Meet Tambry and Suzanne, Sean and Kale, Kathleen and Linda, Louise and Robie, Danny and Allen, and Jill and Pauline.
TAMBRY YOUNG AND SUZANNE KING (HONOLULU) Tambry Young (left), 46, and Suzanne Kalikolehua King (right), 50, have been together for nearly 30 years. Together they’re raising a daughter, Shylar, and as a committed couple have weathered family deaths and other challenges. When they began planning to have a child in the 1990s, their medical provider’s policy barred them from receiving assistance because they were not married. As reciprocal beneficiaries the couple has faced unfair barriers to establishing Suzanne’s legal relationship to their child and to having Suzanne take the family’s last name.
SEAN SMITH AND KALE TAYLOR (HONOLULU) Sean Smith (left), 32, and Kale Taylor (right), 29, met in 2005 when Sean was stationed in Hawai`i with the Army. Following a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Sean was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Kale and his family are from Hawai`i, and Sean and Kale plan to adopt and raise children together, surrounded by Kale’s `ohana. The couple worries that securing their relationships to their children will be made more difficult by the inferior rights afforded to them as reciprocal beneficiaries. This inferior status also did not allow Sean to pay in-state tuition for a period of time when he returned to Hawai`i from Afghanistan.
KATHLEEN SANDS AND LINDA KRIEGER (HONOLULU) Kathleen Sands (left), 55, and Linda Hamilton Krieger (right), 56, have been in a loving, committed relationship since 2004. They were married in Massachusetts in 2007 and registered as reciprocal beneficiaries when they returned home that same year. Linda and Kathleen both teach at the University of Hawai`i at MÄnoa. As a deeply spiritual couple, they are pained that the state favors religious views that discriminate against same-sex couples while ignoring religious views that, like their own, favor equality and inclusion.
LOUISE ESSELSTYN AND ROBIE LOVINGER (KAPOLEI) Louise Esselstyn (left), 65, and Robie Lovinger (right), 56, have lived in Hawai`i since the 1980s. They have been together 17 years and were first in line to register as reciprocal beneficiaries in 1997. Louise suffers from multiple sclerosis, is unable to work and relies on domestic partner benefits from Robie’s employer. The couple worries that state law leaves them vulnerable to losing their home if Louise needs nursing home care in the future and the state demands repayment of her Medicaid costs in ways not required of spouses. The couple also has great anxiety about respect for their legal rights as Louise grapples with her illness and in the event either has other health problems or dies.
DANNY ROBINSON AND ALLEN CASTRO (HILO) Danny Robinson (left), 56, and Allen Castro (right), 60, and have been together since 1976. Allen has longstanding ties to the Big Island; his Portuguese grandparents were born and raised on a PÄhala sugar plantation. Allen and Danny long to solemnize their relationship through a state-sanctioned ceremony in their home state of Hawai`i and they believe a comprehensive, formal status like civil unions would lead others to a greater understanding that they are a devoted and legitimate family.
JILL AND PAULINE GUILLERMO-TOGAWA Jill (left), 57, and Pauline (right), 58, Guillermo-Togawa have been a committed couple for nine years, registered as reciprocal beneficiaries in 2005, and married legally in California in 2008. Together they’re raising their adopted daughter, four-year-old Carmel (center). They believe Jill's extended family and their network of friends in Honolulu, as well as the local culture in which Jill grew up, will provide loving support and teach the values they wish for Carmel. But they worry that the third-class status Hawai`i affords them makes their family vulnerable, will limit their ability to adopt a second child, and will create insecurity for Carmel as she begins her school years.