Mary Dispenza and Mary Ann Woodruff were among the very first couples in Washington state to become legal same-sex domestic partners. On the first day possible, July 23, 2007, they were in the Secretary of State’s office taking care of the paperwork.
Now, of course, with the passage of Referendum 74, the legal landscape has changed. They have a wedding to plan. Both say the phrase “domestic partner” just doesn’t describe their commitment to each other.
Mary Ann, who was married for 35 years and has two children and four grandchildren, says the change is very real and very emotional.
“We'll be able to stand up and say it in public, say this is the quality we have together! It’s no different from the quality you and your wife have had at the best of times and maybe at the worst of times when you decide to hang in anyway, you know?” she said.
This time things are different for another reason. They won’t be rushing down to the King County office to get their wedding license this Wednesday at midnight; won’t be getting married next Sunday as many gay and lesbian are planning.
They are juggling the schedules of two families, trying to figure out how to write and how to present their vows, looking for the right church and right party venue, drawing up a guest list. Just what “normal people” (their phrase) would be doing in this situation.
They say they don’t want to rush and while they applaud and fully support those who are taking the plunge quickly this week, Mary and Mary Ann want to slow down, make a million lists, get their questions answered, pick the right music set the proper tone and get this thing right.
“The bottom line,” says Mary, who spent 15 years as a Catholic nun “is it has to happen with ease. The people we love and really want there have to have time to get themselves set.”