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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

'A Pale Victory': S.F. Woman's '08 Marriage Still Legal -- But She Finds it Hard to Rejoice

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Courtesy of Leanne Waldal
Watson (on the right) and her wife, Leanne Waldal, are one of the 18,000 same-sex couples who remain legally married after today's court decision.

San Francisco resident Moya Watson wasn't surprised when she heard the news about Prop. 8 while standing on the steps of the California Supreme Court this morning. But the court's decision that her 2008 marriage to Leanne Waldal remains legally valid still seems like "a pale victory."

Watson and Waldal's marriage is one of the 18,000 performed in the state from June 17 to November 4, 2008 that were ruled legal in this morning's court decision. "People understand what marriage means," says Watson, who works at a Silicon Valley software company and keeps a blog at "I can talk about it in the same breath that my colleagues at work say they're going off and getting married."

She feels the value of her marriage certificate was eroded by today's decision. It's gone from being normal to the exception: "It completely takes away from it.  Last year I was talking about getting married, getting flowers ... people understand that. Now it's illegal and I can't talk about that anymore."

Watson's October marriage was actually the couple's third. They originally
tied the knot on Valentine's Day in 2004 in San Francisco before the
state Supreme Court invalidated their marriage months later while
Watson was pregnant with the couple's daughter. They got married again
in Vancouver, Canada. Last year, Watson and Waldal knew they had to move
rapidly to get married before the window of opportunity would potentially
slam shut after the Nov. 3 election. She rushed to make all the
arrangements and book the tulip garden at Golden Gate Park for the fall
ceremony, presided over by a Southern Baptist minister, on just six
months notice.

She says that allowing Prop. 8 to stand takes away from the very definition of marriage. "I do think that when people that base their decision on fear of the other, fear of people like me ... marriage itself will start to mean less."

Watson doesn't buy into any notion that she shouldn't discuss her marriage around non-married gay friends because it's something they can't have. "They're not unhappy for us because we're married. I personally feel bad...but we've worked hard for it."

Unmarried gay couples "Want to be able to have the dream that one day they'll have a relationship with the highest label in the land, and I want to be a model of that. I think my family is a good model of that."

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Lauren Smiley


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