Maria and Amanda reside in Sierra Vista, Arizona, with their 11 year old son, Daniel. After meeting years ago while playing in a soccer league, Maria and Amanda quickly fell in love. “We have so much fun with each other. We are constantly picking on each other, laughing together, and being two feisty, stubborn, women with strong personalities!” Maria said.
The family enjoys spending their free time relaxing with friends and extended family members. “We are constantly juggling work and school, so it is nice to spend our down time just enjoying each others company. Our son also keeps us very busy, and is such a joy to be around,” Amanda said. “It’s great to have a home together in Arizona, near all of our friends. We have so many amazing memories here!”
The pair knew early on that they wanted to build their lives together, and in 2013, they began making plans to marry. The couple decided to marry in Seattle, Washington, which was one of the nearest cities where same-sex couples could legally wed. Maria and Amanda had discussed getting married, but had not had a formal proposal. Maria knew Amanda really wanted a grand romantic gesture to mark their special day, so she came up with a plan. “Amanda has always dreamt of a YouTube worthy proposal, but since that isn’t really my style, I came up with a middle ground,” Maria said. “As we arrived at the courthouse in Seattle, all dressed up to get married, I began to sing right there on the steps! I had rewritten the lyrics to Tom T Hall’s ‘I love,’ to symbolize our relationship, and serenaded her right then and there, with my terrible singing voice and all!” Amanda was taken by Maria’s gesture, and they walked hand and hand into the courthouse to make their love and commitment official.
Despite calling Arizona their home, when Amanda and Maria decided to solidify their commitment to each other through marriage, they were not able to wed here at home. Arizona does not offer the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, and Amanda and Maria were disappointed they were not able to wed amongst their family and friends.
“Since we had to travel out of state to get married, many of our family and friends were unable to attend. We had a small gathering of 8 people- including us and our son. Though we couldn’t get married in either of the sunny states we call home –Amanda is from Florida– we certainly brought the sunshine with us all the way to Seattle!” Maria said. “We couldn’t believe the great weather! Though it was a beautiful day, we would trade it in a heartbeat for a wedding in which we could have hosted more of our friends and family.”
While Maria and Amanda hope to have another ceremony in Arizona when the freedom to marry is extended to same-sex couples, their current reality is still uncertain. “For our family, some might say the freedom to marry is a moot point, but they would be so wrong! While we are legally married in Seattle, Arizona does not recognize us as such,” Maria said. “Everything we do is second-guessed because we do not live in a state that offers marriage equality. We have had to set extra safeguards in place to protect my wife’s rights to our son if anything happens to me.”
It’s time for Arizona to let all loving and committed couples, like Maria and Amanda, protect their family in ways only marriage can provide. While they are always concerned with protecting their family, the couple also knows their love is real, and wants our state to no longer treat their family as second-class citizens. “Marriage is a symbolic representation of the commitment we have made to each other. While there are rights, privileges and benefits now federally recognized for same-sex couples, there is also the intangible comfort and stability that being married gives to our family,” Amanda said. “Marriage is the ultimate promise that we made to each other to cherish the good times and stick it out through the tough times.”
Maria and Amanda, met, fell in love, and would have married in Arizona if they had been able. While they experience the same love, laughter, joys and tears as any other family, their relationship is not recognized in the state they call home. The freedom to marry is swiftly coming to more parts of the nation, and they would love to have the dignity of that recognition here in Arizona. They want to see their family protected by the same laws that protect other families, and their son grow up in a place where his family is respected. Without the endorsement of the state, their marriage is legally marginalized and many feel empowered to treat them as “less-than.” Maria, Amanda, and their son cannot wait for the day that their family is nothing out of the ordinary– when they are free to enjoy their lives as any other family.