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Decision not end of fight for Spokane couple

Thu., July 27, 2006

Marge Ballack and Diane Lantz were ready Wednesday morning to get married. Again.

That prospect meant they’d hardly slept Tuesday night and left them anxious Wednesday morning as they waited for a court to say whether or not they could.

“Are you going to get me another ring?” Ballack asked Lantz about 7:59 a.m. Wednesday as she moved fitfully around the kitchen of their west Spokane home, wiping already immaculate countertops.

“I suppose so,” replied Lantz, sipping ice water and keeping one eye on the television tuned to the Northwest news channel. “A ring for Nelson. A ring for Spokane.”

On their wall is a marriage certificate from Nelson, B.C., where they were married in a civil ceremony three years ago last Friday. But that’s not recognized as a legal marriage in Washington state.

Together for nearly 29 years, they’ve raised two children and have six grandchildren. They estimate they’ve spent thousands of dollars for legal protections married couples enjoy, such as powers of attorney and joint rights of survivorship.

By 8:01 a.m., there was no need for a trip to the jewelry store. The state Supreme Court had ruled that same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Ballack and Lantz, who were the first same-sex couple in line to get married if the 5-4 decision had gone the other way, are still barred from being married in Washington.

“Ohhh,” said Ballack as she turned away, and tears formed in both women’s eyes.

Among the reasons in the court’s majority opinion, an announcer on television said, was that the Legislature can limit marriage to a man and woman because it “furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race.”

“Same old crap,” said Ballack. “If only we could procreate … we could be married.”

“We’d be millionaires, too,” Lantz noted, managing a smile.

Wednesday’s decision is likely the end to the court battles they and other same-sex couples have waged for the last several years. Focus will likely shift now to the Legislature, Ballack said.

“We’re disappointed, but we’re not discouraged,” Lantz said. “This fight is far from over. Equality has to be for everyone.”


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