GINA AND HEIDI NORTONSMITH, BOTH 43 NORTHAMPTON, MA
Gina, a classroom aide for students with disabilities, and Heidi, executive
director of an emergency food pantry, were plaintiffs in the historic lawsuit that led to same-sex marriage becoming legal in Massachusetts. After 14 years together, they were legally married in
May 2004 with their sons Avery, now 11, and Quinn, now 8, by their sides.
"The most important reason we wanted to get married is that we love each other, and we wanted to be responsible for and to each other," says Gina. "No one knows Heidi as I do — what her
fears are, her hopes, her dreams. I know what she wants if she is unable to make decisions for herself. I know what she wants for our children. And she knows those things about me. Marriage makes
us feel secure in our relationship and ensures that those wishes will be respected. It is a public statement of our love and commitment."
To honor and cherish
"I don't think we ever take our marriage for granted, even on a daily basis," says Heidi. "We know how precious and vulnerable it is, how easy it is to just be complacent." Adds Gina: "Some
people think that we were not honoring marriage by pursuing the lawsuit. But the complete opposite is true, because we saw marriage as a way to protect our family and to stand up and have our
community recognize us as a serious relationship. It wasn't because we were dishonoring what marriage can be, in its highest form. It was because we wanted to be part of something that we honored