We’ve been married 52 years and we have been blessed with four children. Our two daughters are both happily married and we have eight grandchildren.
And both of our sons are in long-term, committed relationships – but neither of them can be married.
If you’re watching television this summer, you might see us sharing our story with people around the state. As a newspaper reader, you’re probably interested in more than a 30-second sound bite.
So here’s a little more about why we feel so strongly about the importance of the freedom to marry for all Washingtonians.
When our eldest son told us he was gay, it was tough to get used to. When we were growing up nobody talked about gay and lesbian couples.
It was a different era then. But we had to find some way to understand because he was still our son, the same one we’d loved all his life. We prayed about it and we came to realize that the greatest commandment is love – and to treat others as we want to be treated.
We knew that we had to listen to our son, and to open our ears and our hearts.
Since that time, we’ve been reassured and overjoyed by the loving, committed relationship our son has found with his partner. We visited with them at their home and saw them as old married folks that share their lives and their joys and sorrows.
They are each other’s soul mates. It is just wonderful to watch. By the time our younger son told us he was also gay, we had come to understand that all of us, gay or straight, want to be married for similar reasons – to make a lifetime commitment to the person we love.
Marriage means two people taking responsibility for one another in good times and bad.
We love all our children as they are. Who you marry is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
No one should be told they cannot marry the person they love.
We’re proud that all four of our children have found life partners, and that they are committed to the responsibilities of marriage. As a minister, Gib was able to stand before our daughters at their weddings and perform their ceremonies.
We would like to do the same for both our sons.
That’s why we’re telling our family’s story.
We’re working with volunteers in our church and our community to make sure that everyone who has questions about this issue has a chance to talk to someone with a story like ours.
This summer, as Washingtonians are discussing the why marriage matters to same-sex couples, we encourage you to reach out to gay couples you know, or to friends with gay children, about their family’s story.
How would you feel if your children were excluded from marriage? Washington is a state where we treat others as we want to be treated, and that includes being able to marry the person you love.
That’s what all parents wish for all their children. Reverend Gib and Beth Rossing live in Olympia, Wash.