Meet The Parents — On The Frontline of Marriage Equality Fight

Parents involved in marriage equality suits show what's at stake for their children.



Andrea Altmayer and Shelia Robertson, Idaho
Andrea Altmayer (left) and Shelia Robertson of Boise, Idaho, with their son. Robertson is a teacher of deaf children and a sign language interpreter; Altmayer is a massage therapist. When the challenge to Idaho’s marriage ban was heard in federal court last month, Robertson wept during the proceedings. “We have a 4-year-old son together,” she explained afterward to Spokane, Wash.’s Spokesman-Review. “We’ve been together for 16 years, and it took us a long time, it was a very careful decision for us to have our boy. We love our boy. … The fact that I don’t have any rights to him at all – it’s frightening every day.” Judge Candy Dale struck down the ban, but her ruling is being appealed, so Idaho same-sex couples still have to wait to marry.


Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo, Tennessee
Matthew Mansell (left) and Johno Espeso of Franklin, Tenn., with their daughter and son. They were one of the first Tennessee same-sex couples ot have their marriage recognized by the state, thanks to a federal judge’s March ruling that Tennessee must recognize the out-of-state marriages of the three same-sex couples who brought a suit for recognition — but the fate of other same-sex marriages in Tennessee has not been decided. "I know some people have difficulty with us using the word 'marriage,' but that's what it is," Mansell, who married Espejo in California in 2008, told The Tennessean recently. "We do exactly the same things as everyone else does. We teach our kids to ride bikes, we mow the lawn, we do laundry, we argue about money. It's no different from what my parents did or what my sister has done for 32 years."

Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price, Florida
Juan Carlos Rodriguez (left) and David Price of Davie, Fla., with their twins, Sofia and Christian. Rodriguez is a physician specializing in pulmonary medicine, and Price manages his partner's medical practice. The men have been together 18 years. “David and I are devoted to our children,” Rodriguez said in a press release announcing the Florida suit. “We are a family in every way, except that Florida will not allow us to marry. Being a doctor, I see people and families in crisis all the time. In those situations, family and the legal protections that come with it are critical. It pains David and me to be denied a basic safety net of legal protections.”


Traci Ehlers and Sue Latta, Idaho
Idaho plaintiffs Traci Ehlers (far left), a small-business owner, and Sue Latta (second from left), an artist and teacher, have two adult children and two grandchildren. The women, who live in Boise, were married in California in 2008. "Especially as Traci and I get older, it frightens me that we do not have the same legal protections and respect that other married couples take for granted in the event that one of us becomes ill or dies," Latta said when the suit was announced. "We are legally married, and we would simply like the state of Idaho to respect our marriage just as it does those of opposite-sex couples."