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Video | Through tears, she blesses her dads' marriage

BY MERRIE LEININGER, McClatchy News Service

5966624_embedded_prod_affiliate_56 Chelsea Montgomery-Duban wanted to invite people to see inside her family, so she posted a video on YouTube. There the 16-year-old shares, through laughter and tears, the speech she gave at the wedding altar of the men she refers to as ``Dad'' and ``Daddy.''

``According to me, marriage is not just a man and a woman. It is two people who love each other and promise to be together in sickness and in health,'' Chelsea says in the video.

``Marriage is not even a beautiful white dress. But it is love blossoming between two individuals and the promise that what they have together can only get better.''

As she begins to break down in tears, she adds: ``It is a bond between two people that love each other so much that their hearts are bursting with joy and love and compassion for each other and no one can tell them that they shouldn't belong together or that they shouldn't love each other.''

The emotions are palpable, even through a monitor.

CHELSEA'S IDEA

The August 2008, Malibu, Calif., wedding was Chelsea's doing, her fathers agree. Kevin Montgomery, a stay-at-home dad, and Dennis Duban, a CPA, didn't feel they needed to do anything more to validate their 27-year relationship.

``It was all for her,'' said Montgomery. ``We always felt that it's something that's just between us and God, not between us and the state.

``When it started to become legal in places, we felt it was too much of a bother. But for Chelsea, she was always saying, we should go to Massachusetts, Vermont, we should go to Canada. It was important for her for our family to be whole in everybody's eyes. So, when it became legal in California, we said we'd better do it.''

Montgomery said he and Duban both felt changed by the ceremony and were glad they had given into their daughter's wishes.

``You feel different when you stand up and say in front of everyone, `I'm committed to this person.' I really do think it's important. I feel like everyone should have the same rights.''

Chelsea and her dads said the wedding -- and the passage of Proposition 8 just a month later that made gay marriage in California impossible -- instilled in them a desire to fight for legalization. At the time, though, the celebration of her fathers was the focus of the day.

``They're the most important people in my life, and the hardest part was to pare down what I wanted to say,'' she said. ``I knew it was going to be hard, but I had no idea it was going to be that hard. I tend to cry anyway, but I was so overwhelmed because I knew so many people were there who care about us, even people I knew don't necessarily agree with gay marriage.''

Montgomery and Duban said when they started talking about having a child together, they didn't know any other gay couple who had. Montgomery's sperm and Duban's sister's egg were used. Montgomery's cousin carried Chelsea.

When the men talk about their daughter, they use words like ``miracle,'' ``angel,'' ``well-balanced'' and ``mature.''

Duban said he had no idea what she was going to say at the wedding.

TAKING A STAND

``I knew it was important to her, but, then when she was giving the speech and breaking down, that's when I realized in my heart that it was so wrong that she should have to make such a stand for something that everyone else takes for granted,'' he said.

Both men said they were jittery on election night, when Prop 8 was passed, and tried to keep emotions from showing in front of their daughter. Duban said that when he tried to comfort her, he got another wake-up call.

``I said to Chelsea, `We'll always be OK. Our family will be OK.' She said, `I know, you can work out anything, but there are tens and hundreds of thousands of people who won't be and we need to be there for them.' ''

Chelsea said she and her family are prepared for negative feedback about the video.

``It just makes me want to hug them and help them try to understand, to see it from my point of view. Some super religious people, you can't change their minds, so I just say, `I'm so sorry you feel that way, because my family is an example.' ''

She says she hopes the video will change a few hearts and comfort others.

``I hope it changes people who are kind of in the middle and wouldn't know if they would vote for gay marriage. I have a different point of view that most people don't hear about.''

Caption: Dennis Duban, Chelsea Montgomery-Duban and Kevin Montgomery at the 2008 wedding in Malibu. THE MONTGOMERY-DUBANS / MCT

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Just like everybody in the audience, I was brought to tears also. May that family have many many more happy years together.
And with this wedding goes the religious nutjobs theory about how it should be only a man and a woman. That young lady seems to be more mature than some adults that I know.

My partner of 23 years and I were married in Iowa this weekend. Before the wedding my granddaughter said when told about the wedding, "That's weird. Will there be cake?"

After the wedding someone said to me, "I was so wrong. Your wedding has changed me in ways I don't yet understand. It is all about two men loving each other." Others have expressed similar sentiments.

We chose to marry because of our wish to publicly make a statement of commitment to each other.

When my new husband's brother said to me, "Brother-in-law, Welcome to the family," I realized it changes the dotted line in the family tree to a solid line.

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