by Rebecca Brannon and Joan Anderson (and their son, Seth Anderson-Brannon)
Before there was the hope of marriage equality in any state we have lived in, there was the joint checking account and the leap of faith involved in pooling your money and your life without the legal and emotional protections of legal marriage. And we took the leap after dating for two years—knowing we wanted to show our commitment to each other and to our shared life, including our hope of having children.
We met when we were both almost done with graduate studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We are so lucky that one night I went to socialize after reading in the library until 10 pm, and randomly met a nice young friend of Joan’s who noticed that we both danced the same way—and set us up. (We are still not sure whether she thought we danced the same way because we move in the same way, or whether we dance the same way because left to our own devices we tend to burst into movement to a song that is often only in our own head. I guess we fit well either way.) The rest is history!
Then there were the repeated moves from state to state for jobs, and the efforts to have a child. Since Virginia does not allow second parent adoption (the process of the non-biological but very much in the picture parent adopting the child to have a secure claim absent the ability to marry), we had to hire a lawyer and move to Maryland every weekend for almost three months in order to arrange legal parent recognition for both of us. Our inexpensive short-term rental apartment turned out to have only a space heater, so our 6-week-old son slept under the space heater while we shivered a few feet away.
We would like to get married because we love each other and we already live the reality of that commitment. We want our son Seth—and any additional children—to have the same protections other children have. Every day when we pick up from day care, he proudly points out the picture of the three of us all together. Seth knows we are family and he is so proud of his loving family where he is secure. Now let the state of Virginia catch up to Seth’s reality and give him the protection he deserves.
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