by Pat Gozemba
Tambry Young and Suzanne King, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the people of Massachusetts, represented by those of us gathered here today on November 7, 2009 in Salem, recognize and celebrate your relationship of 28 years. We honor the extraordinary efforts that you have taken to protect your relationship and your 9-year-old daughter Shylar.
You have travelled thousands of miles from your native land, from the state of Hawai’i, to Massachusetts a state where your love is honored, your family is acknowledged, and your civil right to marry is guaranteed. May that civil right be granted one day to all of the people in Hawai’i.
Karen and I met you when we joined the Hawai’i Family Equality Coalition struggle for civil unions. We had the privilege of seeing you emerge as leaders of the movement with Tambry becoming co-chair of the coalition. As a Native Hawaiian family you speak out publicly for the rights of all lesbians and gays living in Hawai’i to have the option to marry. You are profiles in courage for those who live in fear.
The joy and commitment of your lives inspires others, especially young people, straight and LGBT, to join the struggle for civil rights for all.
I wasn’t surprised at all when Tambry decided to come to Maine to join the fight to protect marriage equality in the “No on 1” campaign. What does surprise me, a bit , is that 15 days after she landed in Boston and we traveled to Maine and did endless hours of phone-banking and data tallying we are at this moment today—her marriage to Suzanne.
The struggle for equality in Maine led to this celebration of equality today in Massachusetts. On October 24th the day Tambry landed in Boston, Karen took her on a little walking tour of our Salem Willows neighborhood and introduced her to some of the many LGBT families in our little community. Over cocktails later, Tambry mused “what’s up” all these out gay people and their kids? Everybody is so open. She had met Olga and Julie and their daughters Mattea and Marina and that was just the beginning.
Two days later on Monday Karen mused, “You know Tambry you could get married in Massachusetts.” In a rare a-historical moment, I the lesbian historian said, “Yeah, you could use our address.” Karen looked at me and said, “Honey, anyone can come to Massachusetts and get married.” Oh, yeah, we fought for that right too and we’re so glad we did.
A day later, Tambry and I went to Boston’s Top of the Hub, where Marilyn took Karen and me for our wedding luncheon in 2005. Great spot. Marvelous view of the city. Weddings were on our minds. Tambry wondered if she could get Suzanne and Shylar to Massachusetts. Next thing we knew, Suzanne was on the phone and a proposal was in the works.
An elaborate proposal ritual followed in which Tambry topped every gesture of courtly love that I had ever imagined. On Friday, October 30th in the lobby of the Coldwell Banker office in Honolulu, Tambry’s friend Amy delivered to Suzanne flowers and a box of chocolates with a card inside showing Tambry on bended knee outside the “No on 1” campaign office in Portland, Maine asking Suzanne to be her wife. I encourage all of you to check out the card in the slide show. It’s a winner.
Well, Suzanne accepted the proposal and here we are today at this exciting moment of equality. I wish that every person in Maine who voted against marriage equality could look in their hearts and reconsider what kind of a victory it is to deny beautiful families like that of Suzanne, Tambry, and Shylar the security , commitment, and love of marriage.
We are blessed to be in Massachusetts where our constitution recognizes that Tambry and Suzanne are part of the “’we’ in we the people.” May equality take on a new life all over this country from Maine to Hawai’i. Our resolve and more importantly our love will win the day.
Tambry, Suzanne, and Shylar you are leading the way. May your lives be blessed.