News & Commentary written by Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson

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Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson


Milwaukee. Charvonne, 43, and Marie, 48, have been partners more than seven years and raised two sons together. Charvonne is an accountant and Marie is a raw material handler for a manufacturing company. They both very much want to get married, and they want to do it in the state they call home.

“We’ve thought about going to Massachusetts or Canada, but we decided that if nobody else is going to recognize it, it doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to mean,” Marie says. “I want to call Charvonne my wife and have people understand what that means.”

Charvonne agrees: “I’m old fashioned in that way. I think a couple that commits to each other and lives together should be married. I love her with all my heart and soul, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”

Charvonne and Marie are involved parents. Together they’ve raised Alexander, 21, and Christopher, 11, who are Charvonne’s sons from previous relationships. Charvonne and Marie were active in the PTA at Christopher’s school, holding offices and Charvonne serving twice on search committees to pick new principals. The boys would like to see them get married. At the ceremony, Alexander is going to be Marie’s “man of honor.”

Marie’s employer doesn’t provide domestic partner benefits, so last year, when Charvonne’s mother died, Marie had to use vacation time to attend the funeral. Charvonne’s company does provide some benefits, but she’s pretty sure that if Marie or she ever becomes seriously ill, they wouldn’t be able to take family medical leave.

“I feel that the commitment I’ve made to Charvonne and the boys, and the one they’ve made to me, should be allowed to be legal,” Marie says. “I want to proudly walk with my family. I want to do it the right way and the right way is marriage.”