As a Pennsylvania native, Dawn wanted the couple to establish roots in her home state. Diana, who grew up in Alexandria, VA, was happy to move to Pittsburgh and finish her doctoral work.
Dawn, 37, works for an anti-poverty organization. Diana, 37, recently finished her Ph.D. and does research on improving the Pennsylvania economy for working people.
After many years together in love, Dawn and Diana had a commitment ceremony in front of friends and family in 2007. Since the freedom to marry is not extended to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, the couple is not able to formalize their commitment to each other through marriage.
“We want our marriage to be legal in Pennsylvania, in part because we deserve the same respect other couples enjoy,” Dawn said. “Every time we have to check the ‘single’ box on a form, it feels like a slap in the face.”
Dawn and Diana have a five-year-old son named Elijah and a 1 year old baby boy named Jude. They’ve completed a second parent adoption for Elijah and plan to do the same for Jude but first need to save up enough money to cover the expenses.
“We feel vulnerable because if anything were to happen to me, Jude has no legal tie to Dawn,” Diana said. “If we were legally married in Pennsylvania, this would not be the case because both spouses would be recognized as parents from the moment of birth. This is one of many complications we have to endure since we are not able to marry in the state.”
Their eldest son Elijah is beginning to understand what marriage is. He asks a lot of questions, and they struggle to come up with a way to explain to him why his parents aren’t allowed to get legally married. “It’s gotten so complicated to try to explain to Elijah why we can’t do this basic thing other families get to do,” Dawn said. “All he knows is that we love each other and are a family. That should be all that matters.”
It is time to move marriage forward for all loving and committed couples in Pennsylvania. All Pennsylvanians deserve to see their families treated with respect, and if we all work together, the freedom to marry can become a reality.