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Nancy Gill & Marcelle Letourneau

Nancy and Marcelle grew up in the same Brockton neighborhood, within two blocks of each other. They were best friends before they fell in love, and say that friendship is still at the core of their marriage.

Now living in Bridgewater, they have been together as a couple for over 32 years. Nancy has been a postal worker—the lady behind the counter—for 25 years. Marcelle does administrative work at the local Visiting Nurse Association office. They have two kids—their daughter, now in college, was born after what Nancy and Marcelle call their “16-year honeymoon,” and their son, who is 13. The whole family went on their second honeymoon after Nancy and Marcelle legally married in Massachusetts in 2004.

“After 24 years together, we were so happy to get married,” says Nancy. “But we were shocked when the government refused when I applied for benefits for Marcelle. Because the federal government discriminates against our marriage, I can’t add Marcelle to the family health plan I already pay for through my job. We end up paying for the same thing twice—my family plan and separate insurance for Marcelle through her job.”

Money is always a concern. Like most parents, Nancy and Marcelle have made their choices based on what is best for their family, not on how much money they could make. They lost money selling a house in a neighborhood they thought wasn’t good for their kids. They arrange their work schedules based on what their children need, even though it means Nancy won’t make as much money, and had to work the night shift for many years.

But the federal government still penalizes their family by denying them legal protections and safety nets that are automatically there for other families. In addition to the money they lose paying for extra health insurance, Marcelle won’t receive the federal health benefit given to surviving spouses if something should happen to Nancy. And Nancy can’t bequeath her pension benefits to Marcelle like other spouses can.

They also worry about how this discrimination will affect their children.

“We have always tried to teach our kids to live their lives honestly, with love and respect,” says Marcelle. “By disrespecting our family, the federal government tells our kids that our family isn’t equal. That’s not right.”

Read a profile of Nancy Gill and Marcelle Letourneau in The Brockton Enterprise