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Deborah A. Ferguson, ISB No. 5333 The Law Office of Deborah A. Ferguson, PLLC 202 N. 9th Street, Suite 401 C Boise, Idaho 83702 Tel.: (208) 484-2253 Craig Harrison Durham, ISB No. 6428 Durham Law Office, PLLC 405 S. 8th Street, Ste. 372 Boise, ID 83702 Tel.: (208) 345-5183 Shannon P. Minter Christopher F. Stoll National Center for Lesbian Rights 870 Market Street, Suite 370 San Francisco, California 94102 Tel.: (415) 392-6257 Attorneys for Plaintiffs UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO SUSAN LATTA and TRACI EHLERS, LORI WATSEN and SHARENE WATSEN, SHELIA ROBERTSON and ANDREA ALTMAYER, AMBER BEIERLE and RACHAEL ROBERTSON, Plaintiffs, v. C.L. "BUTCH" OTTER, as Governor of the State of Idaho, in his official capacity, and CHRISTOPHER RICH, as Recorder of Ada County, Idaho, in his official capacity, Defendants.

Case No. 1:13-cv-00482-CWD


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I, Lori Watsen, hereby declare and state as follows: 1. I am one of the Plaintiffs in this action, along with my wife, Sharene

Watsen. I am 39 years old and live in Boise, Idaho. I have personal knowledge of the matters stated in the declaration and could and would competently testify to these facts. 2. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Idaho and currently

employed by Boise State University, where I am an Associate Field Director for the Boise State University School of Social Work. 3. My family moved to Provo, Utah soon after I was born. I was raised with

my five brothers and sisters in a large family who were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). I went to Provo High School and graduated in 1992. 4. After high school I left home to participate in a Study Abroad program

sponsored by Brigham Young University and based in London, England. After returning from London I continued with classes at Brigham Young University on the Provo campus. In 1993, my older brother, who was living in Japan at the time, was excommunicated from the LDS church for being gay. This was a devastating experience for our family. I decided to leave Utah despite my academic scholarship to Brigham Young University and transferred to Reed College in Portland, Oregon. 5. In part because of my brothers negative experience after coming out as

gay, I did not allow myself to consider the possibility of being a lesbian in any significant way until I was in college, when I fell in love for the first time in my life with a woman. My parents encouraged and supported me through my process of acknowledging my identity as a lesbian both to myself and to others. They were able to provide this type of loving support because they had already supported my older brother through his coming-

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out process several years earlier. When my older brother came out, my parents sought education and professional support for him. They learned quickly that sexual orientation is not a choice and have always shown love and support to my brother and to me. 6. My family is supportive of my relationship with Sharene and our decisions

to marry and to have a family. Even though my family has always been supportive of my relationship with Sharene, my marriage to Sharene has helped my parents in explaining our relationship to others. 7. My parents have been working to help secure acceptance and legal

protections for LGBT people in Utah for over 20 years, including working within their church to encourage love and support for LGBT people and their families. Through the years, I have seen my parents support many LGBT individuals in their community, including those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, as well as provide support and education to parents of LGBT children in their church. They have been actively involved in a support group for parents and families in the church with gay children called Family Fellowship for over 20 years. My dad has served on the national board of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians & Gays). 8. I graduated from Reed College with a B.A. in Psychology in 1996. After

college I participated in the Teach for America program, where I taught special education in under-resourced public schools in Louisiana and then California. My experience as a teacher in low-income communities spurred my interest in social work. After teaching for three years, I moved to Idaho and enrolled in the Masters of Social Work program at Boise State University in August of 2000 and graduated in May of 2002.

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Like Sharene, I have been an active volunteer in the community. I have

served as Bereavement Coordinator for a summer camp for grieving kids and teens called Camp Erin. I volunteered with Camp Erin from the summer of 2006 to the summer of 2010. When I was a social worker at Saint Alphonsus Cancer Care Center, I started a program called CLIMB (Childrens Lives Include Moments of Bravery) in 2010. CLIMB is a support program for children who have a loved one with cancer. 10. Sharene and I are also members of the Boise Unitarian Universalist

Fellowship faith community and have served as teachers in the childrens religious exploration program and in the nursery. 11. When I was teaching after college, there were times when I felt my sexual

orientation could put my job at risk. I was not "out" as a lesbian when I taught, and I understood my employment might be at risk if I did come out. Likewise, my first position as a social worker was at a Catholic hospital, and I experienced fear about coming out and remained fairly closeted for the first few years of my career. It can be difficult for people to understand the day-to-day frustrations of not being able to be your whole self at work. Things that others take for granted, such as putting pictures of family members on your desk, were decisions I weighed carefully. I usually decided against putting up pictures or making statements or references to my life or family that might make it obvious that I was a lesbian. Even the decision to wear an engagement or wedding ring has been challenging. Rings worn on the left ring finger invite questions. For the last several years, I have resolved that I will not hide my sexuality or relationship status. Still, there are times that I answer questions vaguely or deflect questions out of fear of making the questioner uncomfortable or causing problems. Both Sharene and I

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are aware that either one of us could be fired for being lesbians. Idaho does not have a statute protecting employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation. This adds stress to us financially and affects decisions about coming out to employers, clients and patients, and others we encounter at work. 12. Among my social work colleagues, I usually feel it is safe for me to be

open about my relationship and our family. But I continue to be careful about disclosing those parts of my life to clients and students, and I feel that I frequently must calculate and weigh the pros and cons and the risks and benefits of doing so in different situations. I would feel more comfortable being out at work if the State of Idaho recognized and respected my lawful marriage to my spouse, Sharene. 13. I met Sharene in 2009. In November of that year, a colleague mentioned

to me that she knew a woman (Sharene) whom she thought I would enjoy getting to know. I contacted Sharene by e-mail, and we set up a date to meet. This was the only time in my life I have ever been on a blind date. Sharene and I hit it off right away. We had similar interests, backgrounds, and values, and we enjoyed each other's company. Sharene and I fell in love and knew within a few months that our relationship would last, and that we wanted to make a lasting commitment to one another. We discussed our future together and decided that we wanted to get married and then start a family. We are both conservative in that regard and felt marriage was a prerequisite to having a family. 14. Sharene proposed to me in a homemade crossword puzzle in February of

2011. We had enjoyed working on crossword puzzles with each other, and she created clues that were questions about our relationship up to that point in time. Certain letters in

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the answers were circled (jumble style) and formed the question, "Lori will you marry me?" I was thrilled to reply, Yes!. 15. We discussed getting married on the East coast in the fall of 2011. In late

summer, I was accepted to attend a professional training in New York City. New York had recently changed its law to permit same-sex couples to marry, so we decided to combine a trip for my training and to get married. We would have loved to marry in Idaho, but it was not an option because Idaho does not permit same-sex couples to marry. We knew it would be expensive and logistically difficult for our large families to travel to New York for our wedding. Given this, we decided to have a small, intimate legal ceremony in New York and planned a bigger celebration in Idaho the following summer to include our families. We married in New York in October 2011. 16. We had a large wonderful celebration in Idaho in July 2012. Family

members came from all over the country to show their support. We had over 200 people in attendance, including family, colleagues, and friends. Elizabeth Greene, then minister of the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, helped us plan a ceremony that celebrated our union and asked for support and love for us from the people in attendance. It meant a lot to us and to our families. 17. Sharene and I both come from families that value marriage and

commitment tremendously. My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Their commitment and love for each other and to our family is something I truly admire and have always wanted to emulate in my own life. 18. Sharene makes me happy in a way I have never felt before. I feel accepted,

respected, trusted, and truly loved. We are very compatible and are good for each other.

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Sharene helps me live in a way that is in line with my values, but also helps me to enjoy life, to not take myself too seriously, and to trust that I am a good person. I respect and love Sharene, and I always want her to be my spouse. 19. There are a few things about marriage that I feel are extremely important

and valuable. First, each person makes a commitment and promise to do the work that relationships require to stay healthy and happy. Second, I feel it is valuable and important for couples to demonstrate to family members and friends that they love each other deeply and to ask them to support their partnership. Third, to me, marrying is a way of saying This is it. This is the real deal. You are the one I want. 20. I know that all relationships experience moments of challenge and

difficulty. Commitment, I believe, is a critical ingredient to help couples weather those difficult times. I also believe that couples need support and validation during good times and bad. By deciding to make a public and legal commitment to Sharene by getting married, I was also asking for explicit and public support from my family and from our friends. Being married has strengthened and deepened our relationship. I am pained by the fact that my home state of Idaho does not recognize my legal marriage to Sharene. 21. Making a decision to raise children together is not one to take lightly, and

I wanted to know for myself and to demonstrate to others that our relationship was solid and ready for that challenge by getting married first. 22. We decided to start a family in the spring of 2012 after our marriage. Our

son was conceived by artificial insemination in September of 2012 and born in May 2013.

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For several months before our son was born, Sharene and I went on walks

and spent a lot of time discussing possible names for our child. We decided not to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl until birth, so we picked girl names and boy names we both liked. We also discussed options for surnames. 24. We considered hyphenating our last names for our babys last name, but

ultimately decided to merge our names to create a new family name that all three of us could share. Attached as Exhibit A is a copy of the court order granting my name change from Lori Watts to Lori Watsen. Sharene changed her name Sharene Elizabeth Gossen to Sharene Elizabeth Watsen. 25. Before our son was born, I began inquiring about options for time off from

work with my employers human resources department so that I could care for him during the first few weeks of his infancy, but there was lack of clarity in policy and law about my options. I was initially told that our babys birth did not count as a qualifying event for purposes of taking leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, given that he is not my biological child, although I intended to adopt him. Ultimately I was told I would be allowed to take off some protected time as I was standing in loco parentis. 26. I made a significant employment change in anticipation of our babys

arrival. Up to that point, I focused my career on Oncology social work and practiced at two local hospitals. After our babys birth, Sharene and I both have cut back our work schedules so that we can each have quality time with our son and minimize daycare needs. My current role at Boise State University is Associate Director of Field Education for the School of Social Work. I assist with management of our student field practicum experiences, and I teach a Senior Seminar in the program.

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I was in the operating room for our sons birth and was treated respectfully

by a majority of hospital staff. Filling out the birth certificate form at the hospital was frustrating. There was no way to accurately represent our family, as the form allowed only one line for "mother" and a second line for "father." We wrote in the margins a special request that I be listed as my sons second parent on this document. The birth certificate arrived in the mail with only Sharene's name on it; our request was not honored. If Idaho had recognized our marriage, then I would have been presumed to be our sons parent at birth, without the need for an adoption. 28. During the summer of 2013, Sharene and I incurred the expense of hiring

an attorney to assist us with an adoption petition in state court in Ada County, so that I could legally adopt our son through a second-parent adoption. The adoption petition was supported by both of our extended families, and included extensive documentation. On August 29, 2013, a magistrate judge dismissed the petition summarily, without a hearing, holding that under Idaho law I did not have legal standing to file a petition to adopt our child because Sharene and I are not considered married under Idaho law. The court did not recognize our marriage, despite the proof we provided that we were lawfully married in New York; the courts opinion characterized my wife as my cohabitating, committed partner. 29. I am informed that just days ago, on February 10, 2014, the Idaho

Supreme Court ruled in an adoption case brought by two long-time domestic partners of the same sex that marriage is not a requirement for an adoption proceeding under the very Idaho statutes under which I filed my adoption petition (Idaho Code section 16-1501 and the provisions following it). I plan to seek again in state court to adopt our son through a

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second-parent adoption. If Idaho were to recognize my marriage to Sharene, I would be able to and would file a petition to adopt as a step-parent, which would allow the judge to approve the adoption without the need for a costly home study that is required for other adoptions. Unfortunately, I am not able to file an adoption petition as a step-parent because Idaho refuses to recognize my marriage to Sharene. 30. The denial of adoption by the Idaho court in August 2013 has been very

difficult for us. We are an intentional, carefully planned, intact, and loving family. It is demeaning and degrading to us and to the dignity of our family not to be legally recognized as a parent to our son. Both Sharene and I are very dedicated parents, who are committing to raising our son in a stable, loving home. 31. Because the court has denied my petition to adopt our son, we have the

added expense and inconvenience of having to create a new Medical Power of Attorney every six months, so that I can also consent to his medical treatment and take him to doctor appointments. But this in no way creates the full legal parent-child relationship that should be recognized and protected. Idahos refusal to recognize our marriage has thus far prevented me from being recognized as a legal parent, which harms our son in many direct and indirect ways, including depriving him of the irreplaceable legal, social and emotional security of having two legal parents. I do not want our son to grow up and think that there is something wrong with his family or have difficulty understanding the integrity or closeness of his family because Idaho does not recognize our marriage. If Idaho recognized our marriage at the time of our sons birth, then I would have automatically been recognized as our sons parent.

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Idahos refusal to recognize our marriage to regard me as a legal parent to

our son also harms me. I cannot provide parental consent for our son in legal, educational or medical settings. This creates a burden upon our family as we do not have the benefit of the two of us sharing those numerous and important parental responsibilities. 33. Sharene and I intend to file a joint federal tax return this year because

federal law requires us to file our taxes as a married couple. But because Idaho does not respect our marriage, we must also file income tax returns separately in Idaho, under the fiction that we arent married, when, in fact, we are. While in the past we have prepared our tax returns without the assistance of a tax preparation professional, due to the added complexities the State of Idaho has imposed on married, same-sex couples, we must now obtain professional tax assistance. In addition to the extra complexity and expense, it is demeaning and morally offensive to sign an official government legal document that labels me as single when I know that is a false statement. 34. Sharene and I also have not able to obtain spousal coverage on each

other's health insurance or other benefit plans at our places of employment. St. Lukes Sharenes employerrecently announced a policy change, indicating it plans to provide same-sex married couples health insurance in the near future. We also have advance directives in place to cover end of life decision-making for one another, although I understand there is no guarantee that our wishes will be honored since Idaho does not recognize our marriage. We are in the process of having new wills drafted, to ensure that we have as much protection as possible in place for one another and for our son. In many ways, Idahos refusal to recognize our marriage has required us to spend our familys resources and time to create a small fraction of the protections that we would


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automatically have if our marriage and family were recognized in Idaho. I appreciate that no amount of estate planning can replicate the security that is unique to marriage, an institution that our society implicitly understands and respects. 35. Since our marriage in 2011, the property we have acquired since that time

is separate property. It is not considered community property as a result of our marriage, as it would be if Idaho recognized our marriage. In January 2014, I filed a quitclaim deed with the Ada County Recorder transferring the title to our home from my separate property to marital community property with the right of survivorship. Attached as Exhibit B is a copy of the deed. Community property, with the right of survivorship is a form of property ownership that I understand is limited to legally married couples. It is my understanding that if one spouse dies, property held as community property with the right of survivorship passes directly to the surviving spouse. Although the Ada County Recorder accepted our deed for filing, my understanding is that under current Idaho law the form of ownership specified in the deed transfer is not enforceable because Sharene and I are a same-sex couple. 36. As our son grows older and is raised in Idaho, I want him to have the

security of knowing our marriage is recognized in Idaho, as it is by the federal government. I want my son to know that he is a much loved child of our legal marriage. I want him to have the same pride in us, as his parents, that I feel for my parents, who have been married for 50 years.


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I sign this Declaration under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States. DATED the 12th day of February, 2014.

_______/s/___________ Lori Watsen


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