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  • Ann and I met 33 years ago in Saginaw, MI, where we both worked at a local hospice organization. I was single and Ann was recently divorced from her husband. As our friendship grew, I realized that I was falling in love with Ann. She was warm, energetic, and a great mom to her five kids. I was stunned and elated to find out that Ann had been developing feelings for me as well. We fell in love and I moved in with Ann and her 3 teenage kids. Over the coming years, we shared a household which incorporated all the normal angst and joys of teenagers, as well as the death of Ann’s mother.

    Once the youngest was in college, we took a huge step: selling the house and relocating to Chapel Hill, NC where we both earned Master’s Degrees in Clinical Social Work. Since then, the children married and added 13 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren to our family. We have bought and paid off a home, entered and retired from new careers as therapists. We have lived a married life without the legal status of marriage.

    In 2012, we attended a training for an action called "WE DO," sponsored by the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE). Same-sex couples would request a marriage license at the County Clerk’s Office, anticipating a refusal but intending to make a statement about marriage equality in NC. We were interested but Ann was reticent, as it would risk public exposure. She was still working as a therapist and concerned about clients’ reactions if they were to become aware of her relationship with me. However, Ann was so inspired by the passion and commitment in a presentation by Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of CSE, that she turned to me and said “Let’s do it!”

    On May 9, 2012, one day after the passage of Amendment One in NC, we were one of three couples participating in the "WE DO" action. At the time, we had not realized that an AP interview, which we had agreed to, along with a photo of us at the "WE DO" action, would go viral. The next morning, there we were on the front page of the Raleigh News & Observer – a huge color photo of the two of us, with our names, under the headline “Obama Supports Gay Marriage.” The photo, along with our interview, had been posted on dozens of websites internationally. We were also shown on several local TV networks. We were stunned…so much for discretion.

    Incredibly, we experienced an outpouring of support from many total strangers and we were moved by this, as well as by our own participation. The experience had freed us to totally be who we were in every aspect of our lives. Even from Ann’s clients, from whom she feared condemnation, there was support. We decided to further commit ourselves to remaining active with CSE in supporting other same-sex couples fighting for marriage equality, as well as dignity and respect in their lives. The month following our "WE DO" experience, we traveled to D.C. to be married in honor of our 30th anniversary. We have continued to work for marriage equality and are thrilled that finally, our marriage has earned legal recognition in North Carolina. We hope that in sharing our story, we can help people to better understand our love and why marriage means so much to us.

    Barb Goldstein
    Durham, NC
    December 2014
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