LGBTQ couples and our marriages have the support of an overwhelming majority of Americans. Now we are speaking out in a new campaign to encourage all who support us to speak up with their votes. Our families have a lot to lose in this election.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, tossing out rights Americans have had for almost 50 years, we immediately saw the threat. Our rights will likely be the next to go, as laid out in the concurring opinion urging the court to reconsider Obergefell. The U.S. Senate then delayed a vote on codifying marriage equality until after the election. Our rights as a family are in the hands of judges and voters, a reality most couples never have to face.
But our love story is as extraordinary and ordinary as any other. We serendipitously met while sitting one in front of the other at a concert in 2002. We got engaged three years later on Christmas Eve 2005, with a “down-on-one-knee” proposal, and a scavenger hunt leading to two silver rings hung from a crystal cross tree ornament. We began our shared journey toward becoming a family after popping the question: Would you do me the honor of spending the rest of your life with me? The crystal cross is the final ornament we place on our Christmas tree each year with our children.
We had a quintessential chapel wedding in December 2007. Our parents walked us down the aisle, and our sisters and two best friends stood with us to witness our commitment, surrounded by family and close friends. Our wedding was not yet a legal marriage but it had every element of meaning important to any couple.
In 2011, we expanded our family through adoption. Despite the birth family choosing us as a couple, our state of residence considered us nothing more than roommates. One of us became our son’s legal adoptive parent, while the state relegated the other to the status of “other adult in the household.”
The fear and anxiety we faced as a committed couple, living in a state without marriage equality, led us to travel to Washington, D.C., in 2012 to make our marriage legal. After many conversations with each other and family, we decided to relocate to a state with marriage rights in 2014 — a choice we realize not all families can make. We started over with a young child, a new home and employment and no family and friends support system.
We worked with a local attorney to secure legal recognition for the non-adoptive parent, a process that involved legal fees, paperwork, and patience. We also amended our son’s birth certificate to include us both as his parents. In 2015, we expanded our family again when we welcomed our second child, whom we could adopt jointly as a married couple.
We felt secure returning to raise our sons near family in 2015, following the Obergefell ruling. It seems ancient history to think of all the steps we had to take to get the same legal recognition and protections as any other couples and parents. Since Obergefell, families of all shapes and sizes have been increasingly accepted and welcomed in communities.
Still, there is no doubt the court can take marriage rights away and will try. The risk to our family and all LGBTQ+ families is crystal clear and deeply troubling. For us, if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, a dormant constitutional amendment banning the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in our current state of residence would immediately invalidate the legal recognition of our marriage.
We got married because we love each other and we want to be there for each other. Our marriage helps protect our kids and us. We never want to worry about one of us not being allowed in a hospital room, being eligible for survivor benefits, or, God forbid, having our kids not seen as part of our family. All families deserve love and protection.
Equality for all families should not be a partisan issue. LGBTQ+ families already have the support of people from all parties. By sharing our story, we want to alert every LGBTQ+ and ally voter to take action to protect our family and our marriage. It’s time for politicians to catch up.
We urge voters to make a plan, know whether candidates support LGBTQ families, and, most importantly, send a message of acceptance and respect with your vote. Nothing will dissuade us from being a family, devoted to raising two children in an ever-changing world. Hopefully, a world that welcomes, embraces and protects all families.
Kent and Diego have been together for 20 years, married for over a decade, and are raising two beautiful children together. They are featured in an ad produced by GLAAD and Family Equality now running nationwide urging LGBTQ voters to the polls.