By Amy Cannata (Communications Director)

Two years ago, six wonderful, brave and loving couples partnered with the ACLU to file a lawsuit against the state of Montana, seeking legal recognition of their committed same-sex relationships.

I immediately took to these 12 warm, generous and fun people. They were so in love with each other and so optimistic about life and the prospect of domestic partnerships in Montana.

Today I love them all the more, and, I, too, am optimistic about their future here in Montana. Tomorrow they have their day in front of the Montana Supreme Court as we appeal the District Court decision against their case, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. Montana.

In the two years we've been working together my admiration of these six couples has continued to grow. Not only are they in this case for their own relationships, but they are truly committed to helping other same-sex couples, now and into the future.

  • Mike Long and Rich Parker (pictured above) are two of the most generous and loving men. They are devoted to each other and their 19-year-old son, Kevin. I've never seen two prouder papas.
  • Jan Donaldson and Mary Anne Guggenheim are doting grandmas with a refridgerator covered with photos of their grandkids. They seem to have a bottomless capacity to take care of family, friends and their community in Helena.
  • Kellie Gibson and Denise Boettcher opened their home to a young, adopted son, in addition to the daughter they were already raising together. In an KULR-8 interview earlier this week, it's easy to see their love for each other and their committment to helping all gay and lesbian people in Montana.
  • Mary Leslie and Stacey Haugland are bright lights in Bozeman. One feeds your body at the Co-op, the other delivers your babies. They are the type of women who instantly make you feel at home and like you have been friends for decades.
  • MJ Williams and Nancy Owens of Basin are creative free spirits. Together they are an unstoppable force for good, always extending a hand to the people around them and creating a better Montana for artists and the community as a whole.
  • Rick Wagner and Gary Stallings have the kind of smiles that can't help but make you smile right back. Quick with a joke and so in love with each other, it's a joy to spend time with them.

In the two years I've had to get to know all these couples, I've learned a lot about what it means to love another and to be committed to what is best for your partner. They are my inspiration.

Regardless of how people feel about same-sex relationships, I truly believe that most Montanans understand that it is not anyone's place to stand in the way of other couples' happiness.