Finding “the one”

Just about every person who's in a serious relationship remembers that moment – the time when they realized that the other person was "the one." It could happen during some kind of romantic candlelit dinner or a sunset walk on the beach – but for most, it’s an everyday moment when the realization hits that you would be happy to spend the rest of your life with this person. That's what happened for Leslie Herod and Katina Banks, who have been together for seven years.

"I was over at her place, just sitting there watching TV, and she came over and we just sort of cuddled," says Katina. "It just felt perfect. Like home, you know? It was just right."

"For me, it was one time when we were hiking," says Leslie. "We had a little picnic when we got to the top, and that’s when I knew that we were going to be together and that it was the right thing."

Since then they've bought a house together in Denver. "Now we’re like the old married couple," Leslie says with a laugh. "So we garden, we just got a new carpet laid, and we have a dog named Theodore."

But despite their love for each other, they can't get married in their home state. "We want to be married to express our love and commitment, and we could do that if we went somewhere else where it's allowed – but it would have no meaning here where we live," says Katina.

"Our friends, our family, our lives are in Colorado, so we would want to have something here, and we would want to share that with them here, in our state that we love," Leslie adds.

Colorado has a constitutional amendment banning marriage for gay couples, forcing Leslie and Katina to jump through all sorts of legal hoops to secure their relationship. But they still have to worry. "Although we have all this paperwork that we’ve had to sign, if there were some kind of horrible situation, like if one of us were to die or something, someone could challenge those documents – and that’s just not right," Katina points out. "Not to mention the fact that a lot of couples can’t afford to get all these legal protections written up like we have. What are they left with?"

Katina knows about these kinds of things all too well, since she's a lawyer and has worked for the state. "We don’t let it stop us from living our lives and pursuing our dreams, but in the back of our minds there's the knowledge that we’re essentially second-class citizens when it comes to our relationship," she says. "I feel very fortunate that I have Leslie as support through those challenging times when something comes up, and it’s like 'Oh, here’s this issue again.'"

Leslie is just as grateful to have Katina in her life. "I appreciate that she is a genuine person – she really speaks from the heart," says Leslie. "She really cares about and helping out wherever she can, whether that’s around the house with Theodore or working with some of the organizations she's involved with. She really puts her whole heart into doing anything that she does." They hope that someday, one of those things can be getting married.

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