By Angie Rolando Plaintiff in the ACLU of Montana's marriage equality case
While Tonya's and my journey into the challenge against Montana’s ban on same sex marriage began in Great Falls in May 2014, our journey began nearly six years ago.
At that time, when our love was brand new, it never occurred to me that I would be standing here, with the opportunity to marry the woman that I love and to have our relationship and commitment to each other not only recognized by the great state of Montana but to be given all of the rights, privileges and opportunities afforded to each citizen that enters into marriage.
We and the three other couples in the ACLU of Montana's marriage equality lawsuit -- Ben Milano and Chase Weinhandl, Shauna and Nicole Goubeaux, and Adel Johnson and Sue Hawthorne -- watched states across America overturn the bans on same-sex marriage and each time it brought forth such excitement for us. Not only have we been thrilled for the residents of those states, but it gave us hope that one day we too would have marriage equality in Montana. Today that hope came true.
Calling Tonya my partner, my significant other, my girlfriend, my perpetual fiancée just has never done justice to our relationship. Until this day, this moment, we have been unjustly withheld the opportunity to solidify our commitment to each other and have the day where I can introduce Tonya as my wife. Words are simply inadequate to express the feelings I have as I now move forward in planning my wedding.
I have watched a massive shift in our country. This change is a result of people standing up for their rights and looking at the injustices through a lens of equality and fairness. This decision is the recognition of the lack of equal protections for couples and families we have been waiting for. The Court has ruled that we are all equal citizens under the eyes of the law -- that there is no justification to continue to deny same-sex couples marriage. I applaud the federal judge’s decision to overturn decades of discrimination against the LGBT community. This movement and our case are built on the firm commitment of many to end discriminatory practices. I could not be more thrilled that marriage equality is here, not only for us but for every single citizen of Montana.
Today, I get to show my child and my extended family that all families have value, that living an authentic life is a quality we all should hold dear and that equal rights are not special rights.
Love won today.