Then: In 1996, CityBeat wrote about Teresa Melgard and Kelly Robinson, two women in a committed relationship who were raising a daughter in Mason and fighting for equal protection under the law. At that time, the eyes of the country were on Hawaii, a legal battleground for same-sex marriage. Evan Wolfson, a lawyer and director of the Marriage Project in New York, believed conservative politicians were using the issue in Hawaii to bring their agenda to the forefront. "With a court challenge in Hawaii likely to end this discrimination sometime within the next two years," Wolfson said, "right-wing political extremists are mounting a state-by-state preemptive backlash aimed at thwarting legal recognition of the lawful civil marriages that same-sex couples hope to celebrate some day." (Issue of April 11, 1996)
Now: The issue has changed geographically but not fundamentally. Kelly and Teresa are still together, and they've added new faces to their family. Daughter Eryn (pictured on CityBeat's cover as a baby) is now 8, and she has 4-year-old twin sisters, Audrey and Brielle, birthed by Kelly. Less than a year ago, the women became foster parents to an infant girl. They're celebrating their 15th anniversary together.
What does Teresa think of the ongoing debate about same-sex marriage?
"I'm really thinking it's Wag the Dog," she sighs. "Bush is playing to the conservative right. I just want the same rights and privileges as anyone else to be able to protect my kids."
Teresa excuses herself to tend to details of stay-at-home-mom-hood — soccer shoes and a play date. Returning, she continues, "It's a bunch of hoo-hah, but you have to fight the fight. You still have to make your presence known."
Right now, her presence is at home. Kelly is an engineer with Procter & Gamble so Teresa can stay home to raise their family. It wasn't always that way: Teresa left a career in investment banking to stay home with the kids. P&G's domestic partner benefits to couples made that possible. Teresa plans take up nursing again once the twins start school. In the meantime, she deals with the play dates, soccer shoes and the inevitable questions about her relationship with Kelly.
"Eryn is in second grade," Teresa explains, "so we do a lot of role playing. 'Do you have a dad?' I ask her, and we work on her response: 'No, I don't have an elephant either.' We talk about different families."
She occasionally uses books to help with the questions but finds that it's sometimes easier to "educate subtly. Every kid has something, whether it's a divorce, a death or a loss, two mommies, two daddies."
She helps Eryn to help others see the similarities between their families, rather than the differences — a lesson that more and more people acknowledge today.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? updates cover stories from throughout CityBeat's 10-year history.