I met my partner Karen 17 years ago—and today, we’re as in love as ever. As a couple, we’ve followed a simple rule that has carried us through even the toughest of situations: be kind to each other. If we argue, it’s about the issue, not each other. We are a team first and foremost.
When Karen and I fell in love, we both brought children to the relationship. Together, we formed a tight-knit family, and it has been a wonderful ride seeing them grow up together.
My daughter, Toni, is the absolute light of my life. Seeing her and Karen bond was beautiful to witness, and I am so happy that my daughter and partner were able to have such a relationship.
But the only damper on our family life is brought only by Arizona’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. So long as Arizona’s constitutional amendment is on the books, it means that our family isn’t seen as a family in the eyes of the state. It means that Karen and I are nothing more than legal strangers to one another. And it means that our family is denied the critical protections and respect only marriage can provide.
Not having the freedom to marry sends a message that Karen and I aren’t as good or as capable as other parents, that we are somehow inferior. Parenting is hard—but Arizona’s marriage ban makes it even harder, as we have to work harder to get our children through their formative years with a sense of normalcy and self-respect in a state that tells them their family is less than.
Anything less or different than marriage still means that my family is different, that we are separate from society. The need to belong and provide is basic to humankind. As a mom, I just want to know that we can protect our children, no matter what. Since Karen and I are treated as legal strangers here in Arizona, that is often tough.
This Mother’s Day, moms like Karen and I are faced with the harsh reality that we are seen as second-class in our home state of Arizona. It is time to bring the freedom to marry to our state, so our family can finally be respected for what we are—a family who love and support each other no matter what.
Brenda Allen lives in Phoenix with her partner Karen. She is a sales agent.