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.