Santa Cruz, California

 

“I asked my students if they had ever met a gay person,” Noreen told us as we ate a delicious soup that her partner Susan had cooked. Noreen continued, “My students would usually say ‘no’. ‘Well, how do you know?’ I’d ask them.” Noreen’s students were often surprised to find out that their teacher wasn’t straight. Being surprised that someone is gay isn’t a problem, but having to face judgements from students and their parents is. No one should have to live with the fear of being fundamentally judged for who they are.

Every item in their house offered the strong possibility of a great, long story about art or music or friends. Telling stories is something that they cherish doing. It seemed like every ten minutes either Noreen or Susan was telling us about an art project they worked on or a class they had taught. They knew many artists and were sometimes half-jokingly called the dynamic duo.

Noreen and Susan have stayed committed to each other for more than 30 years and even though they could have married sooner than they did, they decided to wait. Their belief was that if not every gay couple could marry, then why should they. So when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage last year those same values that unite them with other gay couples across the country encouraged them to celebrate by getting married. Noreen and Susan are proof that a marriage document doesn’t provide commitment. The celebration of marriage, though, can give the couple, their friends and family a reason to celebrate the commitment that they nurture.

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