like you. I know we will raise our family in love, but on this Martin Luther King day 2012, I dream that we will soon be able to raise our family knowing that we are supported by the legal protections afforded to other married couples.

-Danielle Ward

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