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

am 34 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. clinic. 3. I was born in Marshall, Minnesota and was raised on a farm outside of I am a Physician Assistant with St. Luke's in an outpatient endocrinology

Minneota, Minnesota by my mother and father, who farmed pigs, corn and soybeans. I am the oldest of five children. I was raised in a devout Catholic family and attended Catholic school from 1st grade to 8th grade. I moved away from home when I was eighteen to attend Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. 4. I knew I was interested in a career in medicine from a young age. When I

was in high school and college I worked as a certified nursing assistant in various nursing homes. I enjoy working with people to help them find ways to improve their health and well-being. 5. I graduated from college in 2002 with a B.A. in Biology and Religion. In

2005, I was awarded a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies from Oregon Health Science University in Portland, Oregon. After graduating I began my career as a Physician Assistant in Boise in an outpatient endocrinology clinic. I have been in practice at the same clinic for approximately 8 years. 6. It has been important to Lori and me to be active in our community. I have

volunteered for a camp for children with diabetes since 2006. There are three summer camps for children of various ages and a ski camp in the winter. I typically volunteer for


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one or two of the summer camps and for the ski camp. I have been the assistant director for the camp for 3rd through 5th graders since 2012. Lori and I are also active in our church, the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. We have been members of the congregation since 2011. We volunteer in the nursery and last year we taught religious education to the 4th through 6th grade class. 7. When I started my current job eight years ago, which was my first job

after graduate school, I was anxious about whether I might lose my job if my boss and co-workers found out that I was a lesbian. Idaho does not have a statute protecting employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation. It turned out that my supervisors and co-workers have been supportive. I feel extremely lucky as I know that is not the case for others. 8. Growing up Catholic in a small town in the Midwest, I don’t recall hearing

or knowing about gay or lesbian people as a child. I came out in college, and to my siblings over the next two years. I did not tell my parents until several years later when I was 25 years old and in a relationship. I was worried about how they might react. I told my mom over the phone and asked her to tell my dad; I was too nervous to tell him directly. My parents have struggled some with reconciling their strong Catholic beliefs with the fact that their daughter, who they loves and respect, is a lesbian. They have been extremely loving and supportive even though this is challenging for them spiritually. They are always warm and loving towards Lori and our son. Over the last year and even months my family has become more sensitive to the challenges that Lori and I face being lesbian parents and not having our marriage recognized in Idaho.


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Lori and I met after the mother of a friend of mine introduced us in

November 2009. My friend’s mother used to work with Lori and thought Lori and I would be a good match. Lori and I began dating, and we have been together ever since. 10. I proposed to Lori on February 13, 2011. I made a crossword puzzle using

clues about our relationship, our families and interests. In the crossword puzzle there were several letters circled that Lori had to unscramble once the puzzle was done. It said, “Lori, will you marry me?” I was thrilled that she said “Yes.” 11. My parents have been married for 35 years. I have seen the ways in which

their marriage has encouraged them to work together as a team and how they have had support from one another as well as family and friends through challenging times. Family has always been one of the most important parts of my life. Lori is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with and have beside me every step of the way. We share common values, interests, and goals. Before we started a family we wanted to get married and share our love and commitment to each other publicly and ask for the support of our friends and family . 12. We talked about getting married in the fall of 2011 and decided we would

travel to the east coast, because several states there permitted same-sex couples to marry. Lori had an opportunity to go to New York for a professional training in October 2011. We would have preferred marrying in Idaho, our home state, so that our large families could attend. Because we could not legally marry in Idaho, we married on October 28, 2011 in New York City. Attached as Exhibit A is a copy of our marriage certificate. We had a small intimate ceremony, and we planned a larger ceremony and reception later in Idaho with family and friends.


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We had a ceremony and reception in Boise on July 21, 2012. All of our

immediate family members attended except one of Lori’s brothers who lives in China. Over 200 family members and friends from all over the country came to celebrate. We had our celebration at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church where we are members. The Reverend Elizabeth Greene officiated at a ceremony where we exchanged vows and asked our friends and family for their blessing and support. Our mothers read a children’s book during the ceremony, as Lori and I have a tradition of exchanging children’s books for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. After the ceremony we shared food and danced with our families and guests. Before and after the ceremony our families spent several days in Boise with us, getting to know each other. 14. We had known for a while that we wanted children, and we started taking

steps toward starting a family during the spring of 2012. We used sperm from an anonymous donor from a cryobank. We found out I was pregnant in September 2012. We decided to wait to learn our child’s gender until the birth. Our beautiful son was born into our family in 2013. When we filled out the worksheet for the birth certificate it was frustrating and hurtful that there was not a way to accurately represent our family. I was listed as the mother, but there was no way to list Lori on the birth certificate, despite the fact that she is our son’s other parent, unless she was listed as father, which she is not. We noted on the form that Lori should be reflected on the birth certificate as one of his parents. The birth certificate arrived in the mail with only my name on it; our request was not honored. If Idaho had recognized our marriage, then Lori would have been presumed to be our son’s parent at birth, without the need for an adoption.


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During our pregnancy we considered hyphenating our last names for our

baby’s 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 B is a true and correct copy of the court order granting my name change from Sharene Elizabeth Gossen to Sharene Elizabeth Watsen. Lori changed her name from Lori Watts to Lori Watsen. 16. We feel wonder and magic as new parents of our sweet baby boy. He is

growing and changing in significant ways right before our eyes, and we enjoy watching his personality unfold. We are hopeful that his life and our life as a family will be full of meaning, purpose, joy, and connection. 17. During the summer of 2013, Lori and I incurred the expense of hiring an

attorney to assist us with an adoption petition in state court in Ada County, so that Lori 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 Lori did not have legal standing to file a petition to adopt our child because Lori 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 court’s opinion used the phrase “cohabitating, committed partner.” Attached as Exhibit C is a copy of the court order dismissing our adoption petition. 18. 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 Lori filed her adoption petition. (I have been informed this is


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Idaho Code section 16-1501 and the provisions following it). Lori plans to seek again in state court to adopt our son through a second-parent adoption. If Idaho were to recognize my marriage to Lori, she would be able to and would file a petition to adopt as a stepparent, which would allow the judge to approve the adoption without the need for a costly home study that is required for other adoptions. Unfortunately, Lori is not able to file an adoption proceeding as a step-parent because Idaho refuses to recognize my marriage to Lori. 19. 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 the dignity of our family not to have Lori legally recognized as a parent to our son. Both Lori and I are very dedicated parents, who are committed to raising our son in a stable, loving home. 20. Because the court has denied Lori’s 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 Lori 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. Idaho’s refusal to recognize our marriage has prevented Lori 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


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Idaho recognized our marriage at the time of our son’s birth, then Lori would have automatically been recognized as our son’s parent. 21. Idaho’s refusal to recognize our marriage, which has prevented Lori from

being recognized as a legal parent to our son, also harms me. Lori 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. 22. Lori 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 aren’t 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 will need 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. 23. Lori and I also have not historically been able to obtain spousal coverage

on each other's health insurance or other benefit plans at our places of employment. My employer, St. Luke’s, recently announced a policy change, indicating its plan 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


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that we have as much protection as possible in place for one another and for our son. In many ways, Idaho’s refusal to recognize our marriage has required us to spend our family’s resources and time to create a small fraction of the protections that we would 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. 24. Despite 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 a rental property I own from my name to marital community property, with the right of survivorship. Attached as Exhibit D 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 the deed attached as Exhibit D for filing, my understanding is that under current Idaho law the form of ownership specified in the deed transfer is not enforceable because Lori and I are a same-sex couple. 25. 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 35 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/___________ Sharene Watsen


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