Making their own family

Kathy Glass and Carmah Lawler have a good sense of humor about their age – and they say that sense has also helped keep them together for over 30 years. Kathy is 79 and Carmah is 82.

"Kathy has a way of being able to laugh at almost anything – even though at our age there aren't that many things to laugh about," says Carmah as the two share a chuckle in their home near Denver.

But they don't let their age stop them from enjoying life together, which includes plenty of lunching with friends around town and visits to others who live elsewhere.

They both used to be social workers, which is how they met. "Those were the days when you hardly mentioned to anybody that you were gay, even though you suspected that somebody else might be," says Kathy.

They say it felt very good when they were finally able to be public about their relationship. "We felt like we lived a lie for years," says Carmah. "It means a great deal to both of us."

But despite their love and caring for each other, they can't get married in their home state of Colorado, which passed a constitutional amendment banning marriage for gay couples in 2006. The state is now considering a bill that would allow civil union, which they hope would be a stepping stone to marriage.

"Our chances of waiting for the repeal of 'one-man-one-woman' and then getting something done about marriage are fairly slim," says Kathy with another laugh. "We don't plan that far ahead of time any more."

In the meantime, they've had to go to a lawyer to draw up agreements about things like inheritance and medical care. Luckily, the local hospital was very good about accommodating Carmah when Kathy had to go through 12-hour heart surgery. "I was fortunate to have a lot of friends supporting me to get through that long wait," Carmah says.

Friends and each other are that much more important to couples like Kathy and Carmah, because they were never able to come out to their entire families.

"We turn to one another to discuss, to make decisions, to consider things like long-term care," says Carmah. "If you don't have the support of your family to start with, you support each other. We really have developed our own family."

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