Thirty-three years after first meeting, Raquel Ardin and Lynda Deforge have reluctantly stepped into the spotlight as advocates for gay rights.
"The first day I saw her I knew I wanted to get to know her," Ardin said.
The Hartland couple is among a group of lesbians and gay men suing the federal government, challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. Also known as DOMA, it was passed by Congress in 1996 and says the federal government will not recognize same-sex marriages.
"Historically and to this very day states control marriage and decide who can marry," said Greg Johnson, a professor at the Vermont Law School. "This is the only time in the entire history of the country that Congress has decided to step in and define who can marry."
After three decades together Ardin and Deforge married last September.
They didn't even know about DOMA until Deforge applied for time off from her job at the U.S. Postal Service so she could take Ardin to medical appointments at the VA hospital in Connecticut. But the government denied her request saying the family medical leave act only applies to married couples.
"You know when you get married you figure you have the same rights as everybody else," Ardin said.
"But we're second class," Deforge said.
"We're second-class citizens," Ardin agreed.
Both Ardin and Deforge are military veterans and work for the U.S. government. In addition to time off, the couple wants to buy health insurance together and they're worried about survivor benefits. Not just for themselves, but for others as well.
"We have to change this world. Make it better for everybody. It may not even affect us by the time these changes happen but it will help younger people behind us," Ardin said.
That's why they've joined the suit - that could eventually land in the Supreme Court.
Johnson says legally this is a strong case. The plaintiffs all have tangible things they can point to as proof this federal law treats them differently than heterosexual couples. But there is also concern about backlash: if opponents of same-sex marriage feel this suit has a good chance of winning in the Supreme Court they may make a strong push for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as a man and a woman. Similar efforts in the past have failed.
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:29 PM EST2014-03-09 02:29:17 GMT
A warning for pet owners in our region. Coyotes are on the prowl. A biologist in New Hampshire says he has received more than 10 calls recently, in the Keene, New Hampshire area, for a deer that was takenMore >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:21 PM EST2014-03-09 02:21:44 GMT
As spring approaches, many Vermont homeowners prepare to work on their houses - so they head to the Burlington Home Show. And many Vermont small business owners - with their products and services on displayMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 8:07 PM EST2014-03-09 01:07:08 GMT
A rally at the State House in Montpelier Saturday. A passionate group of dozens of women, and men, assembled in front of the State House Saturday for the Women's March for Dignity. They were demandingMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
We've had another cold week that's left homeowners cranking the heat. But what does that mean for kids' safety?More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>