The day President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, Kristin, an Oregon designer raised by her mother and her partner, made her first donation to his 2012 campaign.
"To have a sitting president finally come out and unapologetically be in favor of everyone's basic human right to marry the person they love was a huge moment," she explains. "I hadn't made a donation this campaign cycle because I need to see politicians showing support for my beliefs and taking a stand. And once he did that, I was moved not just to contribute, but to let people know why I did—it was because I applaud that move. It's really profound and important, because it's our family, our financial safety, and our medical safety.
"My mother has been in a relationship with her partner now for 31 years, so I've known Vicki since I was 7 years old. I knew her back when they were just friends, so she's been part of my life for a very long time. She's helped raise me, I grew up with her. So marriage equality is hugely important to me on an emotional level—any long-term relationship should be honored.
"But it goes beyond the emotional level—it's also about the day-to-day, concrete things you do with a partner. As I've gotten older, I started thinking about those issues a lot—especially when it comes to things like buying a house with my husband. It's not just about recognizing the validity of those relationships—there are serious political and financial implications within the right to marry. I think some people don't realize all the benefits—financial, medical, owning property—that getting married confers. The fact that we deny that to people who have been together 20, 30, 40 years—it's unconscionable."
Kristin says the President's announcement hit home immediately—and she couldn't wait to spread the word.
"I cried. I thought it was a great thing—it was just so significant to see a president say, in an election year, 'Okay, I'm going to say what I believe.' It was a huge moment for me. I hoped it could help turn the tide, and from what I've seen it has. I voted for him before, and I had every intention of voting for him again—but now I can do it with real enthusiasm because this is someone who is standing up for my family.
"Of course I called my family right away. My mom is very pragmatic—she's not a single issue voter, and to her, this is one of a multitude of issues. She was pleased, but I think I was more excited than she was," Kristin laughs.
"It was powerful—but it's still just a first step," she adds. "The reality is, until we can guarantee that basic fundamental human right, it's still just a wonderful statement. There are still discriminatory marriage laws in states all over the country. Some couples are still in the position of not being able to get survivor benefits. And we need to protect things like making sure same-sex partners can be the person in the emergency room making decisions if something happens—so there's a lot at stake this election."
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