My wife and I met one another as seventh graders in 1957 and began "going steady" the summer before our senior year. In 1966 we were married in a traditional ceremony that my dad conducted as pastor of our church. In our vows we promised "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part."
We became parents to two loving and wonderful children, and we now have three wonderful grandchildren. Our life together has been blessed with joy and happiness, but like any other couple, we've also struggled with difficulties and times of doubt and sorrow. Throughout my life, a ghost lurked in the furthest corners of my mind, This ghost was my true self, my identity that I could never reveal to anyone, not even to myself. I was paralyzed by fears that were I to reveal my true self, I would most certainly lose everything, including my very life. You see, I'm a transgender woman. When I finally came out to my wife as female in 2004, we both feared that our marriage would end on the rocks of gender transition, and we counted our time together in days instead of years.
Now that I'm finally whole in body and spirit, we've found new strength, individually and together. We've found new ways of expressing our love, new ways of walking through life as two women in a stronger and ongoing committed relationship that has changed in so many ways, and yet hasn't changed at all.
We have walked together through life in a federally legal marriage for 46 years. Our life together is about our deepening love and commitment to one another. Our life together is about sharing with one another and giving ourselves to one another. Our life together is about growing and changing in relationship to one another and our family. Our life together is about love and acceptance of one another for who we are, not for who society expects us to be.
Our love has not been diminished by my gender transition. It's the same love we have always had for one another. We have not given up in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and our family has grown in support and understanding and love for us and for one another. Our marriage is no different from any other committed and loving relationship between two married people.
Our commitment to one another is the same commitment that our God of love and justice has made to each and every one of us: to love us rather than hate us, to care for us rather than abandon us, to free us from oppression rather than oppress us. I believe that those who would suggest that our marriage to one another is less valued than that of other people, or that our marriage should not be valid, devalues the true meaning of marriage.
Our marriage doesn't redefine marriage, and it doesn't threaten or change anyone else's marriage. Our marriage is about love and faithfulness irrespective of gender and my gender transition. Our marriage reaffirms our ongoing, nearly lifelong commitment that strengthens our family and society.
We will vote "no" to the proposed amendment to the Minnesota constitution that would restrict marriage to one man and one woman. It's our prayer that all loving couples might one day unite in marriage that seals their loving commitment to one another "till death us do part."