LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The historic Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage began with six couples from Kentucky.
In this WDRB special assignment, we're finding out if they've gotten all that they fought for and what life is like for their families.
“My parents have been together for 24 years,” Tevin Campion-Johnson said as we talked at the kitchen table in his parents’ house in east Louisville.
It was a typical Thursday night at the Campion-Johnson household. Tevin and his siblings Tyler, MacKenzie and DeSean were all adopted and Tevin has only known life with two dads.
“People ask me this all the time and I can honestly say I don't know any different. Really my childhood -- even my teenage years -- they've just been normal,” he explained.
Randy Johnson and Paul Campion joined the Kentucky lawsuit against the state's gay marriage ban for one reason, their kids. While the gay marriage ban was in place, the couples couldn't adopt children together.
“For 20 years we've had Tevin and Tyler we've had them since they were born, but, legally, I'm their parent. Randy hasn't had any legal connection to those boys. Though he raised them equally as I did,” said Campion.
But the June 26 Supreme Court ruling gives them both parental rights and they are in the legal process of filing for second parent adoption.
It's the same story for plaintiffs Greg Burke and Michael De Leon
“Absolutely, that was always our motivation. The way our lives have changed the most is we have started proceedings for second parent adoption, something we have longed to do or have been waiting to do for 16 years now,” said Burke.
For Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard and Dominique James the Supreme Court ruling finally made their dream a reality. They were denied two times before, but in June they were finally granted a marriage license at the County Clerk’s Office in Louisville and were soon married.
“I still carry the marriage certificate in my cowboy hat because in case something happens. I don’t want to be kept from Dominique,” said Blanchard.
The six couples from Kentucky joined plaintiffs from Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan in their Supreme Court fight. Out of all the couples involved, Larry Ysunza and Tim Love were the very last to be married. They waited until October because that's been their anniversary for 35 years.
“We could have gotten married on the 26th of June when the ruling came down, but we've had so many things taken from us we didn't want everybody else to decide for us when our anniversary was going to be. We already have an anniversary,” explained Love.
We were there for their wedding rehearsal at their church in Clifton. The flag draped over the seats at the ceremony was the same flag that was carried on the steps at the Supreme Court.
For the oldest plaintiffs in the case, Luke Barlowe and Jimmy Meade, who've been together for 48 years, they say the fight was about paving the road for tomorrow.
“We just wanted to make a difference. When I was in High School I tried to commit suicide three times. That's why we did it; for the kids coming up behind us,” said Barlowe
And for the only Kentucky lesbian couple involved, Kim Franklin and Tammy Boyd...
“For us, it’s just now a comfort in knowing the reason we started this journey has now come to be for our children's sake, for medical reasons and for all those who come along behind us,” said Franklin.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, the couples say they were prepared for backlash...but they didn't expect a pushback so contentious and so close to home.
Kentucky was back in the news in September when Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, denied marriage licenses to same sex couples. She spent six days in jail as local and national politicians flocked to Rowan County to call for her release.
“When this made national news and people were celebrating a theology of exclusion it was a huge set back,” said Blanchard.
That’s another issue these six couples continue to be deeply troubled by, the fact that most churches still consider their lives a sin.
“Anybody who was questioning whether they should have a relationship with God -- this sends a horrible message,” said De Leon.
Though gay couples across the commonwealth will benefit from the Supreme Court decision, only six were part of the team that fought the legal battle. We asked the plaintiffs what they tell their children and what they tell themselves about why they challenged Kentucky’s ban.
“To allow our kids to see that discrimination has been happening and we can do something about it,” said Johnson.
“Throughout this entire thing all of the plaintiffs were not in this to say we were right and we destroyed the opposition. We were in this to say we are [all] right,” said Blanchard.
The couples say people from around the world have reached out to them since the June ruling. For them, those messages of thanks and support far outweigh any negative comments.
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