Happy 5 Year Anniversary, Iowa: Jen and Dawn's Story

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April 3, 2014
Former Lambda Legal plaintiffs Dawn and Jen BarbouRoske with their daughters McKinley and Breenna on decision day

April 3rd marks the five year anniversary of Lambda Legal's historic decision in Varnum v. Brien, the case that won the freedom to marry in Iowa. To celebrate the milestone, our former plaintiffs reflect on what the decision has meant to them and their families.

This is Jen and Dawn's story:

As our family reflects on the progress towards equality that the last 5 years has brought, as well as the many years leading up to the historic Iowa Supreme Court decision, we are struck with how far we have come. We have seen the world that our daughters live in become an increasingly open and welcoming place, where love is the universal truth. We have seen our family become recognized as the real family that we have always known it to be. Now recognized by both the state and federal government, with all the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex couples, we are no longer forced to provide dishonest answers; such as marking "single" on forms, when we have not been single for more than two decades. It is also the other numerous daily, yet priceless things that have changed. We smile when we hear our youngest daughter answer the phone and tell the caller that one of her moms isn’t home, "but her wife is." Because of marriage equality, our children finally have the language to describe their family in a way that is understood by all. While those may seem like small things to have someone say, "oh, this must be your wife," it’s an amazing and re-affirming statement to hear.

Marriage is so much more than a legal contract between two people. It is a commitment to joining your life with the life of another person. Marriage equality has provided us with an identity as a family that is seen and now recognized as equal to the other families that we share our world with. We have been able to enjoy being who we are, rather than struggling to prove who we are. This is a profound difference for our children. For our daughters, it is not about being in the closet or out, it is about simply being a family. Both girls state feeling safer now, knowing our marriage and family has equal importance and value. There is pride in the way they live their lives that cannot be put into words. These are the things that marriage, equality, and love mean to all of us. These are but a few of the wondrous changes that have come about through the diligence and hard work of Lambda Legal and its supporters. Priceless!!!

Learn more about the case here.

Check out our Love Unites US campaign here.