|Civil Marriage in Oregon, March 7, 2004
Local lesbians plan to exchange vows in
Couple nervous, excited at opportunity to
Mary Lane Gallagher, The
Bellingham Herald/March 4, 2004
At age 38, Roby Sapp is a little
nervous and "incredibly excited" to do something today she never thought she'd
be able to do: get married.
"Little girls always think about
when they're going to grow up and get married," Sapp said. "But I knew I was a
lesbian from a fairly young age."
For two decades Sapp, the clinical
research manager at Bellingham Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Clinic, had given
up on having a legal wedding of her own. But her prospects changed last summer,
when British Columbia legalized same gender marriage. Sapp and her partner,
Dotti Berry, are still planning a reception at the Inn at Semiahmoo, but won’t
need to go to Canada now to get legally married.
Then this week, they learned that
Multnomah County, Ore., was granting marriage licenses to gay couples. That
meant they were less than a day's drive away from a U.S. marriage license.
"We had already planned to be in
Portland this weekend," she said. "To me, it seemed to be a little more than
just a coincidence."
So Sapp and Berry decided to drive
to Seattle on Thursday night and be in Portland by 9 a.m. today to join hundreds
of other couples eager to tie the knot. Getting married in our own country
was just something we couldn't pass up," said Berry, 50, a motivational speaker
and former basketball coach whose voice cracks when she talks about legally
"I'm just unbelievably happy and
grateful," she said. "You just can't describe it."
Married couples have more than
1,000 rights and protections that unmarried couples don't, Berry said. If Sapp
were in the hospital, for instance, Berry might not be permitted to sit at her
side, she said.
But the couple knows that many of
the rights that come with a marriage certificate may dissipate as soon as they
return home. Washington state law forbids marriage for same-sex couples.
"I don't know what's going to
happen, but I think we'll be allowed some (rights) and we'll be denied some,
basically because of laws in Washington," Sapp said. "But we're going to come
back and we're going to claim every right that's due us."
Reach Mary Lane Gallagher at email@example.com
or call 715-2285.
March 8, 2004
Roby Sapp and Dotti Berry, a
Bellingham lesbian couple, were married Sunday in McMinnville, Ore., after they
obtained a marriage license in Portland last week.
Berry said she and Sapp got the
license Friday in Portland too late to tie the knot in a civil ceremony. So they
tracked down an old friend - the Rev. Bernie Turner of McMinnville, a Baptist
minister - and Turner performed the ceremony at his home, Berry said.
"We had a wonderful ceremony,"
Berry said in a telephone interview. "It was just a splendid day."
The couple planned to return to
Bellingham on Monday. - JOHN STARK
In front of the home of Rev. Bernie and Rosalind Turner,
just after our marriage ceremony where we signed our marriage