The couple, who have two daughters, aged 14 and 10, married in Canada in 2005. The DOMA decision means their family will now be eligible for over 1,000 federal benefits previously denied same-sex couples.
“On an annual basis, we can stop doing these crazy tax returns,” said Dorf, a senior advisor for the Council for Global Equality and a leader in the LGBT rights international movement. “We pay extra money. We pretend we are married for the government and then we have to separate them. That will be simple and lovely to just be married in California and with the federal government. But mostly it’s about letting our kids know. They were really impacted by the voters telling us that our family wasn’t as equal as the families of all the other kids who have straight parents at school.”
“It’s a big deal for us personally, for our families, for our community and for the American people. We’re heading into an era where equality is equality – and every American citizen gets the same rights and benefits.”
The last time we caught up with Olson and Dorf was in March 2009 on the eve of oral arguments before the California Supreme Court. The justices were considering whether or not Prop. 8 was unconstitutional and should be overturned (They upheld it in that ruling). Their daughter Sylvie, who was five years old at the time, worried that Prop 8 would split up their family. “Sylvie said to me, just very casually, ‘So, if Prop 8 wins, who do I go with, Mommy Julie or Mommy Jennie?’” Olson told us in 2009.
When the rulings came down on Wednesday, Sylvie, now ten, was away at an overnight camp, and Olson said, ”I can’t wait to get on the phone to camp to talk to our little one to say, ‘Hey, Prop 8 is dead and marriage will come back to California for same-sex couples.’ Even though she is little, she totally gets that this is history and this is important and it matters to her little psyche that her family is equal.”
Olson added, “If nothing else this has been a personal and incredible opportunity to learn a lot about the way our government works and they’ve really followed the whole thing so meticulously.” Olson, a film maker and expert on LGBT film history, said she’s excited to celebrate with friends and colleagues during Pride Week and at the Frameline International LGBT Film Festival taking place this week.
Note: For more coverage of the Dorf-Olson family and the same-sex marriage issue, please watch This Week in Northern California on KQED-TV Friday night with re-broadcasts Saturday and Sunday.
Alan Sanchez, camera/editor/producer
Mike Elwell, additional camera
Joanne Elgart Jennings, executive producer
Footage courtesy of The PBS NewsHour