Rachel Timoner, 41, and Felicia Park-Rogers, 41, were married on June 17, 2008. Their wedding took place on the first day that it was possible for same-sex couples in California to marry. It was shortly after the state Supreme Court ruling in May 2008 that the state’s ban on same-sex marriages violated state constitutional rights, and before California voters essentially reinstated the ban with their approval of Proposition 8 in November of the same year.
At the time of their marriage, Rachel and Felicia had been together for 16 years. During the years before they were married, the couple had registered with local and state authorities as domestic partners and had received a short-lived marriage certificate from the City of San Francisco in 2004. Their story reflects the decades-long struggle of same-sex couples to gain equal marriage rights under local, state and federal laws. Rachel and Felicia have two children, Benjamin and Eitan. The boys were 5 and 2, respectively, at the time of the wedding.
RACHEL: Depending on how you count them, this was either the fifth or sixth time we had some kind of a commitment ceremony, and we have a million anniversaries.
FELICIA: But still, this one felt special.
RACHEL: It did, absolutely.
FELICIA: The kids didn’t quite get it—in fact, they didn’t get it at all. They already see us as a married couple and to a certain degree they don’t even understand what marriage is—not yet.
RACHEL: They know that we’re a family. Just like the family next door, and the family down the street, and their friends at school.
FELICIA: It would not occur to them that we’re not already completely bonded for life. They were kind of like, “What are you talking about?”
RACHEL: We could have done the ceremony much earlier in the day, but we waited to pick up the boys after school. We drove across town to get them and brought them all the way back so they would be able to remember this occasion. And they didn’t care at all.
FELICIA: In fact, they were highly disruptive.
RACHEL: Eitan kept saying, “Pick me up, pick me up.” And Ben kept asking, “Can I go play basketball?” There was a basketball court next door. So—that was deeply meaningful.
FELICIA: But it was still very emotional.