Granite Staters Who Fought For Marriage Equality Won’t Rest Until #TransBillNH Is Made Law June 26, 2017

Marriage equality became the law of the land in New Hampshire on January 1st, 2010, following a years-long battle in the legislature. Five years later, on June 26th, 2015, the US Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision expanded marriage equality to every state in the nation.

Today, on the second anniversary of that landmark decision, we’re highlighting the stories of two couples who spent years lobbying for Marriage Equality in the Granite State—and who are now throwing everything they’ve got into the movement to pass #TransBillNH.

Because although marriage equality expanded many rights and privileges to same-sex couples, the lack of non-discrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters means they can still be fired (or not hired), evicted, and denied service in public places like restaurants, doctors offices, and government buildings—married or not.

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Kenzo & Jen

Jen and Kenzo Morris have been on the front lines of the movement for LGBT equality in New Hampshire for more than a decade. The pair met and fell in love in 2003, and began working toward marriage equality in 2006.

Kenzo is transgender, but at that point wasn’t yet living as the man he knew himself to be. So the only way he and Jen could secure legal recognition of their relationship was to form a civil union, which they did on January 1st, 2008, the day civil unions were legalized in New Hampshire.

However, Jen says, civil unions didn’t confer the same legal protections as marriage under state or federal law. So they kept pushing.

“We had won a battle, but still separate is not equal. We continued to fight for marriage so that we were not still being treated like second-class citizens. Our country was founded on non-discrimination and equality for all, not just for some.” —Jen Morris

“We had won a battle, but still separate is not equal. We continued to fight for marriage so that we were not still being treated like second-class citizens,” she says. “Our country was founded on non-discrimination and equality for all, not just for some.”

That notion, as well as the fact that Kenzo is transgender, now informs their activism in support of #TransBillNH. Both Jen and Kenzo say now, as then, it’s scary to be the face of this movement—to put themselves out there, especially knowing any harassment or discrimination they face from speaking out could bounce back onto their two twins.

But, Jen says, “as much as it’s scary—being parents—to kind of put ourselves out there, I want to create the world that my kids can be proud of, no matter who they are, with no discrimination.”

“Things change when we tell our stories, when we come out of our closets, and are not hiding,” Kenzo says. “As scary as that is, that is how change happens. And we’ve gotta do that, to get our rights.” —Kenzo Morris

Kenzo agrees, saying change will only come when more transgender people start speaking out, sharing their stories, and spreading knowledge to those who might not have the facts.

“Things change when we tell our stories, when we come out of our closets, and are not hiding,” Kenzo says. “As scary as that is, that is how change happens. And we’ve gotta do that, to get our rights.”

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Corey & George

The Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision came down only a few weeks after Corey Zinn and George Davidson were married.

They say that while their marriage was already fully recognized in New Hampshire, the Obergefell decision gave them extra piece of mind—both because of the knowledge that their legal rights as a married couple would be recognized outside of New Hampshire, and because of the symbolism.

“Our wedding was already valid in New Hampshire, but with the SCOTUS ruling it was recognized across the country,” Corey says. “And that was validation that we aren’t lesser people than our friends and neighbors in the eyes of the government.”

Even the small benefits that marriage brings—like being able to check the “married, filing jointly” box on their tax returns—have revolutionized their lives. The magnitude of something small like this might be hard for people who’ve never struggled with acceptance to understand, George says, but for him and Corey, it is huge.

“That might sound like nothing to make a big deal about, but for those of us who have had to contend with not being given the same rights and responsibilities others take for granted, it was—and still is—a shining moment of validation and acceptance,” —Corey Zinn and George Davidson.

“That might sound like nothing to make a big deal about, but for those of us who have had to contend with not being given the same rights and responsibilities others take for granted, it was—and still is—a shining moment of validation and acceptance,” George says.

Now, he says, the two of them want their transgender friends and neighbors to feel the same thing.

“Now our transgender siblings deserve the same protection—and moment of validation and acceptance—under the law, both here in New Hampshire and across the country.”