Pam and Helen Anderson-Holt seemed to be just another joyous couple anxious to fulfill a lifetime dream of getting married that July 1 in West Hollywood after the Supreme Court struck down Prop. 8 and Sec. 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. But there was a quiet urgency just beneath the surface of their excitement—last year, Pam Holt was diagnosed with inoperable stage IV metastatic colorectal cancer and was given only a year to live.
That day, Pam and Helen seemed to face one obstacle after another. Early in the morning, the recorder-registrar’s office in Lancaster had denied them a marriage license because Pam’s ID had expired when she was undergoing chemo, and the clerk wouldn’t accept her birth certificate or any other ID. The couple, who have been together for more than 18 years, drove the 45 miles from Palmdale to the Beverly Hills courthouse to try again—while the lesbian partner of Helen’s late sister and their two nephews drove to WeHo to stand in line. But Beverly Hills spurned them, too. By the time Pam and Helen joined their extended family at WeHo City Hall, they were dejected and Pam was exhausted.
But WeHo staffers saw their angst and intervened, telling their story to Los Angeles County Recorder-Registrar Dean Logan, who was present to deputize WeHo City Councilmembers and others to officiate at the weddings. Logan called the Beverly Hills courthouse on their behalf and after another trip there and back, Pam and Helen were married by gay WeHo City Councilmember John Duran, who choked back tears as he pronounced them spouses for life. They hugged tightly for a very long time.
I asked them if they were planning on a honeymoon. They didn’t know at the time. Pam did not complain, and any time anyone looked at her, she would flash a big smile. But she was clearly struggling. Later, Helen got back and said they’d created a fundraiser on Go Fund Me hoping folks would chip in to help them get to the Seattle Space Needle—Pam lived in the Seattle area from about 4th grade through 11th grade and wanted to go back one more time. They also hoped to spend a few days at Disneyland—Pam’s oncologist said she could work around the trips.
While we rejoice with the good news of the fall of Prop. 8 and DOMA and prepare for the marriage battles ahead, it is useful every now and then to reflect upon those voiceless, loving same-sex couples whom Edie Windsor and Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami and Kris Perry and Sandy Stier represented before the Supreme Court. Pam and Helen Anderson-Holt are one such couple who need help now to make their last loving days as fruitful as possible. Thank you.
Here’s Helen’s story on Go Fund Me: gofundme.com/3i59n8
"Created by Helen Andersen-Holt on July 6, 2013
PALMDALE, CA Dreams, Hopes & Wishes
Pam and I have been sharing our lives since Oct 25,1994, on Monday July 1,2013 we were married in West Hollywood Ca. Pam has stage IV metastatic colorectal cancer that is inoperable. Pam is the kind of person that just by being near her you feel good. It is my wish and desire to make the remaining time we have filled with as many happy moments as possible for my darling Pam. We have spoken with Pam's oncologist and she has given the ok for us to have a honeymoon and will schedule Pam's chemo around what ever we are able to do. Pam really want's to go to Seattle one more time and also would love to go and stay at Disneyland for a few days. Below I have posted links to part of our story.
Any monies not spent making Pam happy will be donated to USC NORRIS COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER-GI DEPT SPECIFICALLY DR AFSANEH M BRAZI."