Kaufmann Marries Partner of 22 Years
Despite Montana's law against it, Helena's Senator Christine Kaufmann recently traveled to Iowa, where she and her wife were married.
Senator Christine Kaufmann, (D) Montana, has served our community for more than 12 years, and for the duration of her career, she has been open and honest about her lifestyle. Now, after spending more than 20 years together, Kaufmann and her wife are celebrating their relationship, even though their marriage will not be legally recognized in the state of Montana.
Kaufmann: "I'm hopeful that change will come to Montana."
Christine Kaufmann and her wife, Pat Kemp have been together for 22 years but this year, things fell into place and the couple was able to take the trip down the aisle.
"We wanted to claim it with our marriage."
As a political figure, Kaufmann has never tried hiding her lifestyle, and has even been a statewide advocate for change. But Kemp, who owned her own private practice, decided to keep her private life quiet and focus more on her patients. She says the difference in jobs is the main reason the couple decided to wait.
Kemp: "Because it's still an issue for some individuals that was probably the main reason that we waited this long."
Now, with Kemp retired, the couple traveled to Iowa to tie the knot. And even though their union isn't legally recognized in Montana, Kaufmann says it's more about celebrating their love with their friends and families.
Kaufmann: "Us wanting to say to our families and our friends that we are for real. That this relationship is meaningful and matters in ways that all marriages do and so this was a way to say that."
As for the Treasure State, Kaufmann says it's only a matter of time until marriage equality is written into law.
"Within the next 10 years the people of Montana are going to say hmmm....we're a little embarrassed by having put that in our constitution."
She also says Montanan's will eventually elect a state-wide official that is either gay or lesbian. But, with retirement right around corner, she says Helena residents shouldn't expect to see her running again.
"I was elected to the Senate for my final 4 year term and then I am termed out of the legislature and I have no plans for seeking higher office."
Next legislative session, the senator says she will fight for domestic partnerships. Even though it's not marriage equality, she says it will at least give the same rights and benefits to homosexual couples.
Story by Jill Jagelski, Beartooth NBC.
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