Meet The Parents — On The Frontline of Marriage Equality Fight

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

BY Trudy Ring

June 16 2014 6:00 AM ET


Glenn Funkhouser and Henry Greene, Indiana
Glenn Funkhouser (left) and Henry Greene with their 12-year-old son, C.A.G. The family lives in Carmel, Ind.; Funkhouser and Greene have been together for 22 years. They are plaintiffs in the suit challenging Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage, and they say they want the legal protections marriage will give their son. They say it will also help him to grow up with dignity and pride in his family.

 

Jane Fenton and Nancy Michael, West Virginia
Jane Fenton (left) and Nancy Michael of St. Albans, W.Va., with son Drew. The women own an information technology consulting business together. They also volunteer regularly at Drew's elementary school, the same one Michael attended. Only she is listed as his mother on his birth certificate, and they have had to make other legal arrangements to document Fenton's place in his life, but she still is not legally recognized as his mother. "Jane and I and Drew have traditional family values," Michael said at the press conference announcing the West Virginia marriage suit. Added Fenton: "I'm not a rabble-rouser. I just want to be a wife and mother."

Jennifer Hoefle Olson and Kelli Olson, Arizona
Jennifer Hoefle Olson (left) and Kelli Olson of Tucson with their twin daughters, who were born in 2012. Hoefle Olson is program director for LGBTQ Affairs at the University of Arizona, and Olson is a lawyer. They met in 2004 and had a commitment ceremony on New Year's Eve of 2009, followed by a marriage in Minnesota in 2013, which is not recognized in Arizona. Hoefle Olson is the birth mother of the twins, and Olson has to carry power of attorney documents with her in case she has to make any medical decisions for them. There's always the chance, though, that a health care provider will refuse to accept these documents, so the women are seeking the security that legal recognition of their marriage would bring, and they are plaintiffs in the Arizona suit. “Marriage has taken on a whole new meaning for us, just wanting to protect our family, like everyone does,” Olson told Arizona Public Media last year.

Vicente Talanquer and Kent Burbank, Arizona
Vicente Talanquer (far left) and Kent Burbank (second from right) of Tucson with their sons, Daniel and Martin. Talanquer is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Arizona, and Burbank is director of victim services at the Pima County Attorney's office. They adopted their sons, who had been in foster care, in 2009. Arizona law allows only one of them legal status as an adoptive parent; with the flip of a coin, they decided that would be Talanquer. The men married in Iowa in 2013, hoping that would allow both of them legal status as parents, but Arizona does not recognize the validity of that marriage. "I have zero relationship to [the boys] legally," Burbank told The Des Moines Register. When he travels with the children and without his husband, he carries letters from Talanquer explaining his relationship with the boys. And if Talanquer were to lose his job, Burbank would not be allowed to put Daniel and Martin on his health insurance plan. Those are among the reasons they joined the Arizona lawsuit. "I will not give up until my kids are protected," Burbank told the Register.

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