Commitment | NC

Family, Unfettered

Karen Wade and Kelli Evans of Durham, NC have been together for 17 years and always wanted a family. They waited until they were financially secure, with steady jobs and a comfortable home before they tried to have children. After trying to get pregnant for almost a decade via intrauterine insemination and other methods, they were blessed with triplets in 2008. Emma, Evan and Grady are their life, their joy and a rambunctious handful.

On May 8, 2012 an amendment to the North Carolina constitution will be voted on that will define marriage between one man and one woman as the only recognized legal union in the state. Kelli and Karen fear that the ramifications of Amendment One could harm their family, since only Karen has legal custody of the triplets as their birthmother.

"Right after the triplets were born, I received a letter from Durham County about how I was single mother, and I was very upset. I am not a single mother," says Karen in anger.

"I shared in her pregnancy, it was like I was pregnant too," says Kelli.

If something happens to Karen, what happens to the children? [Justin Cook]


In a small school a little north and a little west of downtown Durham, N.C., a group of eleven-, twelve- and thirteen-year-olds has been busy organizing a field-trip.

Watch as a middle school's gay-straight alliance, GLOW, for Gay Lesbian or Whatever, embarks on an adventure in civic engagement with real consequences for many of the club's members.

"They don't really see kids as having an idea of how they want their future to be like," said Sarah, a GLOW member, "But when we actually voice our opinion it really does make a difference." [Mimi Schiffman]

Just A Word

"You know, everybody says it's just a word, but there's more to it. There's a feeling of belonging," said Jeff Enochs of Charlotte, N.C. "I wanted my state to recognize that we are going to spend the rest of our lives together."

Watch Jeff and his partner Brian Helms travel to Washington, D.C., the closest place they can legally marry.

The wedding is set to take place just weeks in advance of North Carolina's primary, in which voters will decide whether to amend the constitution to read: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state." [Mimi Schiffman]


Twelve-year-old Isak Atkins-Pearcy loves Legos, doughnuts, and fighting for what he believes in.

"I think in a world where everything is right you, could love anyone you wanted to."

He's been fighting alongside his parents and with his junior high GSA to defeat North Carolina's proposed constitutional amendment which will be decided in the May 8th primary.

Amendment One would place in the constitution the following language: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."

Meet Isak, and hear a fresh perspective on relationships from a young man, full of conviction and love for his family. [Mimi Schiffman]

Going Forward

Meet North Carolina family: Kim, Kathy, Ben, Jamie and Justin, and listen as they put into words what's at stake behind North Carolina's proposed Amendment One.

"I mean you can term it whatever you want," said Kathy Sullivan. "But you really cannot look at these relationships and determine they are anything but family."

The proposed constitutional amendment which reads: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state," could potentially invalidate adoptions by same-gender parents across the state. [Mimi Schiffman]

As It Comes

A set of grandparents, a small collection of dogs, two loving parents, and one amazing little girl... Kileen and Von's home is made up of many moving parts.

I spent almost four months getting to know them, though it took more than a glimpse to come to know and appreciate the subtle nuances that makes them family.

Kileen and Von met as students in the same paralegal class, and following a few dates, they discussed spending their lives together. Not long down the road, they welcomed their first child, a beautiful little girl that they adore.

Though Von is undergoing a female to male transition, their love for each other is uncompromising.

"Von is who she is, Von is who he is, and nothing that I do is going to change that," Kileen said.

Though they are now legally recognized as man and woman, and eligible for marriage in North Carolina, they vow to remain champions for the rights of all couples to be married. In fact, after being together for nine years they plan to marry in April, 2012.

"I want everybody to be treated equally, and I don't think that's too much to ask," said Kileen. [Margaret Cheatham Williams]