On January 4th, two LGBT couples will apply for marriage licenses in Mobile, Alabama as part of the WE DO Campaign. Knowing they will be denied, they take this action as an expression of love and as a call for full equality under the law.
One of the couples has shared their personal story that you can read below. You can send all the couples that will apply for marriage licenses a message of support here.
Kim & Cari Searcy
Kim and I were both born and raised in small towns in East Texas. We met in college and dated for a year before moving in together. It wasn’t long before we realized that we had found something special in each other and so began our journey of creating a loving home together.
In December of 2000, we moved to Mobile, Alabama. Creating a family was always part of our plan. We bought a house. We raised a dog. We made sure we both had stable careers and in December of 2005, five years to the day that we moved to Alabama, our son, Khaya was born.
Just hours after his birth, doctors discovered a large hole in his heart. Because it was such a severe case, he was not able to put on weight and at three months old, had to undergo open-heart surgery. It was during this process that I was told that because I did not have the “proper paperwork” stating that I was a legal parent, that I could not administer his care.
In February of 2006, I filed a petition for adoption in Mobile County Probate Court. Without even a home visit and based simply on the fact that under Alabama state law only a single person or a married couple can adopt, Judge Don Davis denied my petition to adopt Khaya as a second parent. A few months later, Alabama voters approved the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, making it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions, thus leaving me no option to adopt our own son.
In the summer of 2008, the state of California began performing same-sex marriages, and on September 23rd, Kim & I were legally married in San Diego. It was a beautiful experience, but with the passing of Proposition Eight, just six weeks after our ceremony, our marital status was again left unclear. Finally, after waiting for a decision on the constitutionality of Prop 8, we learned that our marriage was still legally recognized by the state of California.
We reopened our case last year in Mobile Probate court. This time with a valid Marriage Certificate from the state of California, thinking that the state of Alabama would recognize our relationship. In April of 2012, Judge Don Davis once again denied my petition to adopt our son. This time his decision sited the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) stating that “No State, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record or judicial proceeding of any other State…respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of another State…or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”
Kim and I have now been together almost 15 years, our son is a wonderful, healthy 7 year-old and together we have created a beautiful, loving and stable home. Our family is always our number one priority and there is nothing we love more than being parents to our amazing son.
But, without legal recognition as a parent, I cannot make education or medical decisions for him. My family cannot be covered by my health insurance or social security benefits and we get none of the tax breaks that most families receive. We can be denied hospital visitation or family medical leave in the event that one of us needs hospital care. And if something were to happen to Kim, the state can take our son away from me. We are denied basic family recognition and protections on a daily basis that most families take for granted and as responsible parents, that is something we refuse to accept.
We love the South and although we have faced many obstacles throughout our journey to obtain simple legal protections, we have also seen that by sharing our story, hearts and minds begin to change and important conversations begin.