By: Amy Cannata (previous Communications Director)
When the ACLU of Montana first began exploring the possibility of a lawsuit seeking domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, it's something I wanted to work on because I knew it was right -- all couples deserve to be treated fairly.
But like with many of our cases, my feelings changed as I got to know the plaintiffs involved. My commitment to the principle remains, but my desire to win this for the wonderful couples involved has grown even stronger.
So I'm very happy that we are appealing our case, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana to the Montana Supreme Court. These couples need domestic partnerships. Montanan values of fairness and to live and let live demand that they and other same-sex couples be able to get those domestic partnerships.
I can vividly recall my first long conversations with each of the couples. They have all touched me deeply in many ways.
I cried when Mary Leslie (pictured here, on the right, with her partner, Stacey Haugland) told me about her previous partner's death and how she was denied death benefits, inheritance rights and even any say in where or how her partner was buried.
I've cheered along with Mike Long and Rich Parker as their son, Kevin, won the state championship in football, graduated from high school and was accepted into the college of his dreams.
Mary Anne Guggenheim's and Jan Donaldson's beautiful grandchildren and their adoration of their grandmas makes me smile from ear-to-ear.
Marching with these couples and our other domestic partnership plaintiffs -- Kellie Gibson and Denise Boettcher, Rick Wagner and Gary Stallings, and MJ Williams and Nancy Owens -- in the Pride parade in Bozeman in June was a chance to walk beside my heroes.
This really is where the key to our work lies. I know these couples and care about them. Principles move people, but personal relationships move them more.
That's why in our Tell 3 training program we urged gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to talk openly about their experiences with family, friends and coworkers, and for straight allies to talk about their LGBT friends.
Fair is fair.