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Gay couple: 'Different ways to make a family'

Ellen Wade and Maureen Brodoff
Ellen Wade and Maureen Brodoff

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(CNN) -- Should gay marriages be legal? An answer to this question is expected from Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court. Seven same-sex couples have sued Massachusetts for denying them marriage licenses, arguing the state's constitution prohibits discrimination because of sex.

Ellen Wade and Maureen Brodoff are among the couples seeking the court's recognition, and they spoke Monday with CNN anchor Bill Hemmer.

HEMMER: Tell us what would it mean to you to get recognition in marriage in your state?

WADE: Well, it would mean a great deal. It would mean recognition of our relationship of over 20 years, which is perhaps not the most important thing because I don't think it will change our relationship a great deal. It will mean access to protections and benefits that are presently denied to same sex couples. I work alongside someone for all my working life and just because the coworkers are heterosexual, that person's partner will have all kinds of pension benefits and social security benefits that will be denied to my surviving partner were I to die, for example.

HEMMER: You mentioned that twice, the finances, the insurance. Maureen, is that the bottom line here? Would it help you financially? Is that part of the motivation to bring this case?

BRODOFF: Yes, it is. But, more generally, I think that a civil marriage would allow us, in many ways, financial, social, and otherwise to protect each other and to keep our family strong.

HEMMER: You have been together 20 years. You've raised a child together. Ellen, you say your relationship would not change. But I assume it would in some way. Have you thought about that if, indeed the court goes in your favor?

WADE: I think it could change in a positive way in the sense that all of the recognition and support that is out there for marriages would be there for us, too. So I think it could only help.

HEMMER: Maureen, you certainly have detractors in this country, and in your state for that matter. What do you say to those who say this does not belong in the courts and the two of you do not belong in a union of marriage?

BRODOFF: I guess I would say to them that we think the institution of marriage is strong enough to evolve and change and in our society. Families have evolved and changed, particularly over the last 20 or 30 years. There are lots of different ways to make a family and we exist. We live in our community, we pay taxes. We coach our little league. We go to work every day. We exist as a couple and we're just asking the courts to recognize that reality and just as a matter of fairness, allow us to participate in the institution of marriage.

HEMMER: A few movements out there I want to draw your attention to -- the situation in Canada, moving towards this as well, and the state of Vermont. You look at the sodomy ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court, gay activists say this ruling was in their favor. Do you see a trend in this country right now that would lead to you winning this case possibly today?

WADE: Well, I think that attitudes have changed in this country. I think, as Maureen mentioned, we ourselves, and gay and lesbian couples all over the country are part of the fabric of everyone's, everyday life and I think people are increasingly realizing that, and as they are realizing that, they are realizing that is a positive thing for the most part and with attitudes changing, I think and I like to hope if we win the case here in Massachusetts that the country will be ready for it.

HEMMER: In a word or two, Maureen, if you lose the case, what then?

BRODOFF: I'm not sure. You know, we will be very disappointed. But we do think over time, if not here in Massachusetts now, then eventually, other places and someday here as well, that eventually our country will recognize our families.


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