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The Amendment Passes: One Family Reacts

The amendment to ban gay marriage and civil union is now part of the North Carolina constitution. Voters passed the amendment by 20 percentage points. It was a decisive victory for those who believe marriage should legally be between only one man and one woman. The Amendment’s direct legal effects are unknown, but could be wide-ranging and take years to realize. But its impact on same-sex families in the state will be more direct and immediate. Dave DeWitt spent the evening with such a family and has their story.

Eli is three years old, and as such, his energy level is set on 11. Especially when he gets home from daycare and makes a beeline for his fire truck and his drum set. But then, he decides on a song about a bulldozer, instead.

That’s his mom Margaret Louey, cheering. Eli’s a singer, and he’s got everything a budding musician could want, including a toy guitar, which he straps on his shoulder when he wants to take it down a notch.

Margaret and Anne Beaven are Eli’s parents. Margaret works in research and development at GSK; Ann is an oncologist who works at Duke. Five years ago this week they were married at the Unitarian Church in Chapel Hill.

"There was the rehearsal dinner, there were the wedding dresses, there was the big band and the dinner, there was brunch the next day." Beaven says. "This was a whole weekend. Families, friends of families. To all those people who came, it doesn’t matter if it was legal or not, the fact that we were showing that commitment."

That commitment carried over to starting a family, and two years later, Ann got pregnant and gave birth to Eli. Now, like any modern family, they share the parenting duties.

That means one of them offers Eli a popsicle after dinner, and the other one worries what that will do to bedtime. And when they final wrangle him up the stairs and get his teeth brushed, they help him wind down with a couple stories. For the last one, all three of them climb into Eli’s bed for Curious George.

Beaven: And this was how the man with the yellow hat found George, and they could not wake him up because they had to put him under the shower.

Eli: Why? Louey: Because he was so sleepy.

Maybe it was the popsicle, but Eli isn’t too sleepy tonight, so his moms stay in bed a little after the story and talk about their day…

Beaven: Do you love momma? Yes. Does momma love you ,too. Yes

After they dance out the door and leave Eli to sleep, Margaret and Anne quickly plop down on the stairs and pull out an IPad to check the results as they come in.

They quickly see the bad news, but Margaret still holds out hope.

Louey: See it’s better. 54 to 40. See it’s getting closer.

Margaret and Anne say they’re very lucky. Insurance isn’t an issue, like it will be for some same-sex parents. And their families are very supportive, so custody disputes are unlikely, if god forbid, something happens to one of them. And they live in a neighborhood in Chapel Hill that is filled with loving families, some traditional, some not. But Chapel Hill is different from much of the state.

Louey: You know, it’s living in a state where your values aren’t accepted. We can get married in Massachusetts, we can go to Canada, we can do all of that. But we had our ceremony. That was our marriage.

Margaret and Anne can stay upbeat, because in the morning, there’s still a family to manage, no matter what the state constitution says. Margaret will take Eli to daycare, like she always does. And Ann will pick him up. Like she always does. And at the end of the day, Eli will come charging through the door, full of energy, with a smile on his face for both moms. And maybe he’ll go for the fire truck. Or maybe he’ll sing a song. Or maybe he’ll do both.

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Feature News Editor. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
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