In the past 30 years, Linda Phipps and Barbara Allen have been friends, partners, colleagues, and today, a legally married couple. They never thought the day would come.
“I never, ever, in my wildest dreams thought we could legally be together,” says Linda.
They met as colleagues in Orange County, California, where Barbara taught physical education for 7th, 8th and 9th graders, and Linda taught science to 7th and 8th graders. Orange County in the 1980s was very conservative, and had they stayed, says Linda, they would’ve lost their jobs if their relationship was made public. They lived in the closet as a couple, and five years after meeting, they headed north, moving to Coupeville on Whidbey Island.
“We wanted to be able to be ourselves,” says Linda. “You couldn’t admit you were a democrat [in Orange County], let alone a gay person.”
On Whidbey Island, they said they found heaven. A welcome respite, a warm atmosphere, with kind and compassionate people. Linda and Barbara says that the diversity was very accepting up here. Very involved in the community on Whidbey Island, they volunteered in every capacity they could to help pass R-74. They say they are appreciative of the Mayor, Council, and City Hall for organizing today’s events and ceremonies.
In their years together, they also adopted a daughter, Netra Phipps. In 2000, they looked at hundreds of children, and worked with a local organization, the World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP), to find the perfect match. When the adoption agency interviewed Netra, she said she just wanted nice parents. When Linda and Barbara saw the photo of Netra, they’d already wanted her to be their daughter, and Petra’s answer for the requirement of kindness she desired of her future parents made her the more suitable for them as a couple.
“We’re not beautiful, we’re not young, we’re not wealthy, but we’re nice,” says Linda.
As a part of the adoption process, Linda had to swear on record that she was not gay, in order to adopt Netra from India, a country Linda says was conservative and questioned her ability to adopt as a single woman. Linda recalls the woman who did the swearing in was crying, tears running down her face as she performed the ceremony when Linda had to renounce that she was gay to be able to adopt Netra.
“She was embarrassed,” says Linda. “I felt more bad for her than she did for me. There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for this kid, and she wouldn’t for us.”
Twelve years later, Netra is now 22-years-old and a recent homeowner on Whidbey Island.
“I knew they loved me so it made it easy,” says Netra. “Today I’m so excited, overjoyed, and thrilled that my parents are able to get legally married.”
Tonight, their family of three will be going to dinner after the ceremony.
When asked what the secret is for their 30 years of partnership, Barbara and Linda says:
- Marry the one that you connect with.
- Marry not only someone whom you love, but who you also like.
- Talk about everything. Keep the lines of communication open.
What’s next for them?
“We’re going to keep living our perfect life,” says Linda. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about how wonderful it is that we’re together.”