Six years after marrying in Canada, Colleen and Lee Ann aim for a marriage win in WA
October 04, 2012
Back in May, Colleen Ozolitis and her wife Lee Ann Martinson splashed into the summer with the "Luau for Love," an event they hosted to raise funds, awareness, and support for Referendum 74, the ballot measure that would secure the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Washington. They've always loved working together to throw parties - especially parties with a theme. They rented out a giant indoor sand volleyball court, hired a caterer to whip up tropical-themed food and drinks, and gathered their friends, family members, and co-workers for a fun night that shined the spotlight on why marriage matters to them.
Colleen and Lee Ann spoke to their guests about their eight-year relationship, their five-year-old son Callum, and their six years of marriage together. They talked about how much they love each other and how they know each other inside and out - after all, shortly after they started dating eight years ago, Colleen moved to Kraków, Poland for a year to teach English, so she and Lee Ann were forced to get to know each other from across the world through Skype calls and emails. Lee Ann made the trek to visit Colleen three times that year, and when Colleen returned, there was no question about their future: They'd be together forever. In October 2006, the couple took a weekend trip to Vancouver Island in Canada and exchanged wedding vows to formally mark their love and commitment to each other. One year later, they had Callum, who Colleen calls "the sweetest, most loving little guy in the world."
At the Luau for Love, Colleen explained all of this to their guests. "This means everything to our family, to have this recognition of our commitment to each other," she reflected. "To be able to get married here in our own state - where we live, where we work, where all of our friends are, and where our community is - that would mean so much to us."
Through the "Luau for Love," Colleen and Lee Ann raised $10,000 for Washington United for Marriage, the coalition working to uphold the freedom to marry law that was approved in Washington in February.
After the event, Colleen became even more excited about contributing to the campaign to uphold marriage in Washington. That's why she jumped at the chance to work for Washington United when she heard that a volunteer coordinator position had opened with the campaign. She applied for the job, was chosen for the opportunity, and asked for a leave of absence from her long-term job with a health-related non-profit. Since the middle of June, Colleen has been working full-time on winning marriage for her family and other families like hers.
"For me, this is all about our son," Colleen said about her decision to devote herself to the campaign. "I want him to be able to tell his friends and the people in our community that his moms are married. I just want him to know that while we might be the only family in his class with two mommies, we are equal to any other family at school."
Colleen and Lee Ann will celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary on October 16. And now, they're getting excited at the future prospect of celebrating anniversaries of their wedding day in Washington. They envision their wedding day here as simple: Just a trip to the court house with some family members and with their son. "We want to feel that validation," Colleen said. "We want to feel that experience - that it's legal, and that we're able to do that in a place that represents so much to us."
Colleen and Lee Ann will continue working hard to show people why marriage in Washington is so important to them. In four weeks, when the results come in on November 6, they hope that all of the work from the campaign pays off.
"I'm doing literally everything I can to help this referendum get approved," Colleen said. "It's not easy on our family, because I'm working way more hours than I did at my other job, but Lee Ann and I are both so committed to this. We want to feel like when we wake up on November 7, we did everything we could possibly do to get this approved."
Editors' Note: On November 6, 2012, voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington will be voting on marriage-related ballot measures. Mainers are being asked to vote YES on Question 1 to proactively pass the freedom to marry at the ballot. Residents in Washington and Maryland are being asked to vote to APPROVE Referendum 74 and to vote FOR Question 6, respectively, to uphold marriage laws passed by their state legislatures in February and March 2012. Minnesotans are being asked to vote NO on a proposed amendment that would constitutionally exclude same-sex couples from marriage. In this last month before the election, Freedom to Marry will be profiling couples and volunteers for the state campaigns. Read more about the ballot initiatives HERE, and check back on the blog over the next five weeks for couples' stories.