It’s progress, but we’re not there yet.
When my dear friend Bonnie Lloyd gave opening remarks at a private ceremony April 30 before she and her partner, Pattea Carpenter, obtained one of the first civil-union licenses issued by Boulder County, she thanked us.
She thanked the small group of close friends for treating her and Pattea as “normal,” for not treating them as a lesbian couple.
Granted, there have been times over the years when I’ve felt like I had to prepare certain friends before they met Bonnie and Pattea, explaining that they are lesbians and that they have a daughter together, Zoe.
And by together, I literally mean together. Bonnie and Pattea are both biological mothers to 17-year-old Zoe. Bonnie’s egg was implanted into Pattea and then artificially inseminated with sperm from a donor. Genetically, Zoe is Bonnie’s. But Pattea carried her. They are believed to be the first lesbian couple in the country to have used the Uniform Parentage Act to obtain joint parental rights to their child in such a way.
Sometimes I tell friends about Bonnie and Pattea in advance to avoid awkwardness, to avoid questions that unsuspecting heterosexual couples might ask when they assume the women are just friends, like “Where’s your husband?” or “Where is Zoe’s dad?” Why do I do this? I wouldn’t feel the need to warn friends about a mixed-race couple they haven’t met, right? It’s because we’re not there yet, we’re not tolerant enough as a society to not bat an eye when we see two parents of the same gender.
It’s a big step, the implementation of the new state law allowing civil unions, and Bonnie and Pattea joyfully celebrated this governmental recognition of their commitment. Like many other couples exchanging vows, when they gazed into each others’ eyes Tuesday night, you could feel the true love, the devotion.
Did I mention that they are better parents than most heterosexual couples I know?
It was an important step when the county granted them the paperwork acknowledging their civil union Tuesday night, but we’re not there yet.
Seeing these two people hold hands and dance and kiss might still make some of us uncomfortable. I’ve been fortunate enough to see it enough times over our 16-year friendship that it doesn’t faze me. And at times during the ceremony at The Huckleberry in Louisville, before they made their way over to the county office get their union officially sanctioned, I wondered how many heterosexual couples are lucky enough to share the same bond, the same connection, after more than two decades.
This has been an issue that Boulder Weekly has fought long and hard for over the years. On May 20, 2004, our in-your-face cover featured two men kissing as part of a story about homosexual couples fighting for their right to marry.
In fact, at the ceremony Tuesday night, when friends were asked to submit wishes for Bonnie and Pattea, several suggested that recognition of full-fledged gay marriages should be the next step.
Look how far we’ve come. And how far we still have to go.
Bonnie and Pattea, congratulations. And thank you for setting a good example of why bigots who refuse to recognize your wonderful, inspiring relationship are so wrong.
And forgive us for not being there yet.
At least now we are one step closer.