Pam York and Nicole Smith met at a party in 2006 and married in California in 2008. “Being married did not change who we were. It just solidified the love that we had for one another and the commitment that we had for each other. For me, it made me feel like we were more of a family,” said Nicole. They moved into a house in Kentucky near the Ohio border, so as to be close to extended family, and decided it was time to start a family of their own. They combined their last names, “York” and “Smith,” so that their whole family could share the same name when they had children.
“It took us about six months to get pregnant with Grayden. When we found out about Grayden, it was Valentine’s Day and it was the best Valentine’s Day gift ever. We could not wait for him to come into the world, we were so ecstatic. He came into the world busting away and it’s been the most fulfilling thing since for the last four years of our lives,” said Pam.
They wanted to ensure that Grayden had the best medical care possible, so they chose to give birth in a hospital known for being one of the best in the area. However, because the hospital was in Ohio, Pam was not recognized on Grayden’s birth certificate, even though the couple was legally married.
In order to ensure that their family was fully recognized and that Grayden was protected, the two had to jump numerous expensive legal hurdles -- taking money that could have gone to Grayden’s schooling or other future expenses -- to ensure that Pam is recognized with the authority to approve medical care, deal with child care workers and teachers, travel alone with their son, and otherwise address all of the issues parents deal with on a daily basis.
In June 2014, Nicole gave birth to their second son, Orion, and they are seeking to be able to put Pam’s name on his birth certificate in order to make sure their whole family is protected.
When Orion was four months old, he became gravely ill. It was late at night, and Pam took him to the hospital where he was born, and when she got there, they asked her who she was. The attending nurse looked up Orion in their system and said that they only had Nicole listed as the mom – which was because Ohio refused from our son’s birth to recognize his second parent. The nurse said that she would need to call Nicole to verify that Pam was his mother. Because their marriage is not recognized by Ohio and Orion’s second parent isn’t recognized by Ohio, their child’s emergency care had to wait until a hospital could confirm that Pam – Orion’s mom – could do what any other concerned parent would for a sick child.
For Nicole, not having their marriage recognized has a profound effect on her sense of dignity. Nicole works in Ohio, a short drive from the family’s Kentucky home. Neither the state where she lives nor the state where she works and had her children recognizes the Yorksmiths as a family. “It makes me sad that the states where I live and work don’t fully recognize me as a human being. It makes me feel less than. It makes me feel like a second class citizen. It’s hurtful.”
(Text & Image via: LambdaLegal).
You can find out more about each plaintiff behind the marriage equality cases online at the following resources:
Wishing all of the plaintiffs luck, patience, love, and strength!