Laurie and Caroline, Married Lesbian Mothers of Three Sons, Fight DOMA For Their Family’s Future
Laurie and I first met in August 2005, we both joined an online lesbian dating agency called The Pink Sofa. When you are interested in someone you send them a smile, Laurie sent me a smile and I immediately smiled back! From that moment on we were both hooked; there was an instant bond between us. We had so many common interests and shared all our most intimate thoughts; it was like we had known each other forever. Even though Laurie was from Massachusetts and I was from West Sussex England that didn’t deter us. We believed that if we were meant to be together somehow we would find a way. Every possible moment we could spare was spent either sending “instant messages” and e-mails or talking on the phone. It might sound crazy to some but we actually fell in love without ever seeing each other in person. But soon all we desperately wanted was to actually be with each other. Modern technology could only do so much!
On October 4, 2005 I made the journey from London to Boston so that at last Laurie and I could meet face to face, we were both so incredibly excited waiting for that moment I would walk through the arrival doors at Logan Airport and we would see each other and be able to hold each other, really connecting for the first time! The moment came and it was incredible, we hugged and kissed, it was the most amazing time of our lives and one we never ever forget. Despite it being our first time meeting in person, we spent eight wonderful days together without a moment of disappointment or regret which only went to prove just how much we loved one another. The night before I had to leave we decided we wanted to commit to each other. We exchanged rings and celebrated with a bottle of champagne. It was a huge mixture of elation and sadness knowing that we wanted one another forever but that I had to leave the very next day to a country an ocean away.
Our parting was terrible but it only made us realize how hard we had to work to make sure we could be together all the time. That time came in November 2005. I luckily arranged to work from home so I could have more flexibility in my schedule to permit constant travel. Then as soon as I could, I headed back to Laurie in Boston. We both had family commitments and, so, like all other parents, we had to divide our time more equally. In January 2006, Laurie gave up her job in the medical field so that we could start a grueling bi-weekly travel plan, all so we could be together while also seeing our families. It is hard to describe to others the sacrifices we made during that time to be together; flying back and for twice a month from the U.S. to the U.K. to spend as much of our time together as possible. Still, we knew we wanted to settle down together.
On July 29, 2006, just shy of a year after we first met on line, Laurie and I got married in Massachusetts. We wanted to make “official” our relationship, our commitment to take care of each other through thick and thin, and our love for each other. We very much wanted a public ceremony to celebrate our love with our friends and family. Ours was a beautiful Hawaiian style wedding in which our three sons took part. One of our close friends officiated the ceremony and I sung “Both Sides Now” to Laurie as that was one of her favorite songs. We also wanted to include our UK family and friends, so we had another ceremony in Midhurst England on August 18, 2006. Again, our three sons took part, walking us down the aisle. We had a fantastic celebration that went late into the night. With our vows exchanged on both sides of the pond what more could we do to proclaim our love and commitment to one another? We spent our honeymoon on the big island of Hawaii. It was such a deeply loving time; it could not have been better in any way. The only bad thing was having to go back to reality!
As I was a photographer in the U.K. and Laurie had been a keen amateur, we decided to establish a photography business in the U.S. We know that this would enable Laurie and I to maintain a flexible lifestyle while keeping up with our extreme travel commitments. We did the bi-weekly travel for another 18 months. During this time Laurie, my two sons, and I traveled to India at the conclusion of a fundraising campaign I had headed up for tsunami relief. We had raised enough money to rebuild a tsunami-hit school in the Tamil Nadu region and were invited for the official inauguration of the school. It was an extraordinary trip that remains imbedded in all our minds and makes us feel so grateful for all that we have, and grateful for the precious, wonderful family we had become.
After 18 months of bi-weekly trans Atlantic travel we had drained our financial and emotional reserves; we had to make a new plan. We decided to commit to buying a home in the U.S. together and to start the process of establishing our life and business in one place. It was so good to call just one place home after all this time spent traveling, we even added a dog and cat into our fold too! Around this time Laurie’s dad had a massive heart attack followed shortly by a severe stroke which left him almost totally incapacitated. Of course Laurie wanted to be very close at hand at all times, especially as her mother had already passed away, so we decided that we needed to put down our roots in the U.S.
We have now been married almost seven years and our love has only grown deeper and stronger every day. During that time, we have made incredible sacrifices. We have drained our finances on travel and legal fees. To this day, the two of us struggle to keep up with our mortgage payments and maintain our photography business while also maintaining a loving environment for our children. In spite of all our hard work and sacrifice, there is not a day that goes by that we don’t appreciate starting this magical relationship of ours, and we hold on to it for dear life.
We have spoken with so many binational couples since we have begun sharing our story, and it is heart breaking to hear from couples who have been forced into leaving the United States. Laurie knows that our home is here and there is no way the federal government will force us out of this country just because we are a same-sex couple. We have been amazed by that amount of support we have received directly from celebrities and our wedding couples, not to mention our family and friends, it confirms for us that sharing our stories is the ultimate way to bring about change.
At the moment we are facing such a critical time, everything hangs in the balance as the Supreme Court considers the fate of DOMA. But we are not resting until a decision in June. We are fighting in every way possible to raise awareness of what DOMA does and how it is the cause of so much unnecessary suffering for gay and lesbian binational couples.
There are solutions available, long advocated for by the DOMA Project, which would treat same-sex couples fairly until there is a final decision on DOMA. Holding green card applications in abeyance would allow couples like us to start the process of having our family recognized. It would also permit me the ability to work and travel while our application was pending. We want and deserve our marriage to be recognized just like any other. We hope that in June we will be celebrating the end of DOMA. On that long-awaited day, Laurie will be able to petition for a green card for me as her wife. That day, we will finally be able to breathe easy, knowing that our future together will be secure. But until that day, we stand up for ourselves, for our three sons, and for every couple like us. Our action today is the only thing that will shape our future.