Till Court Do Us Part 

Six tales of marital bliss and cruel disappointment.

Page 7 of 9

Jennifer: It was your relationship being dissected on TV night after night, and we had family members who were wonderful and family members who weren't so wonderful. Having to deal with all of that was quite emotional and almost superseded the fact that oh yeah, we're married.

My mom raised us Catholic but my dad is a Buddhist, so he does have that traditional Japanese sense that you just don't discuss things. You just go along, follow my rules and regulations, and we don't discuss it if it's something that's uncomfortable. He's getting a little better. My mom's come from kind of being in the same realm as my dad, to talking about our relationship to her friends and calling.

Amy: Now she has all these plans for the future that include me, which is nice. My parents like to piss off their family so they were pretty happy. They enjoyed sending out an e-mail about how they wanted everyone to welcome Jen into the family. They're from Bogotá, so I grew up pretty Latin American Catholic. But my dad's family also wanted to fit in in America, so they wouldn't refer to themselves as Latinos. They're Republicans. I wish Jen had been able to meet them before they all got to have their own little side-conversations about their opinions of the whole thing. Because now it seems like it would be very awkward to go to our family's Christmas just knowing what they've all said behind my back.

Jennifer: They keep praying for us.

Amy: We are going to hell, yes. But all of our friends are going to be there, so that's fine. And it's been kind of interesting listening to the conversations of the family that have unfolded. It kind of doesn't involve us anymore -- now it's really about them. That's cool.

Interracial marriage was controversial in your parents' time. Has this given you something to bond over?

Amy: Now we can see more of the parallels between the two struggles. I didn't realize that it wasn't until 1967 that they finally changed the federal laws on interracial marriages. It was during the 1940s in California but it was '67 federally. Marriage licenses don't cross state boundaries because of interracial marriages. There were states that didn't allow interracial marriages that didn't want to recognize the marriage licenses given in California, so they had to change federal law to make those things go through. So even if we were married here or in Massachusetts or Canada, we're not married once we go into states that won't recognize the marriage license.

With all the conflict that surrounded all of those weddings, I guess we just feel like part of the family now.

What was your reaction to the court ruling?

Jennifer: I knew that it was probably going to happen and that it could open a Pandora's box to have an elected official be able to interpret the constitution. And even though what Newsom did is right and admirable, it just allows someone who is maybe not as admirable to interpret the constitution.

Amy: Most of the people we were in line with understood that this was just the beginning of the struggle -- that the marriages could be nullified or they could stop doing the ceremonies. And that it was going to become not just a statewide battle but a national issue. I'm looking at the twenty years difference between California and the federal government with interracial marriages. I don't think this is actually going to take twenty years; I think this is going to happen much faster. Even our own families, now they know a couple affected by the changes in the law, and by what's on TV. I think that putting that face to it is really important.

Mickey & Sallyanne
Mickey Neill, 53, retired human resources manager
Sallyanne Monti, 43, consulting firm director
Kids: Stephanie, 20; Christine, 19; Alyssa, 15; Frank, 14
Years Together: 6

The four children of this Alameda couple are Sallyanne's from a previous marriage. Their father, who has since remarried, shares custody of the kids; because their marriage is not recognized, Mickey is not a legal stepparent. The two eldest kids are attending college. The younger ones, Alyssa and Frank, took part in the interview.

Sallyanne: We got invited to a reception at City Hall by the mayor with a lot of other people. It was in the midst of Day 2 of marrying same-sex couples. I think at that point we were blown away by the fact that, wow, you can really get married.

Mickey: We thought we were married for all intents and purposes. We thought really that heterosexuals owned the word "marriage" and that's the way the world worked.

Sallyanne: We didn't agree with it, mind you.

Mickey: We had done a lot to protect ourselves and the kids financially with wills and living trusts and all the paperwork that a heterosexual doesn't need to do to protect their children. We thought we had done everything that we could to solidify our family in all the rights that were available to us at the time. So we went to the reception and it was like marriages were breaking out! This was kind of exciting! We looked at each other and said, "Do you want to get married?'"

Sallyanne: We thought it would be our way of participating in history. We thought we were doing it for the community and that we didn't need it, but in the final analysis it was a wake-up call to the fact that we'd been denied our civil rights.

So you went back another day?

Sallyanne: I think we got up at 4. We got to the city at 5:30 a.m.

Mickey: Getting teenagers out of bed at that time is not what they like to do, but they were totally up for it. We brought coffee and things to eat, and we opened up our tent and put it on the sidewalk. Everybody was crazy in love, in front of us, in back of us, they were excited and so happy to be there. Everybody would come by honking, or donating food, bringing coffee ...


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