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Kris Perry & Sandra Stier

The Womens Conference

How They Empower Others

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier have been together for a decade and are the parents of four boys.

Both are in public service -- Kris leads an early childhood health and education agency and Sandy works for a county health department.  When not busy with work, they are busy with the usual parent activities like school meetings, soccer games and band practice.

But while Kris and Sandy are dedicated to providing a secure and loving home, their family goes without the legal recognition, benefits and protections of marriage that most of us take for granted. Kris and Sandy live in California, where Proposition 8 eliminated equal marriage rights.

Kris was raised in Bakersfield, where she lived until she was admitted to UC Santa Cruz. She later received her Master of Social Work at San Francisco State University. She is currently Executive Director of First 5 California, which provides education and health care services to kids ages 0 to 5.

Sandy was raised in rural Iowa, and received her Bachelor's of Business degree from the University of Iowa. She is an Information Systems Director for Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, which provides health care services to vulnerable populations. It was when both Kris and Sandy were working for Alameda County, and Sandy was teaching a computer class to fellow employees, that they first met.

Kris and Sandy tried to marry in 2004, when the City and County of San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses. But after they received their license, exchanged vows and came back from their honeymoon, a letter notifying them that their marriage had been voided  -- and that they could either receive a refund check for their license fee or donate it to charity -- was waiting in their mailbox.

Kris and Sandy could have gotten married in 2008, after the California Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution guaranteed the rights of all couples to be married, but the prospect of their marriage again being revoked kept them from doing so. Indeed, Prop. 8 passed within six months of the Court's ruling.

Sandy says she and Kris joined the American Foundation for Equal Rights' federal court challenge to Prop. 8 because it is aimed at providing the certainty they and countless others would need for one final -- and official -- wedding.

"It's harmful enough to not be treated equally under the law. But it's simply devastating to have equal rights one day and then have them taken away the next.  We've been through this twice now, after our 2004 marriage and after Prop. 8 was passed" Sandy says.

"We've never been activists," Kris says. "We simply want for each other and our children the same rights as other American families."